Being a functional addict with options or be sober with no options. That is the question.

In culture on December 19, 2014 at 20:25

Having co-workers with alcohol issues for more than 20 years I always found it a challenge working with them securing that they don’t hurt anyone using machines at work, using their car while intoxicated, keep their addiction from customers and so on.

It has paid off. We have functional addicts at work. We have no workers arrested for DUI’s. Sometime we have to talk to them and warn them that they need to adjust more to remain at work.

Of course now and then some approach us and ask to arrange for them to be committed to some place for a period and we let them because they have served the company well despite their problems. Of course now and then we have also forced some to leave because they wouldn’t respect the balance between work and private problems. We are not telling them to go to rehab to keep their jobs because rehab is only an option for those who want to do this. Then of course we have experienced that a person we fire one day shows up the next day lying on their knees begging us to help them to a rehab. What can we do in such cases other than finding a rehab?

But is it voluntary? Would it work?

I often have to second guess myself in that situation. Rehab is a serious business. It is compromising with yourself as a person trying to be something you are not. If you know that stress will causes you relapse perhaps it is better for you to alter other parameters in your life instead of your addiction. Maybe you shouldn’t have this line of work from the very start. Maybe you come from a working class background where the focus in your family has been on “hygge” and gatherings with family and friends rather than career goals.

I saw a story on the Internet last night which made me think. A young woman had a meth addiction. She was jailed while pregnant and gave birth sober. She moved in with her parents. Her child and work became the center of her life. She was supposed to go to rehab after birth but because her family helped her, the system denied her treatment options. However she dealt with her new life as a working single mother fine.

Then a co-worker asked her to falsify papers at her work. She denied participation because she was on probation. She was fired because co-workers would not work with her. She found other work but not something her weakened physics as result of years of addiction could handle. She relapsed due to the stress of losing her work and being unable to be the role model of a mother she wanted to be.

She sobered up again but the drugs in her system got her caught on a dirty test some weeks later. She ended in jail. Now she has got two choices:

  1. Stay in jail. Be released in July 2015 and move on in life alone sleeping in her car along with all the other unemployed while she could rebuild her life. She granted custody of her child to her mother realizing that she could relapse once again.
  2. Go to a kind of Westboro Baptist church rehab far away in the county-side isolated from everyone for at least a month and pay with the treatment with her car. After rehab she can live on the campus of the monastery and work on farms in the local community walking to and from work. Should he be kicked out before July she will go back to jail. If she leaves after July she will have to walk to the nearest town 50 miles away and start her life sleeping in the streets because her car financed the so-called rehab. At the rehab she will allowed visitation rights from her child as soon as she reaches certain levels in the treatment program.

It seems a lose-lose situation. She was never offered out-patient or in-patient treatment after the birth of her child so she relapsed on her on and sobered up on her own. No rehab in the world would be able to guarantee that she would not relapse once again.

The really important question is: Would she go on living as a functional addict with possibilities in life or be a clean without a future?

I am just happy that I don’t have to face this question. I believe that no treatment option should be given as a part of probation. You cannot keep addicts sober using jail as punishment. Kick them to the streets offering them group homes where they can be visited by their families and being fed while they try to decide whether to be sober or not. Take their drivers licenses and take their children if necessary but do not force or stress them into treatment.

It will fail. It is not a question if it is will fail. It is a question about when it will fail. Relapse is a part of addiction if you believe in all or nothing.


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