Mr. Steven Slate of Saint Jude Retreats was given the opportunity to present at a Tedx Talk in Tahoe City, CA on September 17th. Mr. Slate discussed “Our Relationship to Addiction”. He explains the unique approach taken by Saint Jude Retreats in their upcoming work on the Freedom Model, co-written by Steven Slate and Mark Scheeren, Chairman of Saint Jude Retreats. Mr. Slate discusses evidence for the statement, Treatment Doesn’t Work, and goes further to establish that traditional treatment and rehab beliefs and culture actually creates “addicts”.

The Freedom Model takes a revolutionary approach to substance use that dispels the fear-based myths of “addiction” to truly free substance users from “addiction”, “relapse”, and “recovery”. The Freedom Model addresses how beliefs shape substance use behavior, expectations, and outcomes. For the first time, there is a completely self-directed, self-correcting permanent solution to addiction that holds no person slave to a particular program, belief, or outcome. At a time when only 1 in 10 people get treatment for addiction, how is it possible the 90% who don’t get treatment overwhelmingly do better and end their addiction while 67% of those who do get treatment get worse? Steven Slate explains how the “playground effect” has an impact on not only how we perceive substance use but also on the type of help we provide for those struggling with substance use issues.

Fear based beliefs and addiction myths promoted by treatment can condemn substance users to a lifetime of struggle and relapse. By rejecting these same beliefs, substance users can quickly and completely resolve their “addiction” problem. What you or your loved one believe about substance use choices and addiction can make or break if you or they take on the identity of an addict struggling with a lifetime of relapse or moves successfully past excessive substance use totally and forever. Finally, with the Freedom Model, there is an effective way to help people shape their own lasting, effective outcomes by changing key beliefs and dispelling addiction myths.

We’re trying to change the way the world thinks about problematic substance use. One of our program developers gave this TEDx talk a few months ago, and it just came online last week. This is not only a non-disease view, it is essentially a non-addiction view. If you watch, just keep in mind that there’s obviously much more nuance to this than he could fit into 18 minutes. Our educational program at The Saint Jude Retreats delves into this nuance, and shows our guests how to effectively choose to change.

After watching the video, you may ask “yeah, but what is your solution?” Our solution is informed personal choice – unimpeded by the falsehood that we aren’t in control of our substance use; unimpeded by shame; unimpeded by duty or obligation to quit; unimpeded by scare tactics.

The solution starts with knowing that you are choosing to use for personal happiness, for better or worse. That even if you are unhappy with many results of your substance use, you still view it as your best available option when you do it – that is, you prefer it (if you don’t believe this, consider the fact that even those who say they “don’t like it”, will also readily tell you that life is unbearable without drinking/drugging).

No amount of focusing on the costs of substance use will permanently scare you out of doing it. Trying to maintain a quit or reduction in use with such fear is not a long term solution, because it makes us feel deprived, and becomes a willpower battle. Pursuit of happiness drives substance use, and it will also drive a reduction/quit of substance use.

Once the above is realized, it’s a matter of truly seeing moderation/abstinence as *the more fulfilling option* than heavy use. There is a lot that can be explored about the perceived benefits of substance use to change the way we see these options. This needs to be primarily about benefits, rather than costs. The option that appears most beneficial will be easy to follow through on. That means, not seeing quitting or moderating as a loss, but as an overall gain (in both the long and short term).

That is the process of choosing. Once you do it, there is no maintenance needed; no complicated method, no support, etc. There is just a choice.

We can’t reiterate this enough – if the choice is made based on negatives (fears of getting arrested, overdosing, etc), it probably won’t last. It’s not a choice that people are sincerely invested in. People will say “I swore it off before and it didn’t work” – but that was just something that they were scared into, or felt cornered, shamed, or otherwise obligated to do. The choice that lasts is the one made in pursuit of joy.

You will see that everyone who has happily & stably quit/moderated by whatever method, has arrived at the belief that their new way is much happier than their old way. Those who teeter and constantly “relapse” usually see quitting/moderating as misery – they maintain the view that they’re missing out by not using heavily. You can choose to change, be happy about it, make it last, and be free of the chains of addiction and ongoing efforts to maintain recovery.