Habilitation is a concept whose time has come. Rehab doesn’t work! People just relapse. In my opinion the entire rehab industry, including AA and NA (and don’t even get me started on the pharmaceutical companies’ involvement) based upon lies contrived to ostracize and therefore isolate addicts – which leaves them feeling alone and abandoned, so they turn to their addictions again and again – continuing to perpetuate this cycle for their own astronomical profit.
Consider the results of this rat experiment which outlined some FASCINATING research regarding addiction. In my honest opinion, it proves that a person’s environment and available options/choices are largely responsible for the depth and severity of addiction and addictive behavior.
To summarize, the study found that isolation and loneliness contributed enormously to obsessively addictive behavior. I further posit that purpose and a sense of duty or responsibility to others are important to cultivate as well. When we know that someone may need us at a moment’s notice, we tend to stay vigilant. However, the two are linked, because you can’t have a sense of duty or responsibility to others if you, yourself are feeling neglected or abandoned.
So there you have it in a nutshell: I believe this is the ultimate key to controlling addiction. Neither curing it, nor decrying it as incurable, but controlling it and keeping it from ruling one’s life.
The rat experiment suggests society has it all wrong. We don’t need to force addicts to stay away from substances forever. What we need to do is to help them build meaningful lives that push the addiction to the sidelines rather than allowing them (the addictions) to remain the focal point and driving force. The happy rats in the above-referenced experiment didn’t stop using altogether, but their behavior lost the obsessive and dangerous focus upon the drug. They achieved balance. BALANCE!
My proposed solution?
Confer with those who are capable of developing such a concept, and acquire funding to develop the rat park concept for humans on a grand scale. That is, after all, what lab experiments are best intended for: as the templates and blueprints for replication of those ideas for ourselves as a society.
I like the term “habilitation” because REhabilitation suggests returning one to a previously “good” state of being – but many (if not most) unbalanced individuals have never experienced a “good” state of being in their lifetimes. Habilitation, by contrast, suggests more a concept of programming or reprogramming oneself with better habits. In computer terms, you would call it overwriting the existing corrupted or negative and damaging information with better and more useful data.
Habilitation Clinics should be challenging and fun. They could be designed like theme parks, with each one planned around a given theme. Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings… whatever. Participants would be part of a live-action adventure or quest, to work as a team and learn to rely on each other. Call it fun-habilitation!
Fun, purpose and adventure contribute to the strengthening of body, mind, and spirit simultaneously; in a controlled environment with medical personnel – or at least trained personnel – handy and always monitoring.
What do you think? Do it, or forget about it? Let me know in the comments below.