Apart from appropriately prescribed medications, Clinic Les Alpes is an alcohol and drug free environment.
Clinic Les Alpes will offer an abstinence-based approach to achieving a sustainable recovery, although it will not be rigidly dogmatic. The judicious use of medications will be determined purely by clinical necessity. You will not be withdrawn from medications for which there is a current or ongoing clinical need. The clinical protocols for managing withdrawal will be of an international standard and ones that have been tried and tested over decades.
Abstaining from addictive substances or behaviours is the starting point of treatment. It is most certainly not however an end in itself.
Simply not doing something is not very appealing. It is about not doing something in order to allow and enable something positive to happen: recovery and all the good that comes with it.
There is a very practical point to abstinence. Without the distorting interference of the substance or behaviour, the person is more clearly revealed, including to themselves. It is possible to assess whether a variety of mental and physical symptoms in evidence on admission were purely associated with active addiction or might exist any way. Some symptoms disappear while others come into clearer relief. In a sense there is a truer picture of the individual following withdrawal.
Abstinence – just for today
When considering taking an abstinence-based approach to recovery from addiction, people are often beset with anxiety and a number of questions may swirl around their minds.
It is entirely understandable. Giving up and letting go is one of the hardest things for human beings to do, let alone addicted people. If you have had a psycho-physiologically dependent attachment to a substance and behaviour for some time, in spite of the harm it is doing to you and others close to you, the prospect of giving it up may fill the person with fear; dread even.
It is fear of the unknown. It is fear of what will fill the space currently occupied by addiction-related activity in all its dimensions. It is fear about identity. It is fear about how they will cope despite the fact that there is abundant evidence that they are not presently coping, which may indeed be the thing that has led them to seek help from a place like Clinic Les Alpes in the first place.
Very often they would like to reserve to themselves the possibility of using the substance or engaging in the behaviour at some time in the future. It is a kind of emotional insurance policy; something to hold onto, a comfort blanket of a thought.
So we hear anxiety-fuelled questions like, “Are you telling me I can never/ will never be able to drink, use, etc. again?”
The first thing to say is we are not telling anyone not to do this or that when they leave our care. They will always have a choice to exercise. Our aim is that the choices they make should be thoroughly informed by a hugely improved understanding of addiction and recovery.
We are asking them to look at the effects and consequences of what they have been doing up to now and see what conclusions are to be drawn from them to help keep themselves safe and develop a fulfilling future.
We aim for them to be able to recognise how addiction seeks to undermine recovery at every turn. This can often be seen in thoughts that emerge, seemingly innocent in character but which hold a malign intent. Addiction would much rather the person wasted their precious time on such questions than get on with saving their lives.
The question quoted above needs to be looked at in a different light. With the right kind of help the person can be supported to come to an understanding as to how they might be approaching recovery in a way which will not serve them well.
We may therefore invite them to shift their focus away from “not doing” and onto the creative and positive endeavour that is the building of a well-founded recovery for themselves.
We might suggest that they let go of the concern as to whether they can ever engage in a particular behaviour again in the future and each day while they are with us commit to abstinence “just for today”. See what it is like and talk to others about this. They can then experience the benefits for themselves as the days accumulate almost without being noticed.
As recovery takes on a momentum of its own, many people find the question cited above no longer has any relevance and see wrestling with it a distraction to the purpose of recovery.
It comes as a great relief to give up the struggle of trying to find a way to hold onto something that is destroying them. They gain a sense of freedom.