I worked in the business office at New Hope Manor for several years. Nick Roes, who at the time was the executive director of this women’s residential substance abuse recovery center in Sullivan County NY, told me something about addiction and recovery I have never forgotten.
Nick said that the majority of people who become addicted to alcohol or drugs do eventually recover. He said something else that stuck with me: rehab can play a helpful part for some people, but that most recover without formal rehab.
When I asked him about how this can be (after all, wasn’t it his job to promote rehab?) he replied that people eventually figure out what they have to do to stay clean. In other words it is for most a process of trial and error. What works for one person might not work so well for another person. People who find the motivation to overcome their addictions discover what works for them and they learn to stick with it.
The conversation with Nick came back to mind a few days ago when I read an opinion piece in the New York Times a friend in North Carolina sent me. “Addiction Doesn’t Always Last a Lifetime” is the title. The writer, Maia Szalavitz, is probably most famous for her book, The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog. But she has also written about addiction, especially in another of her books, Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction.
In her Times opinion piece, Szalavitz offers stories of six recovering addicts, each who pursued a different path to recovery. Some included stints in rehab, but others found the path forward through meaningful work, relationships, spirituality and medication assisted treatment.
The stories were all encouraging. Szalavitz’s piece can be found here.