Getting on with Your Life after Treatment

This is a common topic when someone calls us for help for their drug or alcohol issue. “What kind of aftercare do you provide once John completes his stay with you?” “Is there relapse prevention so Donna will have the tools to avoid relapsing?” “Derek needs employment when he finishes the program or he will get drunk again.” “I will definitely need aftercare as I’ve been to treatment and relapsed several times.”

These kinds of questions regarding post-treatment planning arise because of the massive misinformation that has been promoted in the treatment industry for the last 60 years. They are based in the idea that “addicts/alcoholics” are weak and cannot overcome the cravings they are taught they will inevitably endure after they leave rehab. By teaching this disempowering view, they build the argument that “continuing care” is necessary for the freshly released patient to remain sober.

But what if this perspective was wrong? What if instead, people were taught a message that was so clear and concise, and that addressed addiction from an entirely different and empowering perspective that such safety nets were totally unnecessary? That model exists, but before we get to that, it’s important to understand what “getting on with your life after treatment” looks like according to the treatment industry standards.

After Rehab

The normal path that is taken by disease-based treatment centers is a 1 to 2 month residential program, followed by a “sober living” facility for a few months in which “relapse prevention” classes and 12 step support meetings are offered. (Many of these sober living houses say they offer these services, when in fact they are actually warehousing “addicts” to collect their insurance money. In far too many cases such as the now famed “Florida shuffle”, an entire criminal enterprise has flourished on the backs of vulnerable families sending their children unknowingly into “sober living facilities” that are actual drug houses backed by insurance fraud schemes.) The point of all this is the push for patients to attend a sober living or relapse prevention protocols post-rehab, regardless of the fact that this path is completely ineffective, and in many cases leads to tragic high rates of death due to overdose and suicide and criminal activities perpetrated on the innocent.

So what is the answer? First, as researchers, it is incumbent on the researcher to ask why the rates of overdose post-treatment are so astoundingly high. Would not the presumption be that the rate of overdose and suicide should be lower than the general population of pre-treatment addicts and alcoholics? Why do we accept the fact that these rates are much higher AFTER someone attends treatment? And when the rates are seen for what they are (higher), why do we as a society clamor for more of the same – more treatment, more funding, and more of the post-residential-program chaos? The answer is simply that most people in the general population have been taught the opposite of the facts. They have been fed the idea that treatment works, when in fact it lowers success rates and creates the very crisis it is supposed to be curbing. I realize that last statement is shocking, but it is true.

Do Not Go to Treatment!

There is no reason whatsoever to go to treatment. (This statement does not include medical detox – as medical detox may be necessary for certain alcohol and drug users. When we are mentioning treatment, we mean the common idea of “rehab”.) Treatment harms; it lowers success; it makes a temporary problem (addiction) into a permanent condition (the progressive, incurable disease of addiction). It’s filled with the idea that in order to prevent a relapse one must continue to stay a ward of the treatment complex by remaining trapped in sober living, support groups, or stay on lifelong medical replacement “therapies” such as Suboxone and methadone maintenance. It’s based on the idea that people must be shield from being triggered to use. All of this is predicated on the idea that addiction “happens to you.” But addiction does not happen to you – it is a preference the individual has for substances. It is something you actively do for your own personal reasons. There is no shielding someone from something they actually prefer. Actions speak louder than any treatment propaganda – addicts choose their preferences carefully and willfully. Drinkers prefer to drink heavily for internal personal reasons; they are not hapless victims of alcohol.

Any solution that tries to shield or “prevent” one from doing what they prefer is doomed to failure, no matter how much fear you might try to instill in them to deter them. Even the threat of death won’t work forever. Just look at the rates of relapse in relapse prevention programs that promote the fear of drugs and alcohol if you want to see how well fear works as a formal deterrent for use.
There is no actual way for external forces such as relapse prevention or sober living to fix a drinking or drug problem because these are external forces attempting to fix an individual’s internal preference for certain substances. The only way to make a change is from within the individual’s free will – the individual must choose for him/herself what they want to change. There are no treatments necessary or needed, there are just choices to be made, preferences to be reconsidered and changed.

But I’m in Treatment – So what Now?

We have established that the disease model is a charade that attempts to do the impossible; change a person’s internal preferences with external means, and to do so largely against their will. No external force can make a person change something they are unwilling to change. That change can only occur at the level of that individual, and change can be rapid and freeing if given the latitude to make the choice themselves, and if they are provided the facts that the disease concept (including the brain disease version) is bunk.

The Freedom Model is exactly what it says it is; a path to freedom. There is no need to be sheltered from triggers, or go to relapse prevention, or aftercare, because there are only personal choices to be made. If you prefer to abstain or moderate because you personally see more benefits in those options than in heavy use, you will naturally move in that direction. While simple and effective, this approach is relatively unheard of in regards to substance use habits because the treatment for disease myth is so loud and prevalent. You can move on after treatment because in the Freedom Model you are never treated – rather you are shown how you can change your preferences and prefer new options. You then base your level of change on what would make you happier in both the short term and the long run. This is all literally an “inside job.” No need to “prevent” relapses – just choose what would make you happier. If choosing heavy use makes you happier, no amount of external deterrents is going to stop you. Instead of waiting for treatment to “work” you can get to work on deciding what will make you happier and more satisfied. In the end, treated or not, you will need to make this decision if drugs and alcohol use is currently harming you. Maybe it is time to choose complete freedom and move past the entire addiction disease construct for good.