Learning from Challenges

I sat with a discharging client this month, reviewing his experience during his treatment stay with us. It was enlightening and highlighted some challenges common in early recovery. The client smiled warmly while recalling two struggles he had with the program and the lessons learnt from them. He noted that:

  • It was difficult keeping to a structured schedule at first because his life had gotten so chaotic that his mind initially protested against having a routine. Nevertheless with time, the structured schedule became a welcome feature every day. It helped him set goals, promoted feelings of accomplishment and added a purpose to living.
  • Restriction on electronics, especially the cell phone was his biggest challenge. He had come to believe that the world was just a button away and used his cell phone for everything. Slowly he began to realize that not only had his substance addiction kidnapped him from living, but similarly his cell phone had limited his physical social experiences.

This client gained insight in recognizing that chaos and over reliance on technology had become his norm in addiction and was willing to learn healthier behaviors during residential treatment. Many other clients continue to struggle with these challenges, unknowingly jeopardizing their early recovery, rather than embracing the lessons that emerge. In fact, the biggest challenge for most clients in any treatment program is giving up unrestricted access to their electronics. Indeed connecting to social media releases dopamine, the same chemical that gets released when we use most addictive substances and as such must be included in the recovery process.

At Crossroads Centre Antigua, we embrace the importance of staying connected, but view it as essential
that our clients rediscover the art and immense pleasure of connecting to self first, then others around
them. A client once stated that food tasted so much better now that she was eating with others,
whereas in the past she ate with one hand and texted with the other. Simon Sinek (2018) in an article
entitled “Technology is the New Nicotine” commented that like any addiction, we have to be active in
our own recovery around technology and find a balance before control is lost. With this in mind I
encourage persons to be mindful that recovery is built on diligence in applying the early lessons learnt
and to see challenges as opportunities for growth. ONE DAY AT A TIME.

Jean-Machelle Benn-Dubois, Ph.D. LPC NCC
Director of Admissions & Continuum of Care
Crossroads Centre, Antigua
Antigua, W.I.
Toll-Free from US or Canada: 1 888 452-0091
Toll-Free from UK: 0 800 783-9631
Direct to Antigua: 1 268 562-0035 Ext. 5024
Fax: 1 268 562-3278
Email: jbenndubois@crossroadsantigua.org

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