Head of Treatment-Twin Rivers Rehab
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David +27(0)828 633 159
Richard +27(0)722 789 193
Tom +44(0)747 103 6484
Coronavirus – Head of Treatment Comments!
I think we can all agree that these are indeed unique times we are living in. Never before have we experienced a global lockdown like this. We have had two world wars and survived the Spanish flu. In this modern era we read about rumours of wars and terrible disasters, but we always observe it from a distance. We are sympathetic to the suffering of others for a moment and then change the channel and our focus becomes something else and a week later we suddenly think to ourselves… Oh yes, I wonder what is happening there? And we wish them well and go on with our busy lives – not wanting to get too involved with the problems of others.
For me, I am as guilty as the next person when it comes to the removed suffering of others who are not within my immediate context or sphere of influence. After all, how can we be? It is impossible to be everywhere at once and attend to the needs of every individual on the planet. Omnipotence is beyond any of us. So, what can we do? During this time of lockdown I have had feelings of powerlessness, frustration, anxiety, and depression. Moments of hope and reassurance, patience and perseverance. But through it all, I have a sense that this is a global wake up call. A time to regroup and to reflect upon our own lives and what is truly important.
In the world of addiction I remind myself to not be b.u.s.y, or as I like to call it Being Under Satan’s Yoke. (So distracted by what we think is important, rather than what is truly so). Addiction thrives in chaos, and yet so often we willingly put ourselves in those powerless positions only to reap the devastating consequences that follow. In my experience as a counsellor, I find that to your average man (mankind), the concept of mental illness and addiction is seen as personal weakness and that it only involves the individual addict. Phases and definitions like, ‘Its your problem, You made the choice, You are to blame, You are the addict, or Why can’t you just stop? are a part of the language used to describe a person struggling with addiction.
I find these type of phases to be highlighting a deeper, more desperate dynamic. We are all too busy. We all know it and we are all guilty of not doing anything about it. Addict or no addict, busyness if a symptom of the chaotic world we have helped to create. We all strive for success and feel powerful when we do succeed, but only to judge those who cannot keep up with the impossible race.
Years ago, I remembered Michael Mol say in his sermon at Common ground Church, ‘Even if you win the rat race, you are still a rat’. I smiled at that statement because it is so true. We are all in the same boat together trying to survive. We all have to meet our budgets and fight to survive. The difference is based on our definition of success. I ran the rat race and nearly killed myself trying to achieve success, rather than spend quality time with my family and come to terms with my 25 year long silent addiction. All it did was burn me out and fuel my addiction in an attempt to escape the chaos the busyness brought. The busier I got, the more praise I received from others because of my success, and yet I was silently dying inside – raging in the arena of success in a fight that demanded all of my time and energy, left with nothing by the end of the day. All I thought about was survival. I was empty. I condemned myself for not being able to succeed. We all feel powerful when we succeed. We seldom have compassion for those who we can see are failing.
Why am I telling you this?…. Because we are all in the same boat, trying to convince ourselves that we are not. The joke is on us. All it leads to is chaos and the need for control. The more chaotic it becomes, the more control we need in order to feel safe. Safe to escape into fantasy at will and not deal with the reality of our lives. Only to return and become completely overwhelmed once again with the desire to want to escape even more. That’s addiction. The substance abuse and other stereotype definitions we pride ourselves with is only the tip of the iceberg. The real problem is us. Addicts are not outcasts, they are part of a dysfunctional system, and like it or not we are all in it together.
My hope as an addiction counsellor is that as a result of the coronavirus pandemic we will all realize that we are all in it together, and we need to help those who are fighting a battle they are not winning.
Richard Saunders-Head of Treatment
🇿🇦 David +27(0)828 633 159
🇿🇦 Richard +27(0)722 789 193
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David is the Clinical and Development Director of Twin Rivers Rehab in South Africa and a UK Accredited Addictions Therapist with the Federation of Drug and Alcohol Professionals UK. Articles/Blogs are written with the assistance of researchers and other specialists in the field of addiction and the recovery process