Understanding the Disease of Addiction and the Recovery Required to Heal
The disease of addiction, and the personality of the addict, is characterized by a number of consistent and universal traits. Similar to many other illnesses, untreated consequences can span many areas including social and/or family relationships; emotional, physical, or mental health; financial, legal, and/or work status and more.
Understanding Addiction as a Disease
The first step to understanding drug addiction as a disease is to be aware that it is a primary illness and does not find its genesis in parenting style, mental health issues, family of origin or circumstance. These factors may exacerbate addiction, and vice versa, but they are not the central issue. The disease of addiction is both progressive and chronic. If left unabated it gets worse over time and addicts do not find a miraculous epiphany that enables them to later moderate their use.
To truly understand addiction, we need to realize the personality of an addict. What differentiates the addict from the “normy”, is primarily characterized by an inherent and pervasive sense of alienation, sensitivity, over-reaching need for love and external validation, and egregious fears. Addicts are often self-described as “terminally unique.” Because the addict perceives his or her self as unique, societal norms no longer apply to them, nor is solace found through conventional means.
In order to quell the pain of separation and alienation, addicts use chemicals, manipulate families, lie, steal, cheat, invent personalities (those we find most attractive), and discard their true selves. In the end, the addict occupies his or her original body, but appears as a phantom of their true selves. Every time we step on other people to get high, guilt and shame are the consequence. In order to subordinate the sense of shame, more chemicals are used, loved ones are avoided, and a life of fear and hiding is created.
Understanding Recovery from Drug Addiction
At Jacob ’s ladder, we believe that abstinence without a committed recovery lifestyle is not a long-term solution to the disease of drug addiction. A healthy, life-long recovery is achieved through appropriate long-term treatment - to practice and live a meaningful existence. Jacob’s Ladder’s unique offerings which include a working farm, music & art programs and wilderness adventure therapy is a synthesis of multiple treatment modalities designed deliberately to offer individual customization and to facilitate an enlightened awakening for a lasting recovery experience.
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