My daughter has been in traditional treatment seven times. Various forms of intensive outpatient and/or residential treatment. All have used the traditional 12 step treatment model. I happen to love the 12 steps, but like so many things that have a long history, *people* get into the mix and pollute what the initial intent was with their best ideas and agendas.
She recently placed herself into a methadone treatment program. I won't even venture to guess what the future may hold this time. For today, she is alive and working on not using. For today, that is enough for me.
Methadone treatment is considered a harm reduction approach to treating chronic addicts and relapsers. The things that I hear that transpire there makes sense to me. It feels right in my gut. Its real, authentic. Their clientele are there because they are addicts that nothing else has worked for. They have not been able to break their cycle of addiction and chronic use....*despite their very best efforts.* This is often their last chance at sobriety.
There is no "punishment" for relapsing. They are not shamed or kicked out or questioned on how much they really want to be clean. It is *accepted* that they are stuck in some very real ways. If they could get clean any other way, they would have done it already. They walked through the door on that first day and asked for help and that was enough. There are no expectations of perfection.....just keep coming back each day. Keep making yourself available. Of course as they begin to test clean on a consistent basis, they are granted some "sober age appropriate" freedoms. A one day take home dose. A weekend take home dose. Eventually, it is possible for them to only need to check in once a month. I hear that is years down the road though.
Traditional treatment compared to harm reduction models make me think of church. How I used to dress all of us so perfectly, hair was done, we all arrived looking so together and "Christian." We jumped through the hoops, we followed the rules, but it never seemed to be enough. What no one knew was that I yelled at everyone to get them ready, that I was so overwhelmed trying to create that illusion of perfection because it didn't feel safe to be real there. It didn't feel safe to say how hard getting 3 little kids (little one came several years later) ready for church before 9 am was. I wasn't free to be honest about who I really was....just a young mom
trying to figure out the best way to raise several little kids who I
would have given my life for without a thought. So I ran faster, I jumped higher, until I couldn't do it anymore.
Traditional treatment seems to foster that "Ok, you're here now. We're going to figure this out, polish you up, you're going to shape up, get up early, go to meetings, do your chores, you're going to work the steps, and at the end of 30 days you will be on your way to a life of a sobriety (or holiness...whichever shoe fits.)" For some people that works... a few, maybe. But for the vast majority of hard core addicts, its a respite for their parents. They are tucked away safe and sound and the parents can sleep at night. But none of the real issues are really acknowledged or touched there. And definitely not at any deep or substantial level. Our kids jump through the hoops and then they get to go home or to a T-house, go to some meetings, but there is nothing to sustain them for LONG TERM sobriety.
A harm reduction model that says, "You are here for a reason. You are who you are, and you are what you are...lets start right here. You are a dangerously addicted human being who can't get free on his/her own. You showed up today and you followed through on getting your dose. Tomorrow come back and you can do it again." Day by day they begin to build something starting right where that addicted person is at that moment. Its a beautiful thing and it reminds me of how God accepts us right where we are at. He doesn't expect us to clean up our mess and present ourselves as together and ready to serve Him. Not at all.....He wants us to come broken, dirty, stinky, in disrepair and He will begin to work with us right there and as we keep coming back and as we keep opening ourselves up to the process (just as these young addicts who continue to walk through those clinic doors each day) we begin to heal. We begin to change and we see that it was a gift all along. It wasn't about how well we performed or what we thought we deserved....it was about how broken we had become. How desperate to do it a different way.
That changes you. Unmerited favor. Grace when you least deserve it. (For the record: grace is acceptance of what is....not necessarily condoning, but just acknowledging and accepting things as they are.) Lets be the conduit of God's grace to not only the broken among us, but to ourselves. I think we have to have experienced it before we can share it.