To an addict the word “rehab” conjures up the same thoughts that the word “prison” conjures up to the free. The loss of control, choices and microscopic monitoring is not something anyone would want to sign up for, addict or not. Thankfully there is always the voice of God/Higher Power/Reason that helps the clients surrender their lives to the care of the rehab staff in the hopes of getting something better in the recovery process. But, then there are those that don’t surrender, those with reservations.
Clients with reservations know they need rehab, they know their disease is killing them, they know that they are putting their family through pain and anguish, they know the havoc their addiction is doing to their body, yet they reserve their right to surrender their disease because their scared- and rightfully so. What some people don’t understand about addictions is, they are not like the chicken pox. It’s not something you just catch, see the doctor, take some milk baths for and then resume your life. An addiction is a way of life and for addicts, it’s the only way of life they have ever known. The idea of giving that life up is terrifying. Though they may be living in pain, the pain is comforting because it is familiar.
I often hear friends with babies talk about their child’s “lovey” a soft cloth with a stuffed animal head attached that is given to babies to comfort them while they fall asleep. Many mothers have told me that their child’s love is disgusting, torn and beaten down, they try to replace it with a replica lovey, but the child won’t take it, they want their smelly old lovey because it is FAMILIAR.
The only way you convince an addict (or a child) to give up their addiction (or their toy) is to give them images of something better. It can be a frustrating, heart-wrenching process to watch someone you love know better and yet walk the wrong way. All you can do is let them keep walking on their own and, hopefully, they will turn around and find themselves in the place of surrender, a place where they can see the possibility of a different life and help remove their reservations.
Addictions are a battle with oneself; it is up to the addict to decide which will win. Will it be the True Self or the Addictive Self? The fear is great, the recovery is painful, but the reward is freedom.
*A special thanks to Anita Barry for bringing up the topic of Addictive Reservations. Your years of work in residential treatment and compassion for those suffering from addictions is inspiring. You are a beautiful specimen of human being!