When Midwestern Mama’s son first went to treatment in 2011, she found online news articles about a young man who had attended the same program and had recently published a memoir about his experience. She emailed him and was pleasantly surprised to get a response. In the long years ahead, Midwestern Mama and Chad Hepler stayed in contact – ever grateful for his insights, support and encouragement all from a young man’s perspective. Today, Chad Hepler is a certified addiction counselor serving adolescents and their parents. Read what he has to say about the process of recovery.
Addiction and recovery is a process. A person does not become a rock bottom drug user overnight. It takes time. Just like the process of recovery.
This “process” is best explained by Prochaska & DiClemente’s five stages of change. In this article, I will examine the first two stages, precontemplation and contemplation, and how they relate to the teenage drug user. I will also discuss how parents survive this “process” of recovery.
The precontemplation stage is essentially denial. During this stage, the user does not believe there is a problem.
They are not considering change and generally do not care what you have to say in regards to their substance use.
A large percentage of users fall into this stage even when their life seems to be crumbling around them. This is the reason, insanity, is paired with addiction.
From an outsider’s perspective, it is painfully obvious the drug use is the problem, but the user just keeps on pushing.
There is no logical answer as to why a person continues to use, it’s simply insane. It’s doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. Or as one of my patients said, “It’s doing the same thing over and over, knowing damn well, nothing will change.”
As an adolescent addiction counselor, I am faced everyday with the teenage drug user in the precontemplation stage. My goal is to move them from precontemplation to contemplation.
If I can help the teen reconsider their drug use, then I have succeeded. Nothing will mess up a good buzz more than a mindset of ambivalence.
Like they say in the rooms of AA, there’s nothing worse than a stomach full of booze and a mind full of AA. Sure, I would love to say my goal is long term recovery without a relapse, but quite frankly, that would be insane.
So how do the non-users maintain their sanity, while the drug user goes through this “process?” They work on themselves. They attend a self-help group, such as Alanon, Alateen, Naranon, and Families Anonymous. They get a sponsor, they work the steps, and they love and support their user’s recovery, not their addiction.
Chad Hepler is a Certified Addiction Counselor, working with adolescents for the last five years in a psychiatric hospital setting. He is also the author of two memoirs of his own addiction and recovery, Intervention: Anything But My Own Skin and Beyond Intervention: A Memoir of Addiction and Recovery.