Recovery: Slow it Down
If there was one very significant and meaningful piece of advice that I could give every individual who is entering a treatment program it would be to SLOW DOWN. More so than any other obstacle to full recovery it is an addicts sense of urgency to rush the process that gets in their way. Addiction did not start over night. It did not last just a couple of days or even weeks. Yet, when every addict enters a treatment program the question that is paramount in their mind is “When is this program over?”
The simple truth is that you cannot rush the process. Recent science tells us that it takes a minimum of 90 days to change a behavior. Teaching an old dog new tricks takes time. It also takes a team of talented, committed people in a well structured treatment program. These people are handcuffed if an addict tries to rush the program. Keep in mind that someone (family, loved ones, insurance companies, charities, and the government) is paying a lot of money to get the ball rolling and put an addict in such a program. Yet invariably the addict will try to rush the process. The addict will insist that they are OK and on their way to recovery. But it takes time. Every addict needs to take a breath and slow down. It is the speed at which they want to run through the program that becomes their biggest enemy.
It is completely understandable. Good therapy is uncomfortable. It is difficult to face your demons. It is difficult to see where you have been and struggle to get where you need to be. Success will be enhanced significantly if you slow down. Your brain is not paint color on a wall–it will not change with a simple stoke of the brush. Addiction behavior is the manifestation of complex physiologic, hormonal, endocinolgical, and even anatomical changes within the brain and that process typically took years to take the shape that it has on the first day of treatment. To change that dynamic is one that takes time. In Orthodontics teeth move within hours of placing of the braces yet the braces stay in place for many months to ensure stability of the mouth. That analogy is appropriate for the brain as well. The wheels of motion of change are set in motion in the first couple of weeks but change takes months to become permanent.
Slow down. Take a breath. Recovery is a process that cannot be rushed.