The treatment process for addictions is by no means left to chance. Based on the Minnesota model of treatment, and developed in consultation with Hazelden Clinic (the recognised benchmark in treatment protocols), The Harmony Group programmes are second to none, supported by carefully chosen staff of the highest pedigree.
Each client is assigned a counsellor who will guide and nurture the client through a highly structured programme over 28 days, specifically designed and tailored to achieve best possible outcomes.
Acceptance of an addiction is a great challenge to any and all individuals. If this were not the case, no addiction would have to run the lengthy and damaging course that is typical of someone seeking treatment. Simply put, the individual is helped to acknowledge that he or she cannot effectively and reliably limit or control his or her use of alcohol or drugs, or behavioural disorder. There are several layers to this process:
- Acceptance by the patient that he or she suffers from a progressive, chronic illness characterised by the compulsive use of drugs, alcohol or behaviour (such as gambling, bingeing and purging or compulsive sexual behaviours)
- Acceptance that his or her life has become unmanageable as a result of this
- Acceptance that he or she has lost the ability to effectively control him or herself through willpower alone
- Acceptance that since there is currently no effective way to reliably control his or her substance use / behaviour, the only viable alternative is complete abstinence (in terms of alcohol or drugs), or serious behavioural changes (in terms of other compulsive behaviours).
The term surrender actually describes a very simple and measurable set of behaviours that can be easily observed and assessed. It includes acknowledgement by the patient that there is hope for recovery / sustained sobriety only through admitting the reality of his or her loss of control. The behaviour seen in this phase is a spontaneous and meaningful reaching out beyond oneself and asking for help. Surrender also sees the patient acknowledging the need for faith in some kind of higher power. For many, this is the God of their understanding, for others who are not religious or do not believe in God, the fellowship of AA, NA and other twelve step fellowships is their higher power. An important behavioural change observed at this phase is the patient’s desire to become involved and part of something other than his or her self-centred world. It is a fact that most people recovering from an addiction, or addictions, have become part of a twelve-step fellowship, where they have found meaning, purpose, friendship and fellowship, as well a universally-recognised healthy design for living.
There are three primary cognitive goals during treatment. Patients are first helped to understand the ways in which their thinking and behaviour has been affected by their substance abuse and or compulsive behaviours. This includes rationalising abnormal behaviour and thinking as well as lying to oneself and others. Rarely do addicts, in a sober state of mind, hold with the values they practise during active addiction!
Patients also need to see how their thinking may reflect denial, which contributes to their ongoing substance abuse / compulsive behaviours despite negative consequences. An active alcoholic could well blame the justice system for arresting him or her for public indecency; a sober alcoholic would not!
Patients then need to make the logical connection between negative life consequences and their substance abuse and compulsive behaviour. These consequences include those that are physical, financial, social, professional, legal and spiritual. The connection may be obvious to everyone else, but the thinking that supports the idea of addiction often blinds the patient to the obvious. An alcoholic with liver failure would sooner believe this was the result of some medication, or even genetics, than realise that two bottles of whiskey a day had anything to do with it!
Emotional and Behavioural Objectives
A key element of addiction is the numbing of difficult feeling states, particularly anger, pain and resentments. Within the context of the 12 Step principles, patients are taught how to soberly manage difficult feelings and express them appropriately. This is vital in preventing relapse. A key behaviour in this is in learning to turn to the fellowship of other recovering people and asking for help. Key is attendance at as many meetings as possible in the first year of recovery. Forming solid relationships, including new friends, a sponsor, and addressing familial issues are also important recovery behaviours.
Regardless of belief systems or religious background (or lack thereof) the practical demonstration of what can be defined as spiritual growth refers to a recovering addict’s attitude toward life. The very first spiritual principle that patients encounter is hope. Hope that they too can recover and that life will be better in recovery than it was in active addiction. Belief and trust in a power greater than themselves is also a critical shift away from a life lived on self-will. For some, this is the God of their understanding, for others it is the energy of a recovering community and practising the principles of recovery as held by 12 step fellowships.
The Beginning of a New Life
Adhering to the best practise of the Minnesota model, all patients are guided by our highly skilled counsellors, and receive psychological, spiritual and practical guidance throughout their stay in treatment. Different patients have different needs and the pace is set by the constant evaluation of their progress. Learning to live a life in recovery is a 360 degree turnaround for most patients, and it can be an exciting and rewarding journey. Most addicts would dearly love to change their life, if only they knew how, and if only they could trust that it was possible. The Harmony Group, with its extended continuum of care and services, is unquestionably the most professional and comprehensive treatment available in South Africa today.