A&D Counselors Are Clueless

     There is nothing more useless for addicts and alcoholics than relapse prevention (via trigger identification)… except maybe harm reduction (i.e. methadone, suboxone, etc.). When you go to any run-of-the-mill TC, an A&D counselor sits you down, gives you some paper, and tells you to write down all of your triggers. Then the addict stares at the counselor and then stares at the paper and thinks, Hunh??? Then the counselor says something like,

     “Come on, Charlie, be honest, I’m sure you have many, many triggers. Think about it, dig deep and write them all down, because if you can identify your triggers, then you can avoid them, and then you can just stay sober. And if you bump into one of them by accident, not to worry because relapse is part of recovery.”

     Besides all of that being complete nonsense, let’s just pretend for a moment that triggers exist and that I avoid every trigger known to man. It doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t prevent me from wanting to get high, which then brings up a much more important point. I can go around desperately trying to avoid triggers, but, uh, wait a sec, I’m still the most miserable, anxious, crazy, pissed off, twisted, depressed, hopeless, bored, frustrated and selfish piece of shit I know. WTF kind of solution is that?

     Yup, that’s right. It’s no kind of solution at all. I’m still untreated and suffer from the mental obsession and am subject to relapse at any time. This solution is equivalent to locking myself up and throwing away the key, because that’s the only way to keep a sober-only addict sober. And locking us up is, of course, not a solution. In fact, considering these guys actually have to go to school to become a counselor, it’s just about the dumbest advice I’ve ever heard in my entire life. Once you let me out of my cage, guess what happens? That’s right, I go relapse. But not to worry because there does exist a real solution that can lift our obsession and make us free men and women, safe to go anywhere on God’s earth that we please without worrying about some fictional trigger. Refer to all previous posts to learn about that.

      The reason it is so asinine to tell an addict to write down a bunch of triggers is because they must conjure them out of thin air. Triggers don’t exist, so the addict is tasked with making shit up that has nothing to do with why they use. We are essentially tasked with concocting lies, which seems a little counter-productive, but hey, that’s just me. The so-called trigger has no part in causing us to use, and the addict knows this, trust me. Addicts use because the thought (randomly or deliberately) comes into their minds and then they go use. Thoughts to use occur regardless of what is happening around us, regardless of where we are, what we’re looking at, who we are with, or what we are feeling.

     Furthermore, once the thought occurs, there is no getting rid of it. We have already relapsed. We will use as soon as we get the chance, even if we have promptly removed ourselves from our so-called triggers. A&D counselors just don’t understand the mental component of addiction. So if you want to know the truth about addiction, this is it. Ask any real addict and they will tell you, “Yes, that is exactly right. That guy must be an addict. Why don’t they have people like that at the methadone clinic?” Lol.

     I’ve had drug counselors spam this blog in the past demanding that I admit I am misguided and that triggers do indeed exist and that avoiding triggers works to keep “most” drug addicts sober and to curb their desire to use. Hold on, excuse me for a second while I try to stop laughing. There is no such thing as avoiding something and then suddenly we don’t want to use anymore. But I’m here to help, so let’s illuminate a few things for these poor A&D counselors, all too quick to flip the robot switch and recite everything they learned in school. This blog will open your eyes if you let it. Or you can just disagree for no other reason other than because this conflicts with what you think you know.

     When an addict is walking down the street and they see a liquor store and then suddenly they want to drink, even though the counselor was able to push the alcoholic to conjure up some triggers, the truth is that his sudden desire to drink had nothing to do with the liquor store. It is just as likely that I walk right past the liquor store and I see some asshole pull into handicap spot and then I want to drink. It is also just as likely that I walk past the liquor store and the bus pulls up next to me and the exhaust goes in my face and then I want to drink. It is also just as likely that I walk past the liquor store and stare off into space and then I want to drink. It is also just as likely that I walk past the liquor store and nothing happens and then I want to drink. And it is also just as likely that I don’t even walk past any liquor store or do anything and I just suddenly want to drink for no reason at all.

     The truth is that triggers do not exist. There is no such thing as a trigger. We can avoid every trigger we can possibly think of and not only will it not keep us from being ‘triggered’ by something totally new, or rather, nothing at all, but avoiding triggers doesn’t stop us from wanting to use because the thought will come for any reason or for no reason. The only trigger that truly exists is simply being alive, breathing, waking up. I used to look out the window and see a cloud and want to get high. Did the could trigger me? Only an idiot would actually think that.

     I only write what I write to help addicts from making the effort to go to treatment, failing, and then getting bummed out because the advice was so wrong and so stupid that they then gave up trying because they are now convinced that the whole treatment thing is utter bullshit, which most of it is, and then they walk away and go use and overdose and die, thus brutalizing their families and suffocating the very spirit of their parents for life, thus ensuring total agony and dread and despair and depression until the very last breath that they take on earth.

     Is it really any wonder why the statistics for addicts completing treatment are so atrocious? And why the heck are we screaming for more federal spending when a) federalized treatment worsens our addiction, and b) our country has over 17 trillion dollars of federal debt, over 70 trillion dollars in total public debt, and over 225 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities? Are you kidding me?

God, please help guide mainstream treatment to the light…

5 thoughts on “A&D Counselors Are Clueless

  1. HA! My son had to write triggers down in one of the rehabs he was at – foil was one of them so I hid all my foil and now you tell me this? So I can go find my foil and put it away? Damn Charlie! lol

    What about the people, places and things? I think I understand what you are saying – but if my son was trying to get sober and then goes right back to the same people that all use wouldn't that be a trigger to use? Or would that be he just wants to use so he goes back to those people. Okay I think I just answered my own question. But I would like a little more clarification because I am confused.

    As you know I am studying for the certification and I was looking at smart recovery rehabs thinking maybe that would be a good fit for me and none that I have found are approved by oh snap I forgot who they are supposed to be approved by in order to get the hours need for CAADAC. This whole thing is so confusing to me – I think I took on a little too much.

  2. You can take out the foil and put it away, Tori. Lol. I guarantee you that hiding the foil won't keep anybody sober. If your son says the foil made him relapse, trust me, it wasn't your fault, it wasn't my fault, and it certainly wasn't the poor, innocent little foil's fault 😉

    I spend time with many people who still use, some to try to help, some to hit golf balls with. But I have a reason to be with them. Do they trigger me? Nope. Why? Because I'm okay. Because I'm recovered. Because drugs and alcohol have no power over me anymore.

    If you're okay, nothing is a trigger. If you're not okay, I suppose anything could be a trigger. But even if you remove all of your son's so-called triggers, a thousand new ones will pop up. The list is potentially infinite. When I wake up and realize that I'm not high and suddenly want to get high, what triggered me? Nothing, other than waking up. Should I not wake up? The point is that nothing actually triggers us. Our brains suffer from thoughts to use regardless of what people, places and things we avoid.

    Sure you don't want to go hang out with a bunch of methheads in early recovery, but once you are recovered, it doesn't matter who you hang out with, because there are no more thoughts to use. There is no more desire, and thus, there is no such thing as a trigger. I could bartend if I wanted to. In fact, it's not a bad idea. Think of how many knuckleheads I could find to take through the Steps.

    Finally, avoiding people, places and things is not a solution. Think about it. Sure you could lock us up so that we are never exposed to anything that might 'trigger' us, but what sort of life is that? It's no life at all, and it's only a matter of time before we fail completely. What we need is to become recovered, and then we are as free as a bird to roam anywhere we please.

    So anything or nothing can trigger us. Even if the foil is hidden, we could just suddenly want to use anyway, randomly, for no reason at all. And thus triggers, you see, ultimately, are just flimsy excuses.

    “Ma, if you didn't have the freakin' foil out, I wouldn't have used.”

    Ahhhhh, no. It's not the foil's fault. We can't blame the foil. The foil didn't do anything wrong. Our head is what's wrong. The real point here is that avoiding 'triggers', whether you want to believe they exist or not, is not a solution for drug addicts. You are still untreated and it is only a matter of time before the thought to use comes flying into your brain once again, trigger or no trigger.

    Make sense?

  3. Yes it completely makes sense. I think I have shared with you that it has been a very confusing 9 plus years from me. During that time however I have formed a lot of my own opinions just based on my own research. When they gave an entire meetings on triggers I was thinking about everything – do I switch his bedroom with my other son, paint his room, get a new bed? I got not being around other addicts in early recovery but I didn't really understand everything else. He smoked Heroin all over the place short of moving there was no way possibly to prevent that.

    And the constant, “relapse is part of recovery” I do not understand that. They would tell him over and over again and me – and that I needed to be patient and understand that. His Therapist said he will relapse it will happen so expect it- and that the hope is for is longer sobriety time between each relapse. So he has 2 weeks clean and then relapses for a few days and then gets clean for 3 weeks and repeats the cycle but each time he gets a little longer sober time until before you know it he has been sober one year. HUH? At that rate it would take my son 5 years to get 1 year clean. But then the therapist says if he relapses throw him out right away – let him back in when he is sober. So every couple of weeks I throw him out just to bring him back in after a few days? By the way we tried it that way and it didn't work not even close. The therapist told us to just tell him not to come home when he was using those few days – so stupid. So many mixed messages. What is your opinion on Relapse is part of recovery? I think if they are recovered then there wouldn't be relapsing. A person who is a “Chronic Relapser” which is what they labeled my son to me is a person who is not ready to be clean – and let's face it he managed to put a few days or a few weeks of clean time in but never very long. He is out of our home now as of 8/16 and I know it was the best thing we did for him.

    Could you to do a post on the relapse is part of recovery issue? I would love your opinion.

    P.S. I got the foil out and put it in the drawer that it belonged in. That was such a relief – I might even go buy an extra box of foil just because I can.

  4. I'm so glad you put the foil away, Tori. And if you go buy some extra foil, I will match each box you buy with some high-quality Reynolds Wrap and send them to you.

    Think about that statement: “Relapse is part of recovery.” It is quite the oxymoron, to say the least, considering relapse has nothing to do with recovery. Your account of the advice, strategy and overall understanding of addiction from your son's treatment professionals is very disturbing, and it is the only reason I continue to do this.

    Here is a previous post I wrote that addresses the ridiculous cliche that 'relapse is part of recovery.' It's is also the last link in the 'Popular Posts' section. I strongly recommend it to anyone who considers relapse to be a part of recovery.


  5. I should have scrolled down your list before I asked you to write about it – duh! I read it and you nailed it. It didn't matter how many people mainly Counselor's I questioned or therapists or people in NA (I would go with my son some times) but they would all tell me I was wrong and I didn't “get” it because I wasn't an addict or of course didn't have the years of experience working with addicts and didn't have a degree. The fact that I am not an addict and have absolutely no medical experience how can I have an intelligent debate?

    I have a few more questions I would love your opinion on but I am going to scroll down your list first and make sure you didn't already cover it! 🙂

    Thanks Charlie!

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