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Walking through fire. A scary yet highly effective approach to long-term addiction recovery 1

Walking through fire. A scary yet highly effective approach to long-term addiction recovery

Walking through fire. A scary yet highly effective approach to long-term addiction recovery 2

By Estil Wallace

Founder of cornerstone Healing Center

December 27th 2019

A problem we can’t ignore

Addiction to drugs and/or alcohol has been a heartbreaking part of the human experience for as long as we’ve had written history, yet in recent years it has reached staggering new heights and the problem has become undeniable and overwhelming. Right here in the U.S., nearly 400 people are dying from drugs or alcohol every single day. These are our sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, spouses and friends.

It has become clear that in the 50 years since the War on Drugs began under the Nixon administration, that the problem has not gone away in fact, it is stronger than ever. The data clearly shows that treatment is more effective than incarceration. So then, if we intend to treat our family members and friends instead of locking them up, exactly how to we propose to do it?

Many paths to the summit

When it comes to Substance Use Disorder treatment there are lots of passionate opinions and so many approaches to the problem that it can make your head spin at first glance. So, I’ll describe our unique approach to long-term addiction recovery.

Cornerstone offers an immersive and transformative experience. Almost everyone on staff here at Cornerstone is in recovery from addiction and has the practical experience to offer every step of the way. We use a culmination of multiple disciplines; trauma care, cognitive and dialectical behavioral therapy, fitness training, life-skills (occupational therapy), meditation and spirituality. We artfully integrate each component into one single treatment plan depending on the needs of each particular client.

Understanding the problem

Let’s start from the top. I believe the stigma around addiction is changing, I think as a society we’re recognizing more and more that the drug addict or alcoholic is often an otherwise healthy person who has become sick over time. One set of circumstances at a time they’ve caved to life’s pressures until they’ve lost control. You see, substances are how the sick person copes with life.

Look, if substances were the problem you could remove the substances and the problem would simply go away. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. That’s why loved ones are baffled when the suffering person leaves detox, jail or rehab and goes right back to the substances. 

The problem is not so much the substances themselves, but rather the massive disconnection between their actions and their core values, not leading a purpose-driven and meaningful life. Substances dull those feelings of inadequacy, trauma and disconnection. Therefore, the substances have become the solution. A solution that’s ultimately destroying everything around them and will ultimately claim their life.

The death of the old life

When this person finally reaches a breaking point, is willing to get help and comes into contact with us here at Cornerstone we don’t want to waste any time. The window of opportunity is often small. This is when we get them into detox and begin sitting down with them and describing our own journey out of the darkness and into recovery so they can see that they’re not alone and that recovery is possible.

Then we bring them into the group setting and they begin to go through the motions of “normal” healthy living, ie: stable sleep schedule, healthy meals, exercise and they begin to feel better physically. That’s usually when something you might not expect happens, they decide they’ve over-reacted and need to leave treatment, there are things they need to attend to. What they’re doing subconsciously is retreating from the challenges that lie ahead.

Hope, for the first time in a long time

But once they have pushed through the early discomfort they begin to leverage the guidance and support of their therapist, their sponsor, the group of men they’re going through this experience with, they begin to believe that change may be possible, even for them.

One set of circumstances at a time, one relationship at a time they begin to face life’s trauma and challenges both past and present. Each day they survive is another win, another day stronger, another day closer to inward alignment.

Not only are they encouraged by the progress they’re making but they are often pleasantly surprised to find that their peers actually rely upon them for support, even leadership.

The labor pains of rebirth

The farther they go into physical sobriety, the greater their psychological and emotional burden and discomfort becomes, essentially they’re fearing the daunting task of getting in the ring with their demons and facing them. This is when they have finally shown up. Genuinely in pain and honest about it, this is what early recovery looks like. These are, in fact, the labor pains of rebirth.

Walking through the fire

Now, with clinical and social support, they begin to actually face their demons. As they process their trauma and family system with their therapist, as they go through the inventory and amends process with their sponsor, they begin to see that what used to look like an unapproachable mountain range has shrunk into a series of small obstacles, easily overcome with a little guidance and support. 

One situation at a time they find they are becoming, evolving into the person they could be by simply daring to do so. This is when we introduce goal-setting structures and begin creating a tangible plan for reintegration and long-term recovery.

The prodigal son returns

Next, we help them make a successful re-entry into the community with a new chance at life. They don’t just have the tools necessary, they’ve actually been putting them into practice while in our care and now have some practical experience with using them on a daily basis. One of these invaluable learned behaviors is the practice of altruistic giving.

This includes becoming a contributing member of our recovery community in the Cornerstone Alumni program as well as sponsoring men within the 12-step community and leading them through the same life-altering experience they’ve just had. 

Boys come into our program and leave as grown men ready to meet life’s challenges as they are. They walk through the fire and come out the other side changed. Our program is not for everyone, it’s for alcoholics and addicts that are ready to change their lives for good and forever, those who are ready to walk through fire.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction we can help, call us today.