Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Recovery is Contagious

"Change your playmates and you  change your life".

It's well documented that addiction is contagious. People who associate with those who have an addiction are most likely to develop addiction themselves. The presence of a only one abstinent person in one's social network reduces the risk of developing addiction by more than a quarter.

The greatest density of long term abstinent persons are found in 12 step self help groups.  Doctors in recovery had a greater than 80% likelihood of long term abstinence and the vast majority of those return to and continue working in their recovery. There is even evidence that people who recover become 'better than well'.  Followed as a cohort they are indeed healthier.

There is a tendency to provide 'housing' and other 'services' to those who are addicted without realizing that it isn't 'housing' alone that is beneficial but 'safe and clean' housing. Locally the greatest difficulty for those recovery is the constant harrassment and forceful marketting by 'drug pushers'.  'Goddam the Pusherman' written by the Canadian rock bank, Steppenwolf, summed up the 'problem' decades ago. 

The illicit drug industry is no different from the tobacco industry. Promotion and marketting are central to the multi billion dollar profits. Marijuana is such an illicit drug too.  Once a 'near beer' potency, today its potency is the equivalence of the 'white lightning' LSD of the 70's.

Those who attend self help programs are the most likely to sustain long term sobriety.  Research shows that attendance is not as effective as participation in the 12 steps.  Those who actually participate show a high rate of recovery. It's been compared to knowing basketball, those who are playing the game versus those who are sitting in the bleachers. That said, even those who are required to attend self help programs are at higher likelihood of recovery than not as evidenced by the overwhelming success of 'drug courts' compared to jailing drug abusers.

The more 'activity' in a persons life, like work, volunteer work, hobbies, activities, institutions, group involvment , the greater the likelihood of success. "Change your playground' and you're stay clean and sober is a motto well demonstrated by research. However those who have an apartment where they have used and is associated with abuse may in fact have greater risk than those whose addiction causes them to have to find new accomodation that is drug free.  Those who are able to live in drug free environment surrounded by people who do not use are most likely to obtain long lasting recovery.

There is a 'myth" that abstinence and recovery are less likely. The research shows that over time 60% of people achieve lasting recovery and those who have 5 years of abstinence are most likely to remain abstinent for life. The reason for the 'fallacy' that 'few achieve recovery' is that people in the field tend to see the revolving door patients who are least successful. The same observation was true with asylums where the staff thought schizophrenics were mostly in asylums when in fact the vast majority of those with schizophrenia commonly are living in the community and may only be in hospital a few months of their life time.  Those who recover from alcohol and drugs tend to move out of self help groups and return to community pursuits. Because of their success and the tendency to discretion about past difficulties they aren't considered as part of the stigma that can be heightened by the overt drug abuse of prominent politicians or others in the news media.

People remember the overt aberrant drug addict and forget the less dramatic successful person in recovery especially as those in recovery are now usually part of the mainstream of community. 

Recovery is contagious. As one leading addiction doctor is prone to say "you either run with the turkeys or you run with the cheetahs."

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