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An Integrated Model Approach To Recovery and Addiction

May 2, 2013

What the hell does that mean?  Integrated means a combination of therapies, programs, and treatments.  It is just a fancy way of taking377766_10151494170381427_134690065_n a little bit from several different approaches to recovery.  I prefer to use a Buddhist based approach to my lifestyle and follow Buddhism as a philosophy of life.  I choose to pray to and believe in a Christian God as my higher power.  I also use the 12-steps and Narcotics Anonymous as a source of structure and support.  It is something tangible that I can follow and apply to my life in a simple form to treat my addiction disease.

Medically, my mind, hormones and receptors have been severely damaged by my drug use.  I also have severe back and neck problems that cause chronic pain.  I have several herniated discs in my neck and back, seven actually and I also have nerve damage, scoliosis and arthritis at the ripe old age of 36.  I absolutely refuse to let my pain and physical disabilities cause me to give up and throw in the towel.  My drug use has disturbed my natural ability to fight pain with hormones my body is supposed to produce and connect with receptors to control pain.  It can take up to 18 months for the brain to begin to return to normal after you stop taking opiates.  I know I cannot take prescription opiates without abusing them.  Therefore I am a patient at the Methadone Maintenance program.  Methadone severe two purposes for me, first it treats my disease of addiction and second it treats my pain.  This is considered a crutch or replacement therapy in general is frowned upon in the 12-step groups.  They believe it is replacing the drug with another drug.  Which to an extent is true.  I tried to get off of methadone last year, weened myself off and ended up relapsing.  Methadone works for me.  I stay at 80 milligrams  which is a blocking dose and I have not increased my dose and do not intend to.  I also do not put a time frame on how long will I be on methadone.  People always ask me that question and I do not have an answer.  I did have an answer three years ago.  I said I would only be on methadone for two years then switch to suboxone and then cold turkey.  This obviously did not work because I relapsed soon after I began suboxone.  Today I do not put a time frame on my treatment, I may be a lifer, I do not know.  What I do know is it works.  I have maintained sobriety since a week and a half after I started back on the methadone program September 27, 2012.

I know it sounds complex and a royal pain in the butt.  Addiction, in its many forms,  is just that, complex and a royal pain in the butt.  It is however, treatable, not curable but treatable.  The complexity of the disease of addiction is because we are complex creatures.  There is no one right way for everyone.  What works for me may not work for you.  What I do know is expanding your treatment of addiction is important.  The reality is the 12-step approach works but there are not very many people out there with double digit years of clean time who are truly free and happy.  Some are sicker then the new comer. I cannot remember the last time I was in a 12-step meeting that had more people with double digit clean time then newcomers with less then a year.  Those that have double digit years and our truly happy and have found a new way to live are the ones who expanded their treatment and spiritual search outside of the rooms.  They went spiritually, medically and therapeutically outside of the 12-step approach to seek help for their addiction.  They teach us in the 12-step programs that yo must go the extra mile in recovery as you did in active addiction   How far would you go and the things you would do for a fix?  It is the same in recovery.  I double dip into different approaches and philosophies to experience and get a first hand perspective on whether or not it works for me.

Each person has their own set of unique circumstances, needs, and priorities.  The idea that one program can treat all of the demons is fairly egotistical I think.  For some it is enough and they continue into double digit years of sobriety with a true passion for life.  They are far and few in between though.

My philosophy on addiction treatment sounds complicated but it really is not.  I learned it in Narcotics Anonymous, use what works and leave the rest.  I feel that this can be applied to all areas of my life and can be broken down into a few areas, maybe more or less for other people.  For me, I need different things from different programs, philosophies, and treatment therapies.

1. Spiritual – Buddhism and a Christian God

2. Medical – Methadone

3. Therapeutic – Trauma therapy and Schema Focused Therapy

4. Treatment Program – the 12-steps and methadone

5. Support and Structure – NA, Church, Methadone Maintenance, family and friends

That is what an integrated approach to Recovery is.  We are complex creatures with complex problems.  We need complex treatment.  I suggest you write down categories in your life that have voids and needs.  Then next to those write down some ideas of places where you can fill those needs.  It is different for everyone, that is the problem with addiction treatment but it is also the beauty of it, everyone brings different things to the table which creates a beautiful diverse group of people coming together to help each other on their personal journey through recovery.


From → My Story, Recovery

  1. Thank you. This is really honest and inspiring. I am on a recovery journey as well.


  2. Wonderful post – loved it in it’s honesty, it’s simplicity (believe it or not, I didn’t find it complex in terms of what you’re getting at) and the fact that you found something that works for YOU. I am in AA, and have other spiritual practices that I have slowly added into my recovery “package”, and so that is my own journey and path. I know guys who were in AA and stepped away and have their own recipe for recovery. Many people I know integrate, as you have, with great success. So while I am in 12-step, I do see how other people have other ways of working what works for them. Listen, I didn’t know what was best for me for 40 years, so who am I to tell anyone what is best for them? ha ha. So fantastic work here – loved what you said and love even more that it’s working for you. It will adapt and change as you adapt and change.



    • Thank you Paul, I’m happy it made sense and you know of others that seek the same things. I feel the same way, I share what works for me and what did not work because I went overboard and relapsed. I feel that it stripped me of everything for a reason, now I have a stronger foundation that I would not have had if not for the relapse. I have lost most of my family, they will not speak to me but it’s ok. This is my path, my journey, I am learning everyday how to deal with life and enjoy it’s beauty.


  3. You are an inspiration to those who share your journey. Great post!


    • Thanks so much, I just speak up and share. If that’s inspiring to others that is amazing because this is therapy to me. I love to write and to write about what I know. If people can identify and it helps them in any way that’s just a very groovy bonus!


  4. helnbak permalink

    Do you mind me asking Amy? Do you feel ok on methadone, does it make you feel depressed or you can feel ok on it? I really don’t know how it’s affecting me as I feel really low but I’m not sure if that’s because of what’s going on, the fact that I’m not using heroin, or because I’m using methadone. Just out of interest, as I don’t know anyone else who is just using methadone and sticking to it.


    • I strongly believe that the depression you are suffering is because you are a newcomer I’m assuming. I have been there. The methadone will not cause you to feel low, in fact it is the opposite. You feel better because you are not suffering. Any cravings you are having for heroin should be discussed with your counselor because you may need an increase. Increases are not based on body mass and weight, it is based on you metabolizing rate. 80-120mgs is a blocking dose for pretty much everyone. I have been on 80 mgs since September and my weight has not change, 137lbs, well it hasn’t changed since I got to 137 about 6-8 weeks after I got clean. I used to be on 140mgs, there is no reason for that unless you’ve been in the program for 20+ years. This is just my opinion though. I do however know that you’re depression is from isolation, bordem, and getting used to living clean. Change takes time. I strongly suggest you force yourself to get to know other recovering addicts with years of clean time to help you, go to meetings and self help groups. Practice calling people. Take one person you liked at a meeting and maybe talked to for a few minutes after the meeting and call them once a day for a week to check in, tell them how you’re doing, talk to them about your concerns. This is how you start building relationships in recovery. Some are going to stick with you because you maintain the relationhship and others will drift away because you really don’t have much in common but you will never know until you start to get to know the people in the rooms, outside of the rooms…now you’ve got people you can go for walks with, talk to, hang out with, go get coffee…you can’t do it alone and until I started doing those things I was so blue and sad and I never left my house. So try to get to know one person, get out, go for walks, get fresh air, go for coffee. You have to practice living now, before you got clean you were living like an animal struggling to survive, now it’s time to live like a human…give it a try, ;practice = change


      • helnbak permalink

        i’m going to try and do this. You are dead right, I am really bored and I feel isolated, I’m used to being around a lot of people all the time and now I’m on my own. I’m not craving heroin now but I have been which isn’t suprising as I went from using a lot 4 weeks ago to 60mls methadone and straight down to 20 which I’ve been on for 3 weeks. It was really hard to get stable on that, but I actually do feel stable now. I’m doing a residential detox in the next few weeks and I am seeing a psychotherapist who is helping me along with reiki as well.
        I am probably doing this too quickly but the ball is now rolling so it’s happening! The detox is for 4 weeks though and I’m not going back to where I was living before, 300 miles away, so it’s a case of starting a completely new life. I’m going to take your advice though. I miss my old friends but I don’t miss how miserable it all was; I feel sad that they are all still there but I can’t think about that, I do need to move on and meet new people. It’s good to know that what I’m feeling like is what other people feel like too, and I suppose it’s understandable under the circumstances! Thanks for your comment it makes a lot of sense.


      • Glad I could help, please, please, please, think about yourself first and foremost, you are special and important and you will be able to help others, you can start now! Someone, right now is entering treatment or the doors of NA right now as we speak, you can help them, you can guide them by telling them what’s working for you. I do think you are detoxing off of methadone way too quick, I did it last year and I relapsed. they recommend about 2-3 mgs every 2-3 weeks, I’m concerned for you but you have the support of a therapist and that’s great! If for whatever you reason you ever feel a relapse coming on immediately do something about it, call people get in to see your therapist, relapse is preventable. You’re going to be just fine and by helping others you will be helping yourself. Keep writing!!


  5. helnbak permalink

    Thank you! I know you are right, I hope though that the help I will get in the detox will help me to not relapse but I’m aware this is quick and going to be difficult. Its really good to get an understanding of how other people are doing this and I am going to find out about NA.


    • Good move, get out there and check all the programs out that are available, you have options and what works for me may not work for you. All I can do is tell you what happened with me and my experiences….good luck, don’t give up, it’s worth it!


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. What do you mean my journey isn’t about me? or How self-promotion CAN benefit others | Human In Recovery
  2. There Is No Cure For Addiction, There Is Treatment | A Path To Recovery
  3. Doctors, The New Drug Dealers On The Block | A Path To Recovery
  4. Anonymity In Recovery | A Path To Recovery
  5. 30 Days of Recovery ~ chapter 26: The Pink Cloud of Recovery | A Path To Recovery
  6. A Better Life: Full Introduction | A Path To Recovery
  7. What Little Things Can We Do Each Day On Our Journey Of Recovery? | A Path To Recovery
  8. Discrimination Against Recovering Addicts ~By The Doctors Who Prescribed Them The Drugs In The First Place | A Path To Recovery
  9. Biochemistry of Addiction | Journey Through Recovery

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