Substance Abuse Treatment Philosophy
A fish doesn’t know it’s in water because it’s always been immersed in it. It doesn’t know where it stops and the water starts. We’re not so different.
We are chronically lost in identification with the content of our thoughts, which are often negative and irrational. We are fraught with unconscious, habitual patterns of mismanaging our thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, emotions, styles of speech, behaviors and how we relate to others.
The core of recovery from anything is to change the way we manage these dimensions of our humanity.
Mindfulness based therapy, like taking the fish out of the water, is a powerful way of bringing compassionate awareness to the gamut of our unconscious patterns. The practical applications of mindfulness practice are many. With our newfound awareness we begin to make more conscious choices about how to live our lives moment by moment, breath by breath.
Abstinence from our addictive behavior is only a prerequisite for recovery. It is necessary but not sufficient. True recovery is a paradigm shift; a change in the entire pattern of our lifestyle. It involves long term, consistent sober thinking, feeling, behaving and relating.
As any sincere practitioner of healing and growth will tell you, this practice isn’t easy, but it is well worth the effort.
So what if it’s difficult! We all know the good feeling of accomplishment when we rise to the challenge of difficulty. It builds character, confidence and health self-esteem.
We practice formal sitting meditation weekly in the intensive outpatient program. The remainder of the treatment modality centers around the increasing awareness we cultivate through this practice. This leads to making more conscious choices of how we manage our lives right in the heat of the ordinary moments of our daily routine.
With practice we are better able to consciously choose to come out of our stress inducing reactive mode of being in the world and learn a new stress reducing alternative way of being in the world.
In her evolutionary book “Minding the Body, Mending the Mind,” Joan Borysenko says this:
“Ultimately minding the body and mending the mind has more to do with wholeness or healing than with curing. To be whole means to be a flexible adventurer, ready to meet life’s challenges with engagement and curiosity. It means feeling a sense of connection to the whole of life – to other people, to new ideas, to the world around us. It means thinking less about “I, me, and mine” and more about how we are all interconnected in the great web of life…It means recognizing that happiness arises within us independent of any external cause and removing the obstructions to that inner peace and happiness that are our birthright as human beings.”
My mindfulness-based intensive outpatient program is an integrative model of treatment.
This means all models of healing and growth are considered as each individual participant custom designs their own recovery plan with the help and support of myself, the workbook I’ve written and the group.
The workbook, with its focus on the practical applications of what’s covered in the group therapy component of the program, helps you bring the principles of recovery to life – your life! It is comprised of short chapters on relevant topics i.e. emotion regulation skills, cognitive restructuring techniques, trigger and cravings management skills. There are many worksheets to help structure your recovery process. The workbook also contains poetry, prose and healing stories to show how people have been working on similar issues for centuries before us.
Apart from abstinence, there is no “cure” for the addicted brain. We simply arrest the addiction by starving it to death. We enter the realm of quality recovery through the portal of our personal healing process and developing our unique wholeness as human beings.
By transforming our relationship to ourselves and the world around us, nothing has changed, yet everything is different, because we’re different. We’ve changed the lens through which we view and experience ourselves and the world around us.
Recovery is certainly not a quick fix. In fact it’s not a “fix” at all. We don’t require “fixing” because we’re not broken. We’ve simply practiced maladaptive coping strategies for so long that we have become lost in them.
In recovery we do the life-long work of rediscovering who we really are as we heal from our past experiences and mistakes and make more conscious choices about how to be in the world in a new and contented way.