This happened to me last week when, after nearly two years of sobriety, I finally found myself an Alcoholics Anonymous home group…
Upon further reflection, I was forced to acknowledge that I was sounding like an angry person claiming to no longer be angry — rather like an obviously wasted individual claiming to be sober. Within hours of publishing the piece I was already doubting its veracity.
But then the real apocalypse descended on me — one which I describe in greater detail in an August follow-up to the aforementioned article, entitled When Your Addiction Recovery Stories Backfire. Within a week or so of publishing the original piece, I descended into a debilitating anxiety attack that brought back just about everything I thought I had overcome. Well, not everything — I didn’t drink, but I came dangerously close a couple of times. But otherwise, the angry hyena was back in the living room and everything once again felt like utter chaos. Less than a month after I arrogantly declared myself “recovered” it was painfully obvious that I was anything but.
Currently, 185 prisoners are receiving psychological treatment from psychologists or social workers to help them overcome their drug addiction.
Sunset clauses on medical interventions for addiction are imperative if we are going to see addicted persons exit drug use. M.A.T (Medication Assisted Treatment) can be a useful initial circuit breaker, but without a clear process to exit drug use, then dependency simply shifts from illicit to prescription drugs – and in the case of opiate/opioid use, an individual can be subject to what many drug users call ‘liquid handcuffs’ – trapped by persistent toxic opioid use. This is an incredibly detrimental mechanism for both short and long-term health outcomes. If an MAT is employed, then it must have a sunset clause, for the patient’s future well-being. (D.I)
The names sound similar, but these are two different approaches to recovery.
Not too long ago, getting treatment for drug and alcohol addiction mostly meant walking into a 12-step meeting and relying on will-power, camaraderie, and a higher power to make a change. Today, there are more treatment options available than ever before. That’s great — it allows individuals to find the path to recovery that is right for them. However, it also means that there’s pressure to understand the treatment options and choose between them.
One common source of confusion is between medically-assisted detox, and medication-assisted treatment. Both of these treatment approaches can be helpful for people with opioid addiction or dependence. Although the names sound similar, the approaches are actually quite different. Medically-assisted detox helps people get off opioids entirely, whereas medication-assisted treatment helps people manage their substance use disorder by taking prescription opioids in a responsible and controlled way.
How does ASAT support recovery?
People get to a point where they think, okay so I stopped the coping behavior, now what? If just stopping substance use or stopping something that was causing negative effects in my life was adequate, I wouldn’t be thinking about what my New Year’s resolutions were going to be this year. So once you’ve gone through withdrawal management, you’re stabilized, you’re no longer using a substance in a negative way, what does your recovery look like? And that’s where abstinence supported environments come in. You have this period of life where you can practice recovery-based skills and competencies and get the basic life skills of growing up.
Self-Medicating - Simon Pegg’s experience with self-medication is likely familiar to many other recovering addicts. It absolutely reflects my own life story. Like Pegg, I was diagnosed with depression as a teenager, and started “treating” it with alcohol from an early age. Alcohol made me feel better in the moment, while doing nothing whatsoever to address the underlying issue. In fact, by the time I eventually got sober at age 29, my depression had grown worse than ever before. This falls exactly in line with a warning from the CDC that excessive alcohol use may increase anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.
Simon Pegg drew on his experiences with addiction when co-writing The World’s End with Edgar Wright. The movie is a science-fiction comedy about a group of friends trying to complete a pub crawl which ends at a bar called “The World’s End.”Fittingly, as they progress through the bars, aliens invade, putting the characters in the wake of a potential literal “world’s end.” It’s a funny movie, but it’s also a parable about alcoholism. As everything goes to hell around them, Pegg’s character remains obsessed with finishing the pub crawl.
Pegg told Jonze “that’s what addiction is like. It’s like you have grown a second head and all it wants to do is destroy itself, and it puts that ahead of everything else — your marriage, children, your job.”