Monday, September 10, 2007

Concrete steps to address addiction


Alcoholism and drug addiction afflict approximately 10 percent of the American population. For every one person afflicted, eight are affected.

There is a solution.

The economic costs of addiction in terms of lost productivity are approximately $375 billion annually.

There is a solution.

The solution is recovery. September is National Recovery Month -- an opportunity for us to recognize and celebrate that there is a way to address what is probably humanity's oldest disease -- addiction.

For more than 50 years, the American Medical Association has labeled alcoholism and addiction as a disease, yet many doctors and much of the American population see it as a choice -- and a moral failing. Addiction is a physical, emotional, and spiritual disease. It is a chronic, fatal, frequently genetic, and often relapsing illness -- much like various forms of cancer. But like cancer, it is treatable; recovery is the solution.

In our community, there are many organizations and institutions that offer recovery from addiction, and The Healing Place is privileged to be one of them. Nearly every form of addressing addiction works to some degree.

Millions of people are in long-term recovery from alcoholism and addiction. For example, The Healing Place has more than 2,300 alumni. The recovery program works -- 65 per cent of our alumni stay sober for at least one year (the national benchmark) and most much longer. That's five times the national average. And recovery need not be expensive. Our program costs $25 per client, per day vs. $250 or more in many treatment programs. Clients pay nothing; they are supported by generous gifts from private and public sources.

How does recovery work?

The only requirement for recovery is the willingness to ask for help. It's a turning point. Individuals face the fact that they are unable to stop using alcohol and drugs. Asking for help is the beginning of change for people who want to change but don't know how. People stop living for themselves and their own gratification and submit to "a power greater than themselves," what many call God.

Like some recovery programs, The Healing Place program is based on two, seemingly contradictory principles: unconditional love and personal accountability.

Alcoholics and addicts cannot love themselves and cannot believe that anyone can love them; they believe that God is vindictive and punitive and responsible for their plight.

They are irresponsible; they have given up caring for themselves and frequently their own families.

How do alcoholics and addicts change? By learning that others love them, God loves them, and they are responsible for what they have done and who they will become. They recover a spiritual way of living.

How do they learn that?

From other alcoholics and addicts.

Bill Wilson and the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous discovered the simple yet profoundly powerful principle that therapy and healing can come from those who are similarly afflicted. Like some programs, our recovery model is led by our alumni. The healing of The Healing Place is done by those who have been healed or, more accurately, by those who are healing.

When they discover healing, they find a joy that can be witnessed but not described. When they leave, they say two things:

You saved my life.

Before I arrived, I had no relationship with God but now I do.

When they leave, they find jobs or pursue educational opportunities. They are often reunited with their families. They become productive citizens.

So, in behalf of all those who are healing and those who need healing, I invite you to celebrate recovery this month. Tell a loved one; tell a friend:

JAY P. DAVIDSON

President/CEO

The Healing Place of Louisville

Louisville 40202

8 comments:

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