The "Insanity" of Drug and Alcohol Addiction

by Ned Wicker

“We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

So goes the second step. It’s one that many people struggle with because they are not necessarily people who recognize any power that can be of help, or in any positive way to influence their situation.

People so often will jump immediately to religion being forced down their throats, and the push-back in Step 2 can be fierce. But what is most interesting to me in this stopping off point is the word “sanity,” as it relates to addiction.

With addiction "sanity" is often lost!

If a power is going to restore us to sanity that implies that sanity has been lost. An old friend of mine is struggling to find answers to his daughter’s addiction to heroin. She was recently arrested and stood before a judge in drug court, having been found guilty of procession. Rather than jail, the judge sentenced her to treatment, which I believe is a far better option for all concerned.

However, she was in treatment for a short time, just long enough to get the heroin out of her system, then she went home and right away began to start using again. This is not the action of a reasonable, rational and fully functioning individual. It is the craving of an “insane” and addicted mind. Thankfully, she is enrolled in a program and if she is able to stay in and complete it, any felony conviction will be erased from her record.

Often hard to find addiction treatment

In today’s economy, real treatment and recovery is difficult. Heart operations make money, drug sales make money, but drug treatment is a loser. It isn’t a profitable enterprise and so many treatment centers feel the economic pinch because insurance companies don’t cover the costs.

The one I was affiliated with had to close its doors entirely. There is a remnant of the program, but it’s out-patient and not at all like it was years ago. People come in, get detoxification services, and go right back out there again. That’s really what happened to my friend’s daughter. Detox is not a treatment, it’s just one aspect of treatment.

Addicts OFTEN refuse treatment for their disease

One problem is that insane people can refuse treatment. People can reject the idea of being in a recovery group. It’s the way of the world now, but why should the “insane” person have the right to refuse treatment, or discontinue treatment? If they could handle things on their own, they wouldn’t be addicted.

His daughter clearly isn’t making good decisions, because at the present time, under her current mental state, she can’t make good decisions. Decisions must be made for her. Call it tough love, call it heavy-handed, but she can’t be the decision maker here, somebody else has to choose a path to health and well being. If left unchecked, her decisions will lead to an untimely death. Heroin doesn’t love her and care about her leading a productive and fulfilling life. Heroin just owns her until she’s gone.

She has yet to realize that she can’t do this alone. What she does understand is that she was in court and that something bad “could” happen if she continues using, but addiction really doesn’t care about the consequences. She will continue to use until something else begins to make the decisions and run her life. My friend is studying, asking questions and taking a proactive approach to his daughter’s sickness.

He is not merely assuming that it is her problem and that he is helpless. Alcoholics Anonymous has been a tremendous source of support, as he told me on the phone recently. Al-anon has been there for his family. Addiction is a family disease and he is doing his part, as head of the family, to lead the whole group through treatment and recovery.

He is willing to make hard choices, willing to partner with medical professionals and willing to allow his daughter to suffer consequences, rather than sweep her troubles under the rug and hope she gets better.

I told him about some of my major concerns with the court system and treatment. He believes the drug court in his state is a far better alternative than the regular criminal justice system, which arrests the addict, prosecutes them and incarcerates them without necessarily ever offering treatment, or an opportunity to get their lives in order.

He is grateful for the judge’s sentence of treatment, because he sees the alternative as being a road to nowhere for his daughter. Hopefully the program she is in now will be allowed to run its course and render positive results.

The restoration of sanity goes beyond detox, beyond the treatment stages, all the way to a spiritual renewal. Body, mind and spirit all need to be healthy.

The power that restores us to sanity, whatever that power is, must be given an opportunity to take action in the life of the addicted person. The insane mind is not necessarily going to be receptive to help, so the question becomes what do the rest of us do about that?

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