A Pinch of Chilli Powder

Just back from Guildford where I finally managed to catch up with Stix. She was the first admission I ever did at the rehab and one of those people I fell in love with almost at first sight. It’s a potentially tricky balancing act to cross that boundary – I was staff and she was a client – but I’m glad I trusted my instincts and kept in contact with her. We’ve been meaning to meet up for ages but every single time something has come in the way, so we were long overdue a catch-up. Stix is coming up to her one year sober and the light that came on so blindingly bright at rehab is still shining brightly – she is happily, joyfully sober and is now sponsoring others via AA, CA and NA. It’s so good to see and makes me so happy.

Once again though, the miserably low success rate of recovery was painfully clear. Out of the people Stix got to know during her stay at rehab – roughly 30 people who were there at the same time – all but TWO have relapsed. That’s a bleak number. If that’s representative at all, the failure rate for rehab (or that particular one at least) is 93%. Would you pay in excess of £10,000 for a month’s treatment on the basis that you have a 7% chance of getting well? That’s way lower than the success rate for using willpower alone, and anyone who knows anything about recovery will tell you that willpower as a tool for overcoming addiction ain’t the way to go. It’s shocking. And someone died. In fact, the guy who passed away (as a result of going on yet another bender, unsurprisingly) was the guy who was meant to be my first admission but who ended up being shipped to A&E instead. Stix came in just a day or two later and became my maiden voyage instead. Out of that particular group, out of all those people, only two of them are still sober and clean. She said a handful keep trying but the majority have just gone back to drinking and using and given up on sobriety entirely.

Hardly groundbreaking news that addicts relapse and addicts die, but fuck me – that really rammed it home for me. Something has to change. Something needs to really fucking CHANGE. It makes me fucking furious. The people who run these places will tell you that they give addicts the best possible shot at recovery when in actual fact you stand greater chance of getting sober not trying any method at ALL.

Gather ’round, people! What can we do about this? Let’s change this NOW. Someone has to. It has to be now and it has to be us. Who’s with me?

I’m recruiting one of my favourite people – I need a nickname for her but can’t come up with one. She’s Scottish, tiny, super smart, all round fucking sound, cute as a button and so lovely I want to pinch her. I’m drawing a blank here. Pinch? Because she’s small and a pinch of something is a small amount, no? Like a pinch of chilli powder though – small but packs a good punch! OK, we have a gangster name – all the nicknames I end up with sound like gangster names, have you noticed? Today we have Stix and Pinch. Fabulous!

So Pinch is a therapist and because I have no skills or qualifications to speak of I need to steal her expertise and kind of ride on her coat tails here. Pinch knows her stuff so I need to pick her clever brain and see if I can railroad her into spearheading a new addiction recovery movement. My cunning plan has officially begun, just texted her to say we need to change the world now. She’s probably rolling her eyes wondering how she can get rid of me.

Ideas? Thoughts? We know of a bunch of ways that work for people, so how do we combine it all somehow or communicate accurately to people like Drunk Me what awaits on the other side?

Today I’m not doing to drink.

32 thoughts on “A Pinch of Chilli Powder

  1. The success rate is better than 85% to five years for those “who throughly follow the path”. The problem is in not following the path and you can’t fault anyone but the client for that.

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      1. … and sadly, nobody could tell you $#!+ until you were ready. Why would you think others will be different if you just communicate it better?

        And therein lies the rub. We change the world one noob at a time. I feel your pain, of course. It SUCKS we have to lose people like that, but until we have something to live for, dying doesn’t look any different because that’s all we know.

        If only I could have seen what freedom was, I’d have sobered up two years earlier.

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      2. Again, I think we’re saying the same thing but I’m still too angry to accept it. You’re right and I sit here reading “why would you think others will be different if you just communicate it better” and get angry yet chuckle too because I know it’s hopeless but don’t want it to be. Me and Stix sat yesterday and agreed how we knew of no way to communicate to Drunk Me and Drunk Her in a way that would have got us sober sooner. You’re right. And you know what you’re talking about. And I’m sitting here feeling even MORE frustrated because I know you’re talking sense and you’re right! And I don’t want this to be right. Please stay with me whilst I bang my head against this wall, I need your input. And when I finally realise/accept that this is how it is, I will graciously take a kind “I told you so!”.

        The last line. That’s the infuriating bit and EXACTLY how I feel. There must be a way. Madness and doing the same thing over and over, that might be me right now thinking there is a way when in fact there isn’t. Apart from what we already know. 😦

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      3. See, that’s the beauty of AA. At this point, I’d just quote the book and say, “sister, we quit fighting, even drunk you, drunk her, or drunk him. If you’re not ready, go out and try some controlled drinking. When you’re done, REALLY done, come back and we’ll have a talk.” You’ll have better luck convincing a rock it is an addict or alcoholic than a real, died in the wool drunk. Because you either want to take their money or make you believe in God, or do some silly steps. Only when we’re at “f*** it” will we say “Okay, if standing on the corner on my head will make this pain stop, I’ll freakin’ do it.”

        Simple as that. But I love your enthusiasm. Try to look at these people as sick friends and maybe that’ll knock the edge off your anger over the situation. How can YOU help your sick friends? Don’t put it “out there” (that’s why you’re angry, by the way. You can only control yourself, you can’t control the industry and that’s frustrating to you. Now here’s where the bomb drops, so take this the right way… PLEASE! Isn’t that a little arrogant of you to be angry at an entire industry for getting something wrong that you can’t figure out either?

        Only two things have, by the way. Figured it out… Organized religion and AA. I’d guess that just adds to the frustration, though.

        Rework the wheel and you’ll have it. You just have to keep it free, otherwise it’ll never stick. That’s one thing AA does that everyone else gets wrong.

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      4. Yep, you’re right. Thanks for putting this into words, a lot of this rings true. Yes, it is arrogant (or at least sounds that way – but there may well be a touch or more of arrogance in me beyond my views). I resent the most the money making aspect of the rehab industry, it is revolting to me. Thanks for taking the time, appreciated as always. Will ponder and take it all on board. Thanks for your patience. 😊

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      5. The money-making is revolting. My favorite recently was that post on recovery by Metallica (how IRONIC!)… that place has it set up so you have to keep paying forever to stay connected.

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      6. The guy who died left his second stay early. The 30-odd are people who all completed treatment. But I think we’re saying the same thing here. My beef is the rehab industry selling the idea as a great one when in fact people seem to be AT LEAST as successful at recovery following a different path. Who knows what tomorrow will be like, but right now I’m sober and very happily so and my path isn’t rehab OR AA. And I meet more and more people just like that. So that’s my frustration.

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      7. AA is popular because it works. If you work it. It’s not for everyone, though. For whatever reason, some people are stuck, they can’t grasp the simplicity of it, or the complex nature pisses them off. You’re just looking for an AA that isn’t AA, and that doesn’t exist because people want to make money off of recovery… so you get programs that require you pay for your recovery but offer no backup plan when the addict/alcoholic is in a bind and the center is closed. There’s nowhere to turn but a bottle or a pipe.

        At that point, Bob’s your uncle.

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    1. “The path” – do you mean the AA route and 12 steps? As in, this, the full this and nothing but this? 🙂 I want to understand how it is that this is a disease that can only ever be dealt with when: A) we hit rock bottom, and B) we follow this exact path. I keep thinking that addiction just cannot be as unique as that and only in our lifetime we had the complete wrong idea about so much else, yet with this we’re getting not very far at all. You may be right (and you probably are – everything you’ve ever told/advised me, suggested and pondered has turned out to be correct) and I’m not posing these questions to argue, it’s just driving me crazy, that’s all and I just find it hard to accept. So just bear with me and I absolutely love/need/want your input so once again thank you. Just saying because I don’t want to piss you off with what might be really frustrating questions for you! 🙂

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      1. That’s a very closed minded way to look at recovery, no, I don’t participate that way. Recovery is an active thing. If one thinks they can just go to a treatment center and magically be cured, they’re doomed before they start. Recovery, however one chooses to participate, must actually be participated in. So, whatever path one chooses, one must actually stay on the path. I don’t know why you keep going back to the notion that because I choose active recovery in AA, I must believe this is the only way – nothing AA teaches suggests this. Nothing. My two best friends on the planet are sober longer than I am and haven’t gone to meetings in decades (and I’ve relayed this story to you more than once).

        All I’m saying with my comment is it’s up to the individual to take responsibility for their recovery. Freedom doesn’t happen by magic… or accident. That is all.

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      2. I think it put it across wrong mixed with getting the wrong end of the stick. I think what I’m getting at (or digging at) and trying to figure out is what the switch is – but here is what I think we’re saying the same thing about, I.e. how we must be willing. So whatever method or way is useless unless we’re willingly on it with all our heart. It’s that switch, which seems to be our individual rock bottoms, and it just seems so bleak if we can only climb up from as far down as we could go. Thanks for clarifying – all fair enough – and I know I’m frustrating, I’m frustrating myself with this…!

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      3. Oh, that’s easy! The switch is being at the end of one’s rope. Once convinced of this reality, we’re often willing to do anything to make the pain stop. The problem is, as I said, in continuing the work after the novelty wears off. This is my bottom: https://fitrecovery.wordpress.com/2012/11/02/the-beginning-of-a-month-long-celebration/

        While there are still options, one is hopeless. I made it because I accepted that I was out of them. Plain and simple. Done. Recovery was it, or it was prison or death.

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  2. Ive heard it takes an average of 5 recovery stays for people to finally stay sober. How many families can afford THAT? Very few. The drop out rate is miserably low. So way to go for your interest and efforts here, Anna!!! Go for it! 💜👍

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    1. That sounds about right. And I keep thinking it’s not necessarily the rehab or AA or Smart or the method in itself. There must be something else that clicks. The rock bottom is hit? Maybe. “Let go and let God” seems fitting for me today but I JUST BLOODY CAN’T. I’m too frustrated. Sorry folks, I know I’m being a pain!! x

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  3. I’m with you! I agree that we need a new approach. It’s baffling in this day and age we have such a low success rate. It is true though, that unless you’re ready to change, you won’t…and that’s a big f’ing obstacle, deadly for many. Sorry so grim! Xx

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  4. These are totally the right questions to be asking. Do I have answers – frick no. All I know as I’ve said several times was I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. At that point, the knowing was right there I’d never go back. I read the books that alcohol was a poison, but more importantly I knew it had become a poison. Keep asking this question, Anna. If your willing to think outside of the box sit and ask your great spirit, guides, or angels for guidance. I know you like Annie Grace..I did her 30 day experiment and that was very helpful. Take bits and pieces from the masters. Include meditation, nutrition, yoga, spirituality..just throwing out ideas😊

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    1. Yes, yes, yes. The sick and tired – true for me too. I just couldn’t hack it any more. And Annie Grace helped cement what I’d come to feel about alcohol, it put into words and confirmed how it didn’t do any of the things that I thought it did/would. We have to keep pondering…. xx

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  5. just out of curiosity…you deal with drug rehab as well?( along with alcohol recovery?) the reason i ask is because we have some issues that have been going on for years in this country regarding the use of medications to help with recovery and insurance not covering that. i am talking about Vivitrol , etc. From what i understand, only the implant is covered sometimes and usually no coverage at all for any narcotic blockers. what is your stance on this?

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    1. I can’t advise I’m afraid. I worked at a rehab for a year (2019) as a support worker and I don’t have enough knowledge or experience to accurately and responsibly advise on any medical issues or interventions. From a personal perspective I applaud whatever it is that gets you staying sober.. xx

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  6. Well I know what worked for me, the support mechanism in plain sight; blogging. It’s free, non judgemental and I know I wouldn’t have succeeded without it. Admittedly I was not on the extreme end of alcohol dependency but had wanted to give up and failed previously. I look at the individuals on these blogs who have been successful and if anyone asked me I’d always recommend blogging and reading others’ blogs as part of their recovery process. Jim x

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  7. I went to outpatient rehab for a month, and started drinking again after 9 months. It wasn’t until I had some public humiliation that I became willing to accept I couldn’t drink. But to keep me from hiding I did everything! Reached out to everyone for help..yoga teachers, Belle, family, friends, life coach, blogging, AA…they were all a part of my team. One by itself was not enough for me. It was something inside of me that summoned the courage, but I needed accountability.
    I’ve read some statistics that says many people quit on their own and are successful.
    I know many people are looking for a better way to help people with addiction! I agree we need something more.
    I am not sure what that is, however!
    Hugs!
    xo
    Wendy

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