What makes my opinion about addiction relapse treatment prevention any more meaningful than those on staff at rehabilitation centers? I’ve been there. I am an alcoholic. I have been sober since July 10th, 1985.
That anniversary means more to me than my actual birthday. And I am proud of my 25+ years of sobriety, but every time I think of that accomplishment, every time I tell vodka you are just a part of my past, a part of me feels sad. Sad for the friends that went through rehab with me and are no longer here to share mutual joy and tremendous relief for getting that devil of a monkey off our backs.
Yes, even today those stinking thoughts still hit me out of nowhere, and although I reject such thoughts, they are an involuntary occurrence that makes me think “where the hell did that thought come from?” After 25+ years of sobriety, they still happen, albeit less frequently, and I now know those thoughts will always crop up. It’s just the way it is.
When I went through rehab, twelve of us were going to graduate within days of each other. We felt a common bond, a camaraderie that we all wanted to have continue past our stay at the rehab. Within months, literally, ten of those graduates stopped communicating with Debra and me. Two had died, eight reverted to their old ways. Soon after, Debra disappeared, having kept her return to alcohol a secret. I was the only remaining sober graduate. What made me the fortunate graduate? What caused me to succeed when all my beloved rehab companions failed?
It wasn’t the rehab center! My counselor said I’d receive a follow-up call in 6 months, again at my one year anniversary, then again after two years. She never called, no one from that center called. It made me feel like they didn’t care. They appeared only to be concerned with in-house patients because that’s where the money is. Heck, at least with a follow-up phone call I could have been a statistic. And a positive statistic at that!
So what did I do differently than my companions once we were back in society, trying to build a new life? I was the only one who utilized a light and sound instrument. An InnerQuest IQ-III to be exact. Bless the late Rob Robinson for having his products available! I firmly believe having a light and sound mind machine at my immediate disposal for use when those ‘bad thoughts’ started infiltrating my mind, my thought processes, and my mental and emotional disposition made all the difference in the world. I was the only one to use a mind machine out of our graduating class of twelve, and I am the only one still sober, still alive. I don’t care how administrators or therapists feel about that statement, because I know it, firmly believe it as the one variable that helped me maintain my sobriety whereas my friends, who did not have light and sound mind machines at their disposal- failed.
It’s time to put as much emphasis on staying clean/sober after graduation as it is for getting clean/sober while being an in-house patient. Light/sound mind machine technology has the sessions that can help control addictive behaviors, to help lay the foundations for a positive mental and emotional attitude, and for giving the recovering addict instant access for overcoming that stinking thinking thought pattern that strikes at any time, anywhere. Put stronger emphasis on relapse prevention and you will see less failure rates among rehab graduates, which in turn improves the credibility of rehabilitational programs.
Think about it: I was the only one to use light and sound after graduating and I am the only one still sober.
So you are probably saying that’s just one example. Phooey! I went through it, have you? What of all the others I’ve met since my graduation who also experience addictive behaviors? Be it for sex addiction, cocaine, downers, meth, you name it. They’ve all taken to using light and sound mind machines because it personally helps them cope. So the next time you are sitting in a staff meeting, discussing how to improve your success rate and increase your funding, look no further than www.Mindmachines.com. You’ll find a very cost-effective and highly beneficial tool that can improve your program’s success rate, which in turn will help when submitting paperwork for additional funding, and oh yes, actually give your graduates a fighting chance at staying clean and sober for quite possibly the rest of their life.
Over the years I have been involved with several rehabilitation centers as a consultant for getting neurofeedback and/or light and sound programs initiated (learning / relaxation). Basically, I would show them what these mind machines look like and how to use them, how they can be incorporated into their existing methods of treatment, and instructing them on how to maximize the sessions for the benefit of their patients. Why I choose to do this is to open the eyes of therapists and administrators to the cost- effectiveness and benefits that mind machines offer. Especially when many rehabs are facing extreme cutbacks and even closure. But more importantly, I do this because as beneficial as the treatment patients receive while staying at a rehab center are, most rehabs tend to turn their patients loose after fulfilling their time at the center, telling them good luck and to call if they feel setbacks approaching. Shouldn’t graduates be given tools to take home with them for preventing relapses from occurring?
Once out, patients find themselves in a world that hasn’t changed. Only they have changed. Granted the only way an addict can truly stop their addiction is to really want to quit, to change their routine once back in society, and to abstain from visiting the places they frequented before checking into a rehab. But it is so hard for an addict to do this without mental and emotional support. This is where I believe most rehabs fail. They put so much emphasis on treatment while the patients are attending the rehab, and seemingly have little time to keep track of what happens to their patients once they graduate.
I have seen too many individuals fall back into their addictive behaviors because such mental and emotional support groups are not available in time of need. Is that a cop-out reason to revert to old ways? Sure. Not being able to make new friends who are clean and/or sober causes them to seek out old friends that shared the same addiction? Yes, that too is a pretty lame excuse. But when the urge to revert to old ways is strong, when that old addictive ‘friend’ is beckoning for their return, the addictive cycle rears it’s ugly head. A large percentage of ex-patients become new patients once again. With the cost of rehabilitative treatment being so astronomical, and the time necessary to stay at these facilities lasting from several days to several weeks, even months, I would think more rehab centers would put a stronger emphasis on relapse prevention; meaning once an individual graduates, greater importance should be placed on assisting them re-integrate into society, re-integrate with themselves, and make available more tools for the graduate for immediate utilization of overcoming that ‘stinking thinking’ urge that can pop up at any time, for any reason. Those thoughts just occur out of nowhere, and when they happen, it is an anxious and frightening experience for the newly clean/sober individual. They don’t get these thoughts because they want to, they get these thoughts because addictions are waking nightmares. Stinking thinking, in my opinion, falls short in describing just how awful these urges and thoughts can be.
It is not my intention to upset the administrators of rehabs, but with many rehab counselors and therapists themselves once being addicted to ‘their favorite friend’, and often experiencing personal relapses themselves, rehabs must wake up to the increased need of having tools accessible for their graduates. Tools that can help overcome those sudden urges faster than calling a counselor and being told they will get right back to you after they finish their in-house group counseling session.
That is the potential of light and sound mind machines in relapse recovery. It is just one tool to help maintain a clean/sober life. It has worked for me, it has worked for the dozens of people I’ve met since beginning my own recovery, and it can work for today’s addicts trying desperately to quit the very addiction that is killing them. It’s time you give this modality serious thought, that is, if you are actually serious in helping your patients remain clean/sober.
Michael Landgraf can be reached at www.Mindmachines.com