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The Benefits of Adjusted Substance Use

Chapter 21: The Freedom Model

Typically, when people make a formal attempt to address a substance use problem through treatment or support groups they strongly believe that they must quit completely. If they don't arrive at this conclusion themselves, the helpers in the recovery society often try to force it upon them using scare tactics, and they face ultimatums from loved ones or the legal system to fully abstain. The result is that they hastily jump to abstinence as their goal with little thought of the potential benefits of abstinence. In fact, from the substance user's point of view this goal of abstinence doesn't usually appear to have any benefits and instead they see it as a significant loss. They think it's what they "have to do," or "should do." That is, they don't see it as something that they "want to do." Proceeding with a hastily chosen goal that you don't really want is a recipe for failing at that goal. There is no personal investment in such a goal; there is no real motivation which means that as quickly as the goal is adopted, it is often just as quickly abandoned.

Throughout our history of running the retreats, our specialty has been helping those who've been in and out of multiple rehabs - the "hopeless cases." Even now, most of our guests come to us because they've failed with recovery society methods many times, and we promise a truly different way to approach the problem. For many in this group we are their last shot. As such, we refuse to encourage yet another hastily chosen attempt at abstinence that ends in failure and leaves our guests feeling even more hopeless.

Please don't misunderstand us, we're not advising against abstinence, and we should mention that if you're in a very destructive and dangerous pattern of substance use abstaining completely can be a wonderful decision to make. It is a fast and relatively easy way to immediately remove a massive amount of risk from your life and so, hasty or not, it can be a great and effective choice. However, we're also concerned with the long term and bigger picture. We're concerned with you finding a lasting solution. To that end, a key difference in the Freedom Model approach is that we have always asked our guests to contemplate making a change for greater personal happiness. That is, we asked them not to adjust their substance use because they fear consequences or feel like they are obligated to do so, but to adjust it because it may be the more enjoyable way for them to live. Are you ready to consciously make a choice for greater happiness?

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