I don’t like to take on the label of “addict” but addiction is part of my history. In my personal and professional experience with addiction in mental health, since I have been in both sides, I actually feel that the professionals being heavily trained about addiction hinders their ability to help to some degree. We realized that our providers were clueless about addictions and went to action taking all of the educations and information possible and making sure it was available for all the clinicians and therapists to get their hands on. It was meant to be helpful. It had good intentions.
What it does however, is prevent providers from seeing people who are struggling with addiction as people and puts them into a small box. “Hey provider, if someone fits this image then they go over there to the addicts spot”. Then they pawned off to “addiction only” treatment centers and then they stuck in a place that doesn’t look at any other aspect of their health and healing needs except for the drug use. Yes, addiction recovery taps into other areas if they are good or refers them out but I feel like stating that addiction is a “primary condition” always (which I heard repeatedly throughout the years) was harmful. Yes, we must help people get off drugs if we can do anything else to help them. So I get it. I’m not knocking it or saying we shouldn’t have addiction only facilities. I just want addiction treatment traps where people cycle in and out and never really get help or feel seen or heard or “fully” helped.
For me addiction was never a primary condition. It was a big symptom. A manifestation of of all my other issues. Mainly, and at the core of it all, a low sense of self worth. I even wrote a book on low self worth because I saw that so many people ended up in addiction when they could have avoided it I’d they only loved themselves more earlier. And a lot of people could get out of addiction by loving themselves better.
I think it is Important to have people well trained in addiction. I think maybe the training needs to be better than what I’ve seen. More person first, person centered education so we don’t lose that compassion. More empowerment for the people in treatment. I hate hearing people get told they are powerless over drugs and alcohol. No we are not. Instead I teach personal power in my methodology. I teach that we are spiritual beings inhabiting our body and that we are the master of this vessel. We are the owners of the human suit and therefore I get to make choices for what happens to it. We are the powerful bosses of our life and we can choose to do better things for ourselves, our bodies, our minds, our lives. ALL people. Not just those who do or don’t struggle with addiction.
Narcan training is crucial. I can’t save a dead persons life. So, Yes omg train everybody on Narcan and keep people alive So we can heal them. I’m all for that. Yes! do whatever we have to do to create safe spaces where those with addiction issues can flock to and know they can sleep and eat and do all the life giving things they need to feel okay for long enough to think about living a different way. However, stop creating environments that make them small, that tell them they are weak, that tell them they will be sick forever, that tell them they must have certain characteristics just because they take drugs, or especially that tell them they have to claim a label of sickness forever just to stay healthy. Stop enforcing that people who struggle with addiction should refer to themselves as “addict” it’s not helpful and only reinforces negative behavior we are trying to change. This is hurtful not helpful.
I think my biggest thing is, bringing the deepest emotional and spiritual aspects to the forefront. Showing people the core of their issues weather it be self worth like mine was or something else. We have to show people their potential and the truth of their nature as a human and spiritual being. We have to allow them the space and to become everything that they are meant to be and not keep them stuck in a low vibration simply because we don’t understand how they will get out of it. Some things, as providers, are not meant for us to understand or fully see. We just have to know a and have faith that it is possible for our clients.
-Rachel D. Greenwell
Author of How to wear a crown: a practical guide to knowing your worth
Wooden signpost with two opposite arrows over clear blue sky, Addiction and Life signs, Choice conceptual image