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The Power of Framing

In therapy, there’s a term we use…Framing. 

 

I actually believe that the term originated, and the way they use it in therapy, is from Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). 

 

Even though a lot of therapists don’t respect NLP, a lot was stolen from it. And one of those notions, I could be wrong about this, is the notion of framing and reframing.

 

What is Framing and Reframing? 

 

Framing and reframing has to do with the interpretive structure of consciousness of what reality is or is not given. 

 

So I’m sitting in this room with the light and the microphone and the camera. Several people here…But that’s not given to me. 

 

That’s actually kind of a complex interpretation of what’s going on, you know. I mean, first of all, I’m inferring that there’s a thing called people, there’s a thing called light, there’s a thing called camera, and there’s a thing called room.

 

I mean, if we try to define all of these things–like what exactly is a room and what’s not a room– does it have to have four walls, only three? Does it have to have a ceiling, or no ceiling? Does it have to be built by man or can it be a natural room…or is it a cave?

 

It’s a lot to consider. 

 

Interpreting Our Reality

 

There’s a certain interpretive structure that goes into how we interface, understand, and cognize our reality, that’s called framing. We frame things in a certain way. The way that we generally think about that in therapeutic terms has to do with what we emphasize in any given experience. 

 

So I can have a very scary experience. What I’m thinking about that experience may be in order to communicate it to somebody else later. How I frame that experience is how I hold it. You know, that was very scary.

 

Let’s say I was on an airplane and there was terrible turbulence. That was very scary and I never want to do that again. You know, that plane could have crashed. 

 

I can frame that completely differently. It’s unbelievable that human beings were able to build these flying machines that take us from one island to another. You know, now and then, there’s turbulence. It’s very scary, but it’s much safer than even driving in a car or possibly riding a bicycle, right? It has to do with how I frame my reality.

 

So I think that the term and the deep understanding of the term is super important. 

 

Feelings Are Choices

 

Rabbi Mordecai Finley, who’s a great teacher of mine, says something very controversial. I don’t think it’s an original thought of his, but he says, “At a deep level, feelings are choices.” 

 

What does that mean? Feelings are the one thing we don’t have a choice over, right?

 

I don’t wake up and choose how I feel. And I think what he’s saying is that we have a deep pre-linguistic, emotional framing structure that we have a say in every day.

 

I’ll say that again because it’s a complicated notion. At a deep level, feelings are choices. We have a deep pre-linguistic–underneath language–framing mechanism that relates to our experiences

 

It’s so deep it relates to the part of us that we would call primitive and emotional. The deep brain. And I actually have a say in how that interpretation happens.

 

Posture and Your Reality

 

Jordan Peterson is a controversial figure. I should probably do a video about his journey with Xanax or, at least, what they’re reporting about it. It makes no sense to me as an expert in that field. 

 

He talks in his book,12 Rules for Life, about making your back straight. On one hand he has kind of a silly piece of advice: ”Okay Grandma, thank you for telling me to sit up straight.”

 

On the other hand, what he’s saying is, how you hold your body changes how you interpret and interface with your reality. It changes how you frame yourself. 

 

Do I think about myself as somebody who’s low confidence and has no backbone? Or is my pushing–my framing–who I am in such a way as to be assertive and to matter in the world? And my posture says a lot about that, right? About how I’m oriented…Framing orientation.

 

And so, that notion, however true it is, is a helpful notion. It’s empowering because it means I have the power in some ways–and at most moments–to frame what’s happening with me.

 

Framing and Grief

 

I’ll give one really deep story about this. I was having lunch with a friend of a friend. He’s an older gentleman and we were just kind of chit-chatting. 

 

As we were chit-chatting, it came up that he had a child that died when she was about 12 years old. He kept talking so I couldn’t say, “Oh, my condolences.” The normal decorum when somebody says that. 

 

He just kind of kept talking. 

 

So when he finally finished talking, I said, “By the way, you know, I wanted to offer, you know, my condolences. That’s just terrible and tragic.” 

 

We were having a deep spiritual conversation, so he kind of pulled me aside and said, “You know, I wouldn’t say this to most people, but I think you’d understand the fact that she passed is not a bad thing. Well, most people, if I say that, they’d think I’m crazy, but I think you get it.” 

 

And he walked me through the experience of her sickness and how she held it and how he held it. He shared what the experience of her actually passing was like. He didn’t see it as bad…he didn’t frame it as bad. 

 

And I don’t know that I could do that. I definitely wouldn’t want to find out. 

 

It struck me at a deep level. For this man, it was kind of like, at some soul level, this man is in touch with something where he’s able to frame a tragedy and hold it in such a powerful and good way that if we all could do…Well, the whole world would be in a better place.

 

So that’s the power of framing…it reaches down in the past turns the therapeutic into the spiritual.

 

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Psilocybin: Magic Mushrooms and Perspective

In the plant medicine world, there are currently a lot of studies and a lot of work happening– also politically to make it legal– about psilocybin. This chemical occurs in what we tend to call magic mushrooms

 

Magic Mushrooms and Religion?

People have been eating magic mushrooms maybe since before religion. Some people even theorize that religion comes out of psychedelic experiences that people had including experiences on mushrooms. Potentially, people ate mushrooms and had spiritual experiences which later were the foundation for religion. 

 

Which, for me, is quite credible because everything is built on people’s experiences, just what kind of experiences were they? Probably vast and varied. 

 

Deeper Spiritual and Reality Experiences

What kind of experiences are people having on magic mushrooms? How can they create something like religion as a possibility or theorize about such a thing? 

 

Well, I’d say people are probably having pretty deep spiritual experiences where they are getting access to parts of themself, reality, or maybe other people’s psyches that they normally don’t have access to. That creates a somewhat reverential stance. 

 

What’s interesting about psilocybin, ayahuasca, or any of these more traditional plant medicines, is that the experience is organized enough that it produces some of what you see in the shamanic cultures. These rituals, ways of being, and sacred parts of a tribal community using psilocybin and psychedelics as possibly a fundamental experience that creates religion. It means that those experiences are organized enough that they produce something like a religion. 

 

Tapping into Transcendence

I don’t just mean people are worshipping “the mushroom”. I mean that they tap into something like the transcendent moral good. 

 

Wow. Could you imagine that you could be walking through the forest, you see this ugly, slimy mushroom, fungus, you eat it and suddenly you have an understanding of the moral good in a way that you didn’t before? 

 

That’s very weird. That’s very strange. How does that occur nowadays? 

 

Psilocybin and Revelations in Our Lives

I don’t think it’s uncommon that somebody might eat psilocybin mushrooms and realize that they’ve been a total schmuck in their relationship for a very long time. They’ve been a total asshole and they’ve been unaware of it. 

 

Why would it be that you would eat a fungus growing out of the ground and then that fungus, when you ingest it, looks at you and tells you, you know, you’ve been a real asshole…and you go, “You know what? It’s the truth.” 

 

I hadn’t really seen it that way for the last 10 years. That’s kind of unbelievable. You have these really mysterious and powerful living plants that when you ingest them give you access to things you just don’t have access to in your everyday life most of the time.

 

I think of the potential in the future of addiction and mental health recovery, because plant medicine gives you access definitely to parts of yourself–possibly to parts of the universe–that we don’t know about. 

 

There’s so much potential and so much power in learning how to navigate those spaces, but then it’s only going to work out if we do it with proper set and setting…And if we’re patient about it. If we have a reverential attitude towards something that may be sacred.

 

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Adapting Treatment During A Pandemic…What’s Next?

It’s been a little over a year since COVID-19 has become a harsh reality changing the course of all our lives.

The pandemic presented inconceivable challenges and altered the way we reach those struggling with substance abuse and addiction.

During this uncertain time, Recovery Integrity adapted and created protocols to ensure the safety of our clients and staff.

We’re entering a time where there is a light at the end of the long, dark tunnel. Restrictions are cautiously being lifted. Vaccines are becoming more widely available. Life as normal may not be within reach…but we are getting closer.

Of course, we can’t let our guard down. And we have to address the concerns, anxieties, and trauma caused by COVID-19.

Let’s face it: Some that had a solid footing in recovery at the beginning of last year may have regressed or suffered emotionally during this difficult time.

Social isolation, loss, lack of support, fear that any interaction may lead to a life-threatening infection…these are very real issues that affect recovery.

What’s the best way to move forward?

Recover Integrity believes this is a two-fold approach: addressing addiction and the trauma caused by COVID-19.

Prior to the pandemic, Recover Integrity offered trauma-focused care. After all, many individuals struggling with addiction also experienced trauma at some point in their lives.

Our knowledge of the effects of trauma on a person’s overall well-being allows us to address the emotional struggles many faced as COVID-19 disrupted our lives.

It’s time to process, regroup, and make efforts to move forward…while cautiously acknowledging the pandemic is still a reality.

We are all still learning to adapt. Recover Integrity is constantly evaluating our treatment model to be a beacon for those suffering from addiction during a pandemic.

Feel free to reach out to discover how we are helping those suffering with addiction during the pandemic.

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What does it mean to be vulnerable?

Being Vulnerable in Recovery

If you come to treatment or you are coming to recovery, one word you will definitely hear is vulnerability. The importance of being vulnerable in the therapeutic relationship–particularly in treatment–is something you might hear from a spouse as well. 

 

On the one hand, I think it is a word a lot of people have heard–definitely in California. On the other hand, it is a word that is often misunderstood. I think the way people automatically take the idea of being more vulnerable is allowing people to see and feel a certain domain of my emotional life, allowing people to see my sensitivity, allowing people to see my compassion, allowing people to see my sadness. It is what we think about when we hear the word vulnerability.

 

What is Vulnerability?

One definition I like that a friend of mine–Mordecai Finley–uses is: vulnerability actually is not about letting people see your softer emotions, it is allowing yourself to affect and be affected by other people. 

 

Vulnerability is on some level a certain amount of emotional openness that is not appropriate for every area of your life. For instance, when I am walking into Wells Fargo going cash a check, there is just no need for me to be vulnerable. 

 

Why is it Important to be Vulnerable?

 

In my home life with my wife, with my children, in a therapeutic process, in a transformational process, in an intimate moment with a friend or lover–in those moments being able to allow what is going on with that person to affect me. Often we will call that empathy, and also knowing that I am affecting another person.

 

That interpersonal exchange, that is the essence of what vulnerability is about. I think it is important–not just for a recovery process–but I do not think you can have a healthy life or healthy meaningful relationships without vulnerability. 

 

 

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Transparency in Treatment: What Does it Mean?

When you are entering into recovery there are a few terms or words, ideas that you will hear over and over again. And they are outlining the contours of the space we are inhabiting when we are working on ourselves to transform–when we are engaging in recovery, when we are looking at optimal well-being. 

 

Transparency in Treatment

In treatment in particular, one of the terms that they will use is “transparency”. And I will talk about the value of therapeutic transparency. What they mean when they say that is being able to talk about what is happening internally. 

 

First of all–this piece is really crucial–be clear. Understand what is happening inside of yourself. When you understand what is happening inside of yourself and being able to articulate it out loud so that you can be supportable or get the kind of support you need. 

 

Transparency as a Metaphor

They use transparency, obviously, as a metaphor. Meaning make yourself see through, so that I can understand what is going on, so I can come in and help you. 

 

I mean, on the one hand, that is an essential and completely valuable way of approaching transformation especially with outside support. On the other hand, you cannot take it completely literally, because we all actually have a right to privacy. 

 

What does Transparency Really Mean?

Really what we mean when we say “be transparent”, is share about the important therapeutic processes and things I need to know, the information that I need to help you. But those things that are private, that you are not comfortable sharing, or that maybe do not fit in this domain that you are working on, you can keep those to yourself.

 

 

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Medication Assisted Treatment

Medication assisted treatment (including Suboxone and vivitrol)

 

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is using pharmaceutical medications, prescribed medications to help treat active addiction. 

 

It’s different than just the psychiatric medication that you use to treat underlying conditions of depression and anxiety. MAT treatment is a specific classification of drugs that are used to affect the addiction directly. And so there are agonists and antagonists drugs that provide an effect similar to the drug you were using, but allow you to be more functional and reduce the harm around the habit. You don’t break the habit you use something that’s like a derivative of that substance that would be like subtext for opiates or methadone. 

 

It’s a similar molecular structure and has similar effects but you can manage it better and you don’t deal with all of the negative repercussions or most of the negative repercussions of using heroin. 

 

Then there are the blockers that stop the effect or deter people from using certain substances and abuse of a trial. That’s that classes of drugs. And basically, that’s it’s come into treatment in recovery very strong.

 

It started with methadone a few decades ago, and then Suboxone a couple decades ago has become very popular. 

 

And it’s understandable. Basically, we’ve been in the midst of a pretty serious opiate epidemic and people are dying. You have city officials, county officials, government officials, parents, loved ones and society as a whole having a conversation about what we do about this. 

 

There are lots of research studies that show that people have a better chance of achieving recovery if they use medication-assisted treatment. 

 

Those studies are complex and I want to get too into that. They’re complicated questions to ask about those studies and their different opinions. It’s not univocal, and everybody has the same opinion. But I want to look at it in general. So what’s going on here? How do we think about this? 

 

You deal with different perspectives on MAT.

 

So if I’m a government official, and there are thousands of people dying in my district, or in my state, or in my city. I’m thinking, “How do I stop people from dying?” I’m gonna take 100 million dollars, and I’m going to put it into what statistically is the most beneficial thing, medication-assisted treatment, people have to stop dying. And it’s really all the government can do.

 

The government can’t assign an individual therapist, a psychiatrist, long term treatment, isolate people on an island, the government doesn’t have the ability to do nuanced individualized care. 

 

For each and every person who suffers from addiction, the government can’t assign treatment to even 5% of the people who need it. 

 

So I think, how do we stop an epidemic?  On that level, it makes perfect sense and I get it. On the individual level, it’s much more complex. I’ll give an easy example. If somebody is a poly substance abuser, let’s say somebody is 23 years old, they use and this is not uncommon. opiates or methamphetamine or cocaine or alcohol or marijuana. 

 

That’s a lot of young people, they use all kinds of stuff, whatever they get their hands on. They also lack discipline, and they lack a lot of structure and maturity. So they actually don’t know how to do basic things like make their bed. That’s something like 60% of the population and people in treatment right now. They don’t know how to live well. 

One of the things I’ve concerned about with Suboxone is the difficulty in getting off of Suboxone.

 

If you go look up, get off of Suboxone and go read the personal forums. You will see how incredibly hard it is. It’s kind of scary. It takes about 45 days, let’s say you’ve been on Suboxone and you started at a 12-milligram dosage, which is normal. And you’ve gotten all the way down to one milligram after three years. 

 

Then you decide, this is getting in the way of my growth, my psychological well being, and I don’t want to be dependent on this anymore. It’s been years. I’ve seen people want to get off one milligram of Suboxone, that it was a 45-day taper meaning take a little tiny bit just less than one milligram, little less over 45 days, and then another month without the substance to get through we call the acute and then sub-acute detox phases. 

 

Then you’re no longer having the physiological symptoms, but you’ve got months and sometimes even a year to deal with the underlying issues and depression that comes up after having been on this substance for so long. 

 

I’m really concerned about putting thousands or hundreds of thousands or millions of people on Suboxone medication over long periods of time. 

 

What that looks like if there are negative psychological effects down the road. I don’t think we know. Some experts say to never take people off Suboxone. Once they’re on for two or three years. You leave them on it forever. But there’s nobody that’s been on Suboxone for 50 years. It hasn’t been around that long. We don’t know what that means and what that looks like. We still use Suboxone individually. 

 

It’s up to the treatment providers to figure out how to effectively administer Suboxone in smart ways.

 

Then to compile that data and share it with the rest of the community.  

 

Vivitrol is another option. 

 

I’m a huge fan of Vivitrol, Vivitrol is a blocker, and what Vivitrol does is two things, it stops you from being able to get high immediately from opiates. You can do it in an injectable form, which is a little frightening, but it lasts a month. 

 

On the one hand, it physically stops you from being able to do your substance of choice. On the other hand, it’s psychologically really helpful if I’m obsessive, but I know I can’t get high. And I’m willing to get into recovery, it’s a great message to send to myself. You could do Vivitrol with very little side effects for a year and a half, or six months.

 

Even with Vivitrol, we don’t know the long term psychological effects.

 

It’s been around 20 years, but they’re not great research and study on this stuff. And everybody’s very different with how they respond to the medication. I’m in favor, in general, of anything that helps people recover and get better, and of course, in favor of people not dying. But we also have to weigh these different claims. And figure out how we use medications in a way that’s effective for individual situations. That’s not an easy task. It’s going to be everybody working together and having conversations like this about medication-assisted treatment.

 

 

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The Need to Control and Addiction

One of the common things that I come across with people that are trying to recover. So I sort of look at more universal elements that mean the thing about addiction, is it’s not really appropriate, it’s not accurate. To say… oh addicts do this, addicts do that. Because there’s a huge amount of personality, and… diversity, in the addicted population. Right? I mean, people– people are not the same, at all. 

 

One of the things you want to understand is what are the characteristics, that you do seem to cross boundaries.

 

you can say, okay, those– these would definitely want to get to, and I’ve talked about in another piece, around people-pleasing which I see you know, something like 75%, of people over accommodated people-please. And they don’t have healthy boundaries and they don’t know how to assert themselves, to create a sense of self in their lives. [/vc_column_text]

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The other thing I see is issues around control.

 

 Human beings in general, addicts in particular, are people suffering from addiction, in particular, tend to be control freaks. And there are lots of ways that– that manifests.

Somebody who’s a control freak isn’t necessarily an overt control freak. 

 

Like if I look at myself, and I say, what are the ways that I defended against the world and attempted to predict and control outcomes so that I could feel safe? I was– I was never overtly controlling. As you can imagine, I did it with words… and rationale. Right, if you hear me speak… my biggest defense mechanism, the way to keep people away from me, was to understand what was happening around me, try to be predictive and to use a language, as a barrier.

I could hypnotize people with my speech, that was one of the ways that I maintain control. 

 

It’s why for me, it took me a long time to figure out how to do individual therapy, talk therapy because I’m good with words. And so I can… talk and talk and talk and talk and I’m not necess– you know, once I had worked on a lot of the shame, I can even talk about the issues but it wasn’t having a transformative impact.

The talk therapy, group therapy was really good for me. 

 

Group therapy I had so many eyes on me, that I couldn’t control… each person, because I got some you’re looking at me over here, and over here and this and it was too much. And so it made me more vulnerable, which is what I’m trying to do and try to let go of control.

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Boundaries, Assertiveness, and the Right to Say “NO”

 

In Recovery you need to have boundaries, assertiveness, and use your right to say “NO”

 

Usually, people don’t want to be in a relationship because they don’t want to be with that person anymore. The question that the party asks that is being broken up with is usually, Why? But they don’t mean it. Because nine times out of 10 there’s only one answer because I don’t want to be with you anymore. 

 

 

Human beings are naturally kind of narcissistic. 

 

So somebody breaks up with me, and I love them, and they don’t love me that I don’t understand. But I do understand because there are people who have loved me who I didn’t love in the same way. So I get that, right? We have all of these complicated interactions that require a lot of clarity, about what my rights are. And when I do that, it’s sort of like cleaning my room. 

 

 

People that can’t handle boundaries, are going to leave your life relatively quickly. 

 

You’re going to attract people that have good boundaries, and so, your whole life system changes real quickly when you begin to do that. It’s hard work and it’s uncomfortable.

I usually start back when people smoke before they vape I used to start with people with cigarettes because there’s a whole game of cigarettes and everybody smokes. And a lot of them don’t have any money. So ever got the cigarettes, it’s like, you know? if it’s not Newport’s. Now, they’ll come up to you and be like, “Oh man, can I bump a cigarette.” you know, and it’s like, eventually, like, Oh, my God, I’m giving away all my cigarettes, you know, what do I do? So you start making excuses. You know, so people come down and say, “Look, I get a cigarette.” and you say, “It was my last one.” And that’s the common responsible distributed rehab. 

 

 

If you don’t want to, you don’t want just say no, right? 

 

You say, “Oh, it’s my last one. I left the box in my room.” you know, I’m not going to go up to get it, right. One of the things that I have people practice with cigarettes and things like this are plenty of examples, is say no without qualification. And if they keep harassing you about it, ask them if, if you have round heel the right to say no. 

 

 

If you want to learn how to be a little more authentic and assertive, be honest with people.

 

If somebody wants something from you, and you don’t want to give it to them, and you can’t justify giving it to them, except for that you feel bad. That’s not a good reason to give somebody something most of the time, you know unless it’s saving their life or they’re hungry or something like this. 

 

 

So basically, it’s training people how to be authentic

 

I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to hang out with you. And training people how to say that. No, I’m not going to give you a cigarette. Why is your last one? No, it’s not my last one. So why aren’t you giving me a cigarette? Well, hang on before we go down this road of why I’m not giving you a cigarette. Can we agree, that I have the right to say no to you about it? If they say yes, that’s the end of the conversation, you say Oh, great, then we don’t need to discuss this other thing because you just get that I have the right to say no. If they say no, my direction will be just Walk away. If somebody doesn’t think you have the right to say no in a relationship, I would just walk away 

 

 

A great part of recovery is when you start drawing those boundaries and being respectfully assertive in your life, and seeing what it does for your life.

 

A little territorial about how much of yourself your going to give, you suddenly start to get clear about who you are when you stop and start then you begin to have a sense of self, then you begin to have a moral code you made to feel good about yourself and you attract people around kind of people you want to hang out with, that also know how to say yes or no and appropriate wise. Next thing you know you got a different life.

 

 

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The Role of People-Pleasing and Codependency in Addiction 

The Role of People-Pleasing and Codependency in Addiction 

 

When you’re working with people that are in early recovery, they suffer from the same kind of orientations and disorders that exist in the culture at large, just usually in a more extreme way. 

 

Over accommodation or people-pleasing

So one of the things that come across a lot is what we call over accommodation or people-pleasing, and it means sort of overextending the boundaries of myself in a way that causes me a deficit for the sake of the other, you know, psychologically call that kind of co-dependence, it’s on that spectrum. And it’s a really big deal.

 

 “A lot of people that you find coming into recovery have felt that they’ve been living for the world and they don’t really get theirs. And so there’s becomes using drug and alcohol.” 

 

Straightening out what your boundaries are 

You know, the metaphor for me is like, okay, I do everything I’m supposed to do. I mean, the world asks of me during the day and at night, I hide in the closet and drink vodka and smoke meth, you know, or whatever it is, that’s for me, the rest of its for the world because the world’s been demanding on me since I was born. You can think about that dynamic. And so one of the things that needs to happen in treatment is you have to straighten that out.  

 

You have to help people become more assertive. 

Assertive is a tricky word. I don’t mean asserting your will on others. But I mean, being clear about what your boundaries are, and being clear about how to draw those boundaries in a way that’s effective in your life. So if you’ve been people-pleasing for a long time, you have to get clear about how to assert boundaries. And you have to be clear about what your rights are and asserting those boundaries. So where people are confused, is they’re confused about where their rights stop and start in the interpersonal reactions. I’ll give interactions. 

 

When I was working in treatment

I remember I walked into a lobby, and there was a woman who I liked quite a bit, who was working there. And she said, “Hey, I sent you a Facebook friend request. Did you get it?” And I said, “Yeah, I got it. I saw that friend request.” And she said, “Well, are you going to friend me?” And I said, “No, I’m not going to accept your friend request.” And she gives me this look like you know, she’s offended. And she says, “Why not?” And I said, “Well, I don’t, you know, I don’t want to.” And she said, “Well, my roommate, who you know, she sent you a Facebook friend request, and you accepted that friend request.” And I said, “Yes, I did.” And what did she say? She said, “Why didn’t you accept my Facebook request?”

 

And you should know this a teaching from my mentor. When somebody says “why” to you and interpersonal reaction. They don’t really mean it. They don’t want to understand it. It’s really a complaint. Right? And so you go, is that a question or a complaint that “why”. I need to clarify that. But in that circumstance, I said, “Can I ask you a question?” She said, “Yeah.” And I said, “Do I have the right to decide who my Facebook friends are?” She said, “Yes.” I said, “Okay, good. We’re clear.” 

 

Let me ask you another question. “Were you ever married?” She said, “Yes”. I said “Did you have a wedding?” She said “Yes.” I said, “Did you invite some people to your wedding?” She said, “Yes.” I said, “Were there other people you didn’t invite?” “So the other people I didn’t invite?”. “And did you ever have somebody who didn’t invite to your wedding come up to you after the wedding?” And say, “Why didn’t you invite me to your wedding?” And she said, “In fact, I did.” And I said “What did that feel like?” She said, “It didn’t feel good.” I said, “Great. Now you understand this interaction. Right?”

 

And now I’m being a little bit you know, humorous or whatever. But it’s an example of how we get confused in our boundaries of what we’re obligated to do. Where do my obligations stop and start? If I’m in a relationship with somebody, and I don’t want to be with them anymore, which is usually why people break up out of relationships, right? 

 

Usually people don’t want to be in a relationship because they don’t want to be with that person anymore. 

The question that the party asks that is being broken up with is usually “why”, but they don’t mean it. Because nine times out of ten there’s only one answer, “Because I don’t want to be with you anymore.” Obviously, on the other end, that’s hard for you to understand because human beings are naturally kind of narcissistic. And so somebody breaks up with me and I love them and they don’t love me that I don’t understand. But I do understand because there are people who have loved me who I didn’t love in the same way.

 

 

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The Moral Aspects of Treatment

Remove the Moral Aspects of Addiction Treatment?

 

I talk a lot about the moral aspects of treatment and I am very resistant to removing morality from the conversation about addiction and recovery. I understand why people want to do that. It’s to bring down the stigma to address the confusion around the free will issues, for it to be covered by insurance, I agree with all that. I agree with the reasons. My hesitation is that there is a huge moral component to addiction and recovery, and let’s talk about what that looks like in recovery.

 

In recovery, the moments where we gain the most growth are the same moments where we gain the most growth in life.

 

One of the most pivotal moments of growth in my life, there are moments when I’m in a moral conflict and I’m not sure what to do. What is the right thing to do in this moment? If I’m in a marriage and I don’t know if this marriage is working and I have kids and I’m trying to figure out– I’m- some of them in this world conflict, what is the right thing for me to do? If I’m tempted to go into a career largely for money, but it’s not my passion, I’m in a moral conflict what is the right thing for me to do.

 

The most serious conflicts in our life are these moral conflicts with competing claims on each end.

 

The reason why I’m hesitant to remove that from the conversation is, it is the moral conflicts that induce inhuman beings the most important parts of ourselves. In order for me to wrestle with a moral conflict, I have to draw on all of these different parts of who I am and my personality. Right?

 

So a common conflict and treatment that happens is, my roommate snuck out and got drunk and I know. My roommate comes back and says, “Don’t tell anybody,” and suddenly there’s a couple of things happening.

 

One, I am asked to keep a secret. And in general, secrets, those kinds of secrets are not the healthiest things to keep inside of us.

 

Number two, I’m in this interesting quandary around loyalty to my friend, but on the other end I’m in an interesting quandary about being honest with the people that are helping me: counselors, therapists, the community at large and treatments. I have these competing claims. I also have me. I don’t want to be walking around with lies in myself. I don’t want my friend to get in trouble, which is a normal thing, but I don’t wanna be dishonest, and suddenly I’m in the midst of a moral conflict.

 

What somebody does in a predicament can be the make or break moment in somebody’s treatment experience.

 

When somebody can say, “Hey, you put me in a really bad position by asking me to keep your secret because you act it out and I’m not willing to co-sign that with you, and it wasn’t okay, and you need to go work this out because you’ve put me in a bad situation. You’ve put you in a bad situation. You’re an alcoholic who allegedly is here to get sober. I get that you don’t do this thing perfectly but you need to straighten this out,” right? That’s a high level response. That’s not the government’s fault, but imagine if somebody is used to cosigning everybody’s everything all the time in life, they’ve engaged in a program of recovery. They strike them, they built what we call a moral core, some center about what the right thing to do is. They’re challenged, they’re in the middle. They’re stuck there in the hallway. They don’t know whether to go left, whether to go right. Right? Suddenly it’s like, okay, and they have that conversation. You know what that does for me. That’s everything. That’s the turning point for people’s recovery.

 

The moment when you have the difficult conversation with your parents or your loved one that you’ve never had, we build that moral core.

 

Begin to put yourself in the equation. That’s where we get the most growth. Not only do we get that growth morally, we also get it psychologically. We are moral psychological beings that come hand-in-hand. Right? To be– if you meet somebody who’s evil, which is a moral term whether you believe in evil or not, but behaves in evil ways depending on their level of narcissism and the way in which they act out, you would have a difficult time saying, “Well, that person is mentally healthy. They’re just evil.” Right? In general, those things come together. Right?

 

So, you know, to use the extreme example. Adolf Hitler was not only evil. There’s such a thing exists. He was also mentally ill and a methamphetamine addict. Those things come together. So our moral behavior in our psychological wellness, they’re integrated with each other. We have to understand that. So we cannot remove morality from the equation of recovery addiction. We have to figure out how we incorporate that in the conversation about well-being, psychological well-being, spiritual well-being, etc.

 

 

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