“Relapse is Part of Recovery” Or is it?
We hear this statement made all the time from counselors, rehab professionals, interventionists, AA members, and people “in recovery” alike. But is it true? Is relapse a part of recovery, or is it just another fear-based marketing tool to keep the 45 billion dollar treatment industry filled with lifelong customers?
The first thing we have to examine is the term, relapse, itself. Relapsing back to what exactly? The term relapse is disease lingo, so it isn’t a coincidence that the disease-based treatment and recovery industry uses this word to describe those who return to use. If an addiction disease that requires recovery did in fact exist, this term would fit. Problem is, the disease of addiction is a myth; it doesn’t actually exist. Therefore recovery from it is a misnomer as well.
This isn’t to say that tragic and problematic substance use habits don’t exist (it’s weird that when one takes the non-disease stance, recovery zealots immediately jump to the false equivalency, “What’s wrong with you! You don’t think people have drug problems!”). Let me be clear, The Freedom Model understands all too well the reality that heavy substance use habits can have costly negative trade-offs. Remember, all of the co-authors of The Freedom Model were heavy users at one time; we certainly understand from first-hand experience the pain of feeling addicted. But feeling addicted is a state of mind based on erroneous beliefs, it is not a disease. That’s a simple fact.
Now, if you want to understand how we can say addiction is not a disease, that is outside the scope of this short article. However, for clarity on that topic, you can get a copy of The Freedom Model for Addictions, Escape the Treatment and Recovery Trap at www.thefreedommodel.org.
So Why Do They Say It?
So why does the drug and alcohol treatment and recovery industry say “relapse is a part of recovery”? It’s quite simple really.The treatment industry needs a medical diagnostic code to get reimbursed for alcohol and drug treatment, its pharmaceuticals, labor costs, facilities, and ultimately to make a profit. By creating a disease out of thin air in the early 50’s, this was accomplished. Since then, health insurance funding and public Medicaid funding is available for all “treatment and recovery” services. Research showed early on that treatment methods had high failure rates, but it was largely ignored, because it’s not about actually helping people to solve their problem; it’s about money.
By calling it a disease that requires lifelong recovery, the industry is applying a method (rehab/treatment) for something other than what is real. We all agree that the substance user’s problematic use is real; very real. But where reality and the charade split is when the addiction-help industry began applying disease protocols for a non-disease problem. Thus, the “treatment” is completely ineffective and in many cases downright harmful. The net result is what we are seeing today, and have witnessed for decades – complete treatment and recovery failure, with overdoses and addiction rates skyrocketing, and spending for “treatment” also skyrocketing!
As if that isn’t enough, here’s where things get really crazy. Rather than admit that treatment and rehabs are ineffective and harmful, and changing them to a more successful method, the industry adopted a way to normalize their failed model – they lowered the standards of success in their model. They make the overall failure of the system a part of the system’s expected result. Furthermore, the technique of lowering the standard of success to the lowest possible level (relapse is expected), normalizes failure as a predetermined expected result. It gets reframed as a part of recovery’s success! They say, “Of course you relapsed, that’s just part of recovery!” And when you read that slowly, you can see the absolute absurdity of the statement.
It’s time to have higher standards for those suffering with their habits. That’s what we did when we started the Freedom Model more than 3 decades ago. We set high standards, abandoned everything, and started anew. The result was exposing the treatment and recovery society for all its lies, and the construction of a model that has proven to be more than 10 times more effective – The Complete Addiction Solution Program. If you are seeking an alternative to addiction treatment and recovery that does not place your failure as the gold standard, you might look up the Freedom Model – it’s a model based in reality not fiction, and our standard of success is complete personal power and freedom!
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