The Freedom Model for Addictions has the tagline, Escape the Treatment and Recovery Trap. It’s widely known after more than seventy years of failure, that the treatment industry is rife with scams and has abysmal success in helping people overcome addictions. Teaching vulnerable people that they are powerless to move past their addiction is bound to lower an individual’s desire to attempt a change in their lifestyle. Unfortunately, the focus on disease mythology and the need for treatment to address said disease has lead to our society spending billions each year with no increase in success rates for those who are struggling with an addiction. In other words – pulling more people into a system that has failed to produce success for more than 7 decades is clearly not the answer. The facts show the truth, the treatment and recovery trap hasn’t worked.
For this very reason, The Freedom Model’s tagline of describing treatment as a trap has resonated with thousands who have read the book and embraced its message of moving past the Western constructs of addiction and the treatment for it. People know the treatment game isn’t working – they get that; they see it daily in those they know who have gone through multiple rehabs only to leave worse than when they went in. They naturally and logically embrace the fact that addiction is not a disease (no matter how hard the treatment industry, insurance companies and big pharma try to mainstream that idea.)
But here is where things get muddy, as soon as you mention that perpetual recovery from addiction is just as ineffective as the treatment for it, some people become skeptical. Describing recovery as being a trap is a difficult concept for people to grasp. The question is, why? If you know that addiction is not a disease then logic would follow that if there is no disease, then there can be no treatment for it, and as such, there is no recovery from it. Yet, we hear people say that “addicts need recovery” or are forever “in recovery from addiction.”
We recently published a fantastic article written by fellow Freedom Model co-author Steven Slate that tackles this issue in finite detail. It is probably one of the most important articles written in the last decade. It explains why recovery has become a sacred cow in our culture, and it addresses the confusion surrounding the term and how to untangle the mess so the individual can free themselves from the recovery myth. (You can access his article by clicking here.)
But Isn’t Recovery a Good Thing?
Isn’t recovering from addiction positive? Isn’t it a necessary part of moving past addictions? Being a critic of recovery is something you seldom hear or see anywhere else in the addiction help arena besides The Freedom Model. The reason is simple; the concept of a former heavy substance user being “in recovery” or being in “need of recovery” services is extremely popular. Unlike the disease concept that gets constant criticism for its supposed validity, few take that next step to criticize the validity of its stable mate, recovery. It’s a case of seeing the lightening clearly but not paying attention to the thunder.
What is Recovery?
To put it simply, recovery implies disease. It states that a person was afflicted by something outside of their immediate control. Yet, there is no disease of addiction. People are not stricken or afflicted with substance use. Believing yourself to be recovering from a disease or disorder that, in fact, does not exist is a horrible distraction. If you have a habit of biting your nails or chewing your hair or smoking, and you quit, you never say that you are “in recovery” from stopping those behaviors.
You may be asking, how does believing you need to be “in recovery” make your life harder? The answer is simple, recovery distracts the individual from making a lasting change. It forever ties that person to a past behavior that they are no longer doing. In other words, by labeling yourself as “a person in recovery” you remain forever tied to the “fight against addiction”. You continue to “battle addiction”, when you can simply move past an addiction and behave differently. Please know, I’m not saying that getting past an addiction is always easy, although it is for some. I’m saying that it becomes easier after you’ve eliminated the distractions of the disease and recovery myths! Once those distractions are cleared away by the facts, anyone can easily choose to change their behaviors and habits.
Addiction Does Not Happen to You
Let me say that again – addiction does not happen to you. If addiction were an actual disease, it would happen to you. Like any disease, you would have no control. Yet, we know from more than 7 decades of research that addiction does not hold the same characteristics as a disease at all. So there is nothing to battle. There is no pathogen, and no agent bent on your destruction. Booze and drugs don’t happen to people. They cannot, and do not, change the content of your thoughts and force you to crave and keep using.
Because addiction does not happen to you, there is no recovery needed. There is just an analysis about what you find valuable in the drinking and drugging activity you’ve chosen for yourself. Analyzing the utility or futility of a series of choices is worlds apart from needing support to recover from an outside force or disease bent on your demise. Once you know there is no force to fight, you will no longer feel as if you need to battle your own desires to get high and drunk. You can simply decide if you still find that activity valuable to you. When distracted by the myth of an internal battle for control, then the path to change becomes very, very cloudy and that much more difficult.
AA’s idea that alcohol/drugs are “cunning, baffling and powerful” was the single line that put the “recovery movement” on the map more than 70 years ago. The mythical battle with substances was born. You no longer have to believe in these myths. You don’t have to battle your wants and desires any more. You don’t have to “recover from addiction”, you can instead ask yourself what value the activity of getting drunk or high has in your life, and change the behavior accordingly.
If this article is hard for you to understand, it’s because the mythology of addiction and recovery are well entrenched in your mind, and reinforced by your own choices. If you want your battle with yourself to finally end, you will need to dispel all of these myths first. I encourage you to take the time to read our book, The Freedom Model for Addictions. By the time you are done, you will find no need for addiction or recovery. You will see a path to move beyond both of those concepts entirely. That my friend, is true freedom!
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