Most of us who have suffered from addiction have never experienced true unconditional love and acceptance – not from parents, friends, society or ourselves. As a result, we live with ego-based deficiencies stories that form the core of our identities – stories such as “I’m not good enough” or “I’m a failure.” These ego-based stories became our operating systems precisely because we never received true unconditional love and acceptance growing up. Instead, we have lived on the receiving end of unrealistic expectations, judgments, punishments, control or some other form of authoritative force from parents or society. We yearn for others to tell us that we are ok, that we are loved and accepted just as we are. Never receiving what you truly yearn for, we are conditioned to continue in our addictive behaviors, seeking to fill the gaping hole and woundedness of these learned deficiency stories. These stories then drive us to medicate our woundedness with drugs, alcohol, sex/porn, sugar, tobacco or some other addictive substance or activity.
The answer to addiction lies in realizing and experiencing the unconditional love and acceptance that has eluded us all our lives. However, many of our treatment centers and recovery programs are still operating under an old model that actually reinforces these deficiency stories within us. Addiction treatment and recovery is considered “behavioral health.” The focus of these centers and program is often on changing the outward behaviors rather than helping us heal these inner core stories and emotional wounds. When the focus is on changing outward behavior, these centers and programs are missing the mark. They strive to become the authority in a person’s life, demanding unrealistic expectations, judging, punishing and even controlling a person’s life and behaviors.
This “old model,” as I call it, can even begin to look and feel like a cult. If you look at the checklist for what constitutes a cult, you can start to see just how close this old model comes to being cult-like. Cults expect unquestioned commitment to authority. They seek to control the behavior of their members. Members are often shamed or made to feel guilty if they do anything that appears to step outside the rules and doctrines of the program. Cults socially isolate themselves and their members, making them feel separate and apart from society as a whole. Important decisions in the lives of members are made by the authority figures within the group.
Take a look at just how closely this old model of recovery is just like a cult. When you enter recovery, you are told that you must identify yourself as an “addict.” If you don’t, you are told that you are in denial and are pressured until you identify yourself as such. You are told that the center or program is the only way to truly recover. If you question any of that, you are shamed or made to feel wrong or bad about yourself. When you engage in certain behavior – relapse or any acting out or rule violations – there are quite often consequences that look a lot like punishment. For example, it is not unusual for a treatment center to continuously “write up” a client for a series of behaviors and then discharge the client, without ever really helping the client resolve the underlying psychological or emotional issues that are driving the behaviors. This constant barrage of writeups easily reinforces the core deficiency story. Many programs have doctrines that act to isolate their members from the rest of society. For example, in many programs, you are encouraged to see yourself as “sick” and see others who are not addicts as “normal people.” This isolates you psychologically from anyone outside the program. In treatment programs, the staff – as the authority – often imposes decisions in the lives of clients. This is based on the erroneous assumption that the staff always knows what is best for clients. This imposing force is often coming from anxiety and anger in staff members, who have not truly resolved their own emotional and psychological issues. Many staff members in treatment centers are in recovery themselves but not all are working solid recovery programs. They often project their own inner struggles onto the clients. They have yet to find unconditional love and acceptance within themselves, so they struggle to show it to clients. This creates a whirlwind of stress and division between staff and clients.
At the Kiloby Center for Recovery we are changing the paradigm. We are employing a “new model” based on unconditional love and acceptance. Our motto is “we want what you want.” With this model, we do not impose belief systems on clients. We do not control the lives of clients. We do not demand unquestioned commitment to our authority. When clients demonstrate unhealthy behaviors, we focus on helping the clients resolve the underlying psychological and emotional issues driving the behaviors, instead of swiftly bringing down the hammer of judgment and punishment. If someone relapses, but is still willing to pick themselves up and try again, they are met with unconditional love and acceptance. The staff members at our Center are required to do their own inner work. Anytime they feel compelled to control, judge or punish a client out of anxiety or anger, they are required to take a look and resolve the underlying emotional and psychological issues driving that compulsion, before they address the client.
Clients, after a relapse or after exhibiting unhealthy behaviors, are often pleasantly surprised when we tell them that we are not mad or upset and that we love them. The entire paradigm is based on this motto of “we want what you want.” So if a client wants to do our work, we want that for them. If they don’t want to do our work, we help them find a center or program that resonates more with the client. Our entire program is built on helping clients dissolve the deficiency stories that have been driving their addictions. We are not focused client’s behaviors. We are focused on the psychological and emotional healing of the issues underlying those behaviors. We believe that the focus on this inner work truly changes lives for the better in the long run. We believe that short term punitive approaches actually reinforce the deficiency stories. The first rule of thumb in health care is “do no harm.” When you walk into the Kiloby Center, you can feel in the air the peace and freedom that this model of recovery generates.
If you are tired of being addicted and carrying around a deficiency story, if you are tired of never finding or experiencing true unconditional love and acceptance, or if you are tired of centers and programs that try to bully you into sobriety or use their authority to compel you to behave a certain way, contact us at the Kiloby Center. Try a new model, one that is based on dealing with what is truly driving your addiction and the behaviors related to it. Let us help you get to the core of the issues so that you can learn to love and accept yourself just as you are. This is how true healing happens. It happens from within. True recovery is about an authentic spiritual awakening, where we wake up out of these cult-like patterns and deficiency stories and begin to love and treat each other with the utmost respect and compassion.