I had the pleasant good fortune of seeing a former client the other day who had entered methadone treatment for his opiate addiction about 7 years ago. I remember him struggling for the first 2 years with relapses (mostly to cocaine, not opiates) and our clinic offering a variety of different treatments to help him get on track.
Due to a string of drug tests always positive for illicit substances, we were critically close to detoxing him from our methadone program. As you might imagine, he was a daily prisoner in his addiction and the pieces of the recovery puzzle were just not connecting yet in a way that worked for him.
As a last chance run in formal treatment, he attended a Day Treatment program that we offered which provided group and individual counseling, psycho-educational classes, and activity therapy Monday through Friday from 8:00 am – 3:30 pm. It was at this time that he obtained his first clean drug test. This first success led to a second clean test, and then a third.
I remember believing in this person's sincerity. He wanted to change, and he needed the unconditional support of others who were not willing to give up on him … even when he was close to giving up on himself. Toward the end of treatment, there was a noticeable shift in his sense of hope. He had come to believe that recovery was possible for him. And where he used to see only a dead end, he now saw a light on the path just ahead of him getting brighter and brighter with each passing day.
When we sat and talked the other day, he was celebrating 5 uninterrupted years of recovery – no drugs, no probation, no jail, no longer financially destitute. He continues to take methadone and has enjoyed an ever-improving life in which he is meeting personal goals including: employment, home ownership, and the ability to care for his sickly, aging father. This is a great source of pride for the client being able to care for his father. It's a commitment he keeps every single day. Recovery, via methadone assistance and counseling, made this possible.
I am reminded how easy it is to judge addicted people, and to give up on them. But there is a reality that we must never forget. And it is that a suffering addict may be just one step away from turning the corner and passing through that doorway into a new life of recovery. We must not extinguish that dim light, that glimmer of hope, that helps people hold on just one more day. Recovery is always possible. As a counselor, I learned a long time ago that you cannot predict who will make it, or when. Never should we be so presumptuous or jaded.
Never give up! I believe in that. Congratulations to all of those who are still trying. Recovery may be closer than you think.