An Addict Vents His Gripes With (most) Treatment Centers

This post might stir the pot a bit, and I expect it so I’m just going to share my raw thoughts and let the rest take shape in the comments and on Twitter and Facebook.

Something is wrong with the treatment center model as it relates to addiction. Now, to be fair, I am no veteran. Personally I’ve only been in one residential treatment facility, unless you want to count County Jail, then two would be more accurate.

But I do have a fairly diverse and robust network in the fellowship and pretty much everyone has been to more than one ‘rehab’.

Where I am from, people talk about treatment centers like college.

Almost all of the people I know who have been through ‘treatment’ have relapsed, myself included.

Here are a few of my major beefs;

Life Stops When You’re in Treatment

Counselors will swear up and down that taking some time out for you is worth saving the rest of your life. This makes zero sense because now all you do while in treatment is obsess over your life on the outside and how it’s falling apart. Ultimately this distraction builds tension that boils over once you’re released and all the stuff you’ve ignored comes to a head.

Bad Habits are Learned and Even Reinforced

Put 10-60 like minded people in a building for an extended period of time and see what happens. Let alone addicts who make a living out of manipulating one another. People clique-up and barriers to learning form as distraction and conflict amongst ‘clients’ emerge. Especially for new guys who may indeed be experiencing their first rodeo. The war stories, legal loopholes shared and connections¬† formed amongst addicts in treatment counterbalance the counseling with a constant stream of cognitive dissonance.

For Counselors, it’s Still a Job

Most, let me reiterate most counselors really do care about the clients they serve. But let’s face it, for them it is still a job and they are still human. They still get to go home, and they also often bring home to work. There’s still interoffice politics within a treatment center and to an overly observant addict, none of this goes unnoticed.¬† When you spend weeks, sometimes months being counseled by someone you naturally start to spot weaknesses and exploit them. This makes it difficult for an addict to remain open minded to new ideas.

The 12-step Disconnect

Most treatment centers encourage involvement in a 12-step program. Nothing wrong there. But most 12-step loyalists will contend that treatment centers focus too much on emotional triggers and behavioral patterns rather than the solution in the Big Book. So a disconnect begins to form between what a Sponsor advises and what a Counselor suggests. For an addict, this can become confusing as hell to unravel, and exhausting.

The point I am trying to make here is that in many ways, there is just as much work to sift through in a treatment center as there would be if one simply found a Sponsor and started working the steps.

Speaking solely for myself, the more I complicate things, the less progress I make.

Sometimes I wish I would have found AA before treatment, before I put my life on pause for 6 months and then transitioned into ‘sober living’.

Sometimes, no most times I’m wrong-so maybe everything is fine with the model.

I just know that the closer I get to the inner workings of the entire treatment model the more I realize it is a business.

12-step programs and the fellowship are altruistic movements that are self-supporting.

Food for thought.


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