Addiction to drugs or alcohol is an abusive disease that takes its toll on the body, mind, and emotions of the addict. Typically, by the time one is ready to take stock of the damages and do something to arrest the disease, there is residual damage to physical health, brain functioning, and psycho-social well-being. In short, it is not uncommon that when alcohol or drugs stop working for the person and no longer enables them function, the personality of the individual is disordered. Addiction is soul shattering, often leading to a sense of spiritual bankruptcy, even among those who previously had a strong faith commitment.
The toll of drug and alcohol addiction doesn’t stop with the individual. Substance abuse also causes residual damage to family, colleagues, and community. Sometimes frustrated, yet well-meaning people in the addict’s life will tell them to, ‘Just say no.’ Then, when the addict is unable to live up to this edict, they are rejected.
Sadly, the “just-say-no” response to addiction does further damage because at many points in the progression of the disease, the addict would like nothing better than to stop. Many have said “no” repeatedly, daily, with heartfelt intention, only to be broken by the phenomenon of craving and the compulsion to use that baffles them and sends them back into the cycle they intended to avoid.
So, the answer is not, ‘Just say no.” The answer is ‘Just say yes’ to effective residential treatment for substance abuse and alcoholism, where the suffering individual has the opportunity to heal in a safe, loving and clinically managed atmosphere. In this place of rest and a respite from the routine of the destruction, addicts are immersed in a setting in which empathetic clinicians and operations staff don’t react to “addictive thinking or behaviors.” Instead they compassionately respond to client’s that act out. They skillfully use misconduct and inappropriate acting out as opportunities to provide gentle teaching moments and engage the client in healing therapeutic dialogue.