If you hang around treatment centers for any length of time, you will eventually hear someone say (or say yourself) something on the order of “I already know this stuff. Why should I stay here?”
This makes perfect sense, from the standpoint of someone in very early recovery. In treatment, there are things that get repeated over and over. That’s because we learn by repetition. If we were studying for a part in a play, we would think nothing of going over our lines and actions repeatedly. In recovery, we’re trying to replace old ways of instinctive thinking with new ones. Repetition helps, but it can be the “same ol’ same ol’” after a while.
We know, however, that addicts often need a second or third trip through treatment before they actually learn what they need to know to change old behavior and stay clean and sober. It takes some people that long to absorb some recovery principles, and apply the insight they bring to the changes they need to make.
Sometimes the things that we are asked to think about in therapy are painful, or involve feelings that we’ve suppressed so long that we can’t even identify them when asked. The old “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ve heard it all before” reaction is often a form of denial to help protect us from the pain of confronting issues that may be hampering our recovery.
We need to pay attention to the details, and grab hold of new ideas when we can. No one, not even an old-timer, knows all there is to know about recovery. The more we know about how our own heads work, the easier it is for us to know when they’re leading us in the wrong direction. If we listen to other clients when they share, pay attention to outside speakers, and instead of criticizing actually consider how their experiences and solutions might apply to our own situation, we can remain not only interested, but actually engaged in our own treatment.
The same is true of new ideas and therapies that may be suggested by staff. We need to give those things a fair chance. If we had cancer and the doctor said she thought we needed to try a new therapy, we’d at least give it a long, hard look. Why shortchange ourselves when it comes to getting clean and sober? After all, addiction is a deadly disease too, if left unchecked.
If we keep an open mind, treatment can not only be tolerable, it can be fascinating as we learn more about who we are, and about how to become the people we would like to be.