Addiction treatment professionals are forever up against clients who ‘heard’ things from friends or at the tables in self-help groups or read on the internet. Here are a few of the more common:
- I can smoke weed: I’m alcoholic/heroin addict, so it isn’t my drug of choice.
- I can drink. It’s legal.
- If I don’t drink daily, I’m not an alcoholic.
- Rehab doesn’t work, just look at their success rates.
- A year of clean time is all I need, then I can dabble again.
These are little more than fantasies, urban legends and excuses made by dime-store doctors. The old-timers with a ton of sobriety under their belts are old-timers for a reason. The fact is, there aren’t many folks in long-term recovery who have subscribed to the dime-store doctors. If you were born after Air Jordans, a dime store (or five and dime) used to be a variety store mainstay of Main Street America before you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting a Walmart. Walmart, by the way, started out as a five and dime in 1950. The dime-store doctor is a clerk with expertise on everything in the store and, therefore, any other topic. When they grow up, they become dime-store prophets. Then hedge fund managers.
A person who is actively using their drug of choice or second-choice will rely on any resource which justifies continued use of that drug. Period. The longer they look or Google or seek a second or fifth opinion, the more they are likely to find a fantasy, urban legend or excuse. Such clients operate on Beauregard’s Law: All men are cremated equal.
It’s no easy task for treatment professionals to combat the thinking errors of someone who wants to continue to use, however citing evidence-based research until blue in the face isn’t the most effective. We’ve made great strides in our knowledge of drugs, treatments, and outcomes in the last decade: More than any other period in history. Sometimes none of it matters more than common sense. Common sense has proven to be the treatment pro’s best remedy for really dumb ideas. The best part is that if you ask the person if they can hear what they speak, they usually solve the thinking error on their own.
If they need a nudge, it’s helpful, though a little sarcastic, to point out:
- According to the internet, Hoffa is still alive, too.
- People who know way more than you and I combined and have far more experience in the matter have come to an entirely different conclusion about continued drug use than your friends have.
- According to Joe at the meeting, who’s relapsed seven times, Near Beer IS ok.
- One hundred percent of alcoholics quit drinking: Some are still alive that day.
- One hundred percent of people in treatment are still breathing.
- THC, cocaine, heroin, opiates, benzodiazepines, and alcohol, etc. are all drugs with mood-altering properties. Regardless of the availability or legal status, you’ve exhausted your lifetime pass for chemically altering your mood or WE wouldn’t be having this discussion.
Addicted Minds’ Editor-in-Chief, Scott Stevens, is the author of four alcohol books including the December 2016 release, I Can’t See The Forest With All These Damn Trees In The Way: The Health Consequences of Alcohol. The new BookLocker title is available now on Amazon (viewbook.at/prehab), alcohologist.com, and everywhere books are sold. Photo by Creatista, used with permission.