There are many types of treatment programs – medically facilitated (like the medicines-based pharmacotherapy I have been developing for almost 30 years), psychotherapy, 12-step programs, faith-based programs, or a combination of these that do help people get sober, with varying degrees of success.
So a woman goes into treatment, and gets clean and sober. Then what? What does she do now?
I have heard this same cry time and time again. More and more women (and men) have told me passionately that this is one of the major reasons for the high recidivism rate following treatment.
I even discuss this in my lectures to medical and graduate students – I often call it the “Lindsey Lohan” effect – not to pick on her, but because many people are familiar with her trips in and out of rehab.
While in treatment, it is relatively easy for her to stay sober. But when she gets out, that is when her problems start. The same thing also happens to many people who successfully complete treatment; they cannot deal with life on the outside sober, so they relapse to doing what they know how to do - and they start using again.
Lindsey Lohan has wealth and people to support her when she gets out of treatment, and she has still had her problems with sobriety. Unfortunately, most people have nowhere to go following treatment, and no one to turn to!
What if the newly sober woman grew up in a meth house? What if her mother or both parents used meth in binges, often neglecting her while she was growing up?
What if she started using meth herself as a young teenage girl and was exposed to repeated meth use and sexual abuse that lasted well into adulthood?
How can she learn how to get and keep a job? Where can she get the required job or social skills? Who will even hire her? Who does she turn to if everyone she knows is either a cop or a criminal or someone still using?
Where does she turn for social rehabilitation after she completes treatment and gets clean? Where can she find a safe place to lay her head while she learns the indispensable social skills that you and I take for granted?
There are so many aspects of our daily lives that are considered “normal” and routine – things that are done by everyone that we know.
For example, you likely went to school or are in school now. Then you found and were able to keep a job. You have somewhere to live with the utilities turned on for your use. You have a car, and pay for the insurance. You have a doctor and dentist you see regularly. You know how to shop for and prepare your meals. You know how to dress appropriately for the things that you do. You know how to use the Internet and library to find useful information. You know how to carry on a conversation with someone that you just met. You know how to live your normal everyday life.
Most of us do these things almost without thinking. They reflect where and how we were raised, the learning and support from our parents, the guidance of teachers, ministers, family and friends. They reflect our own determination based on our sense of self and security.
But when someone becomes totally immersed with using drugs, especially meth – and when that happens at an early age, they never learn these rather simple social skills. They don't know how to write a resume, balance a checkbook, apply for a job, and maybe 100’s of other things that we take for granted, to live in society today. What if they have been out of mainstream society for so long that they no longer remember the simplest of life’s skills?
You know what happens next, whether you want to admit it or not. When they cannot find a safe place to live or get a job or figure out what to do next, they RELAPSE! It’s as simple as that. Then they are using again, often committing crimes against you and me to feed their drug use. And we complain about the high crime rate.
Getting clean is hard work. Staying clean is harder work. They want to do it, but often can’t. We have to ask ourselves why treatment doesn't seem to work. The newly sober woman just falls through the cracks. She has completed treatment and was sent on her way. She may be free of meth, at least temporarily, but if she doesn't learn – or relearn – how to be a member of society, she quickly relapses.
Almost every family has been touched by "drug addiction" in one form or another, and many families have been torn apart by meth.
People who use meth tell me that I would be shocked beyond belief if I knew how many people were actually using meth today. This is a much, much more widespread problem than our society has been willing to admit.
Our goal is to provide an environment where newly sober women have a safe place to live – and where they can also learn the necessary skills to survive and lead a drug-free life.
This will have to be a grassroots effort, with our community coming together, providing money, facilities, and people’s time, effort – and, of course, love – to make our dream a reality.
What will this social rehabilitation look like? What should be considered, and what skills should be taught? How do we go about finding the support and the funding to get our rehabilitation facility started and operational? These are all questions we need to answer and problems we need to solve.
If a family has been touched by meth and has resources that we could use – let’s talk! If someone has a way to help, let me know. It could be knowledge, time, property/facility, or money. There are so many out there who agree that something needs to be done.
It is time to quit pretending that there is not a huge methamphetamine problem in our country – even in our own backyards! It is time to stop turning a blind eye to the problem! It is time to stop thinking that the government is going to fix this. It is time to do something, time for us to do something – NOW!