By Scott Kiloby
Addiction is not about the substance or activity to which one is addicted. People who are addicted are really seeking connection with something or someone in order to fill up a perceived hole within them. We call this hole the deficiency story, which is a belief in being fundamentally flawed. This deep feeling of lack or deficiency comes from the inherent sense of separation we feel as people. The self is perceived as incomplete and lacking and this drives us to connect with something or someone in order to try and feel whole. Yet we never feel complete for long no matter how much we seek fulfillment outside ourselves. So what is the answer to this intractable condition called “addiction?” The real answer is definitely counterintuitive, controversial and goes against 50 years of addiction treatment that has failed.
We at the Kiloby Center have never stood down from the challenge of being different. Our center, as the first primarily mindfulness-based treatment center, has danced to the beat of its own drum since its beginning in 2014. Now we are taking our one-of a-kind place in the addiction field a giant leap forward, by directly challenging some of the major components of traditional recovery models and the low success rate attached to them (ranging from 5% to 25%).
Research in the last ten years has revealed that the addiction treatment industry has been focusing on the wrong issues. For years the focus has been on behavior, symptomology and cravings. These studies indicate that trauma, shame and self-esteem issues drive addictive behavior more than anything else. The focus has been off and the low national success rate is the proof of that.
Older models of recovery have also focused on punishing, shaming, pressuring or judging addicts as a way to scare them into sobriety. Unfortunately, not only does this not work much of the time, but it can also have the opposite effect of driving people deeper into addiction, traumatizing them or both. Why? It’s the Romeo and Juliet effect. Tell me I shouldn’t do something and that makes me want to do it more.
One really unfortunate consequence of these older models and how they tend to pressure, judge and punish is that such behavior often drives the addict to lie. Addicts learn very early in their addiction how to monitor and assess who is going to “freak out” about their addiction or make them feel bad about it. So they learn to hide and lie about their addiction to those particular people. When a treatment center or addiction program then engages in punishing, shaming, pressuring or judging, that center is actually welcoming dishonesty from the client. This makes treating the client next to impossible.
At the Kiloby Center, our whole focus is on unconditionally loving clients exactly as they are. No more judging, punishing, pressuring or shaming. We place no pressure on the client. Therefore the client gets to decide what he wants. If he makes the decision that recovery is what he wants, his chance of success is much, much higher than if he were being pressured into recovery. We have mindfulness inquiries that directly target and dissolve the pain caused by being surrounded by parents and loved ones who have been judging, shaming, pressuring and punishing.
We have seen this unconditional love plus mindfulness transform lives in ways older models of recovery simply cannot. First of all, there are no centers that we know of that have unconditional love as the basis for their programs. Therefore, these programs are placing conditions on their clients every day, further strengthening the clients’ addictions through this external pressure. Secondly, older models of recovery that are based purely on abstinence have their own conditions in place that can severely harm a recovering addict. For example, you can only be a member of certain programs if you are abstinent. Although this may sound wise on the surface, this focus on behavior very often creates a stigmatization of anyone who relapses in those programs. Therefore, it can feel as if you are loved and supported only when you are doing what others in the program believe you should be doing. This can strengthen shame and deficiency stories, two drivers behind addiction. The treatment becomes the problem at this point.
Unlike the Kiloby Center, many programs have no way of truly dissolving shame and trauma. Therefore, if their members relapse 5 to 10 years down the road, the unresolved shame and trauma can lead to a spiraling back down into full blown addiction. Because we deal with the shame and trauma early on at the Center, relapses are less severe in our model and there is simply no shame, punishment, judgment or pressure thrust upon any client who relapses.
More than anything else, something close to miraculous happens when our clients are loved unconditionally. They often actually want to stay in treatment. They feel that the staff is on their side completely. They feel as if they are the authority for their own lives and they often start making much healthier decisions on their own, when we simply love them wholly and completely as they are. But most of all, many of them simply lose interest in their drug of choice, having experienced unconditional love for the first time and having dived deeply into all the issues driving their addictions. They simply don’t have to lie anymore since they actually trust the staff not to punish or judge.
For those of you struggling in these older models of recovery or having trouble staying clean, give the Kiloby Center for Recovery a try. We know for sure that you have never experienced what we have to offer because we are the only center offering it. To get a better taste of our program, WATCH THIS VIDEO of a mother and son who were healed at the Kiloby Center.