Treatment Resistant Addicts

Traditionally, youthful addicts have been the most treatment resistant. There are many factors that may be the cause of a low success rate: immaturity, feeling immortal, lack of impulse control, ADHD, depression and anxiety are a few.

By the time a client gets to us, they have often failed the more traditional attempts at recovery. Youthful addicts have a very difficult time accepting that they are powerless and often develop a resentment to the process that requires them to admit they are “powerless”. This power struggle between traditional addiction treatment methods and the addict is a common theme that many youthful addicts report. Parents, family and significant others are told there is no hope unless the addict can admit they are powerless. This can increase the resistance to treatment, often isolating the addict further.

While we certainly agree that in the addictive process the addict is completely powerless over his or her addictive behaviors, however, we also believe that there are areas of the addict’s life over which they have a level of control. Our goal is assist our clients in finding the areas of life that are in their power and control and in the beginning, focus our energy there. This difference allows the addict to develop a partnership with the recovery coach versus and adversarial relationship.

While there are several methods we can use to accomplish our goal of helping the youthful addict find areas of power in their lives, the overwhelming favorite and most successful is exercise. The recovery coach puts the client through vigorous workouts for twenty to thirty minutes, immediately sits down and begins a dialogue. The client has just successfully completed a workout, the endorphins are pumping through the brain, depression and anxiety have greatly been reduced which allows for a much more productive session than sitting in an office. Most clients are shocked that it seemed the session went by so quickly.

By implementing the exercise protocol, we have accomplished many things, the most important may be that exercise offers an immediate reduction in stress and anxiety. The client also feels they have a moment of success, they completed a difficult workout. There is also a discovery that they do have the ability to change their mood without the need of their former drug of choice. After a few sessions, the client is gaining physical strength, which becomes a motivator for continuing the program. We also use this opportunity to help the client improve their eating habits and develop healthy nutritional plans. Many clients who smoke cigarettes quit out of desire for better physical performance. The client can now start to understand how addictive behavior does make them powerless, but now they have found areas of life over which they have power. This is one of the methods that we use to connect with our clients, which eventually allows trust to develop and the recovery process really take hold.

In early November of 2013, I was referred three clients. They were all male, all heroin addicts and all had relapsed multiple times. They were 19, 24 and 26. None were working or in school. After an in-office meeting to gather background, our sessions were done in the gym. All three had been physically active at some point in their childhood, but had not done any exercise or sports for several years. From the first session each were completely engaged in treatment. They agreed that they would not use during the implementation of our program, this agreement included alcohol or any other drug, with the exception of medication prescribed by their doctors.

Each became very dedicated and reported a great reduction in depression, anxiety and cravings. They all agreed to cut out processed sugars and adopt a healthy diet, which included green smoothies once a day.

After two months of steady improvement, we decided to bring them together for group sessions. They developed a bond, became workout partners and exchanged smoothie recipes. As a group, they decided that they needed to quit smoking cigarettes.

This outstanding group of young men has maintained a solid recovery and has not used as of 05/01/2014, by far the longest period of recovery for any of the three. Two of the three have totally quit smoking, one is using a e-cigarette. All report no depression or anxiety. They each have been taken off any doctor prescribed meds and all three are in school or working, with one client doing both.

Every case will not have the same results, addiction is a brutal disease that often is fatal. The results of this small group is promising and there are other examples of success.

If you or someone you care about has struggled with addiction, it may be time to look at a new way of attacking the problem. Please give me a call at 804 335 4343 for a free phone session to see if our program would be a good fit.