Jewish Journal

The Necessity of Relapse

by Beit T'shuvah

February 12, 2013 | 11:26 am

By Michael Welch

If you’re looking into getting sober don’t look at the statistics. I also caution you against listening to the stats given on the other end of the phone when researching for help. The chances of staying sober within the first year are 1 in 5. Then there is another 15% drop off into the second year, and another 20% within 5 years. These numbers could shy you right away from getting help; it’s as if addiction needed another excuse to prolong getting the necessary support to combating this ever-morphing disease. If you get lost and are defeated by the numbers, it’s ok. I’m here to convince you otherwise. I’m going to use the next 475 words to educate you in why those figures are appallingly low and millions of shifts are still made.

The most important component in getting help and finding the right rehab for you has nothing to do with their acclaimed success rate. In fact, the work that goes into finding the still sober members of one’s program look a bit like this:

Caller: Hello, are you still sober?
Client: Yes.
Caller: That’s great, take care.
Or Caller: Hello, are you still sober?
Client: No.
Caller: That’s not so great, we are currently offering a discounted rate for our Alumni, and instead of the normal $45,000 it’s going to be $40,000. But because you’re not paying our full-rate you won’t be able to partake in any therapy and will have to take a cab.  

If this seems dark and distant it’s because that’s exactly what it is. Not only does this process lack legitimacy, it leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth. What is important to note is the culture of the program. What do they offer that is attractive to you? What is their mission? Is their understanding of addiction immeasurable? Is the understanding in the treating of addiction also vast? If not and it appears finite then it implies gimmick. Things like a “cure” and a “guarantee” don’t exist. If it did the same clients wouldn’t be getting cured two and three times with the same product… I’ve been “cured” 23 times. Or am I missing something? What you need to buy into is the truth and program presentation. Wait lists mean something, credentials can mean something, write-ups in your local paper, and published articles mean something. Take note in the tone of the literature out there. Especially if you’re deficient in an area and that just so happens to be the area of expertise being offered.

The people who get the help are the following: those who are ready, those who aren’t ready, those who are forced, and those who aren’t forced. Successes are not measured on just time, but what’s changed. What has changed within the time entering rehab to now? What shifts are being gained and how is the person interacting with the world in ways they were unable to do so previously? For some, abstinence from the drink or drug is enough, and for others they need to experience a life that’s worth living. I’m not one to judge, I just caution you on the representation of sobriety. I’ve been combatting these mistakes for years.

I know thousands of people who have been helped who also know thousands of people as well. AA has helped millions and is “confidentially” found throughout the world. There is a movement going on that uses words such as “service”, “do the right thing”, “live well” and “action.” I’ve bought into this and those who knew me before I found these ideas cautiously attest that profound changes have been made. I see it in others that I could have declared hopeless and unworthy of being saved too. It’s radical and contagious. It’s been done by people who started and couldn’t stop. This makes sense for relapse; this is why without the lapse we wouldn’t get the shift. Of course relapse is necessary; you just don’t have to do it.

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