Tuesday, August 12, 2014

My 7 Months in Treatment

First off... No, I was not admitted to treatment. But I have had the experience of working at a residential treatment center for the past seven months and the experience has been incredible.

When I first started, I hated it. Going to work every day and being constantly berated with the worst language you've ever heard all the while trying to "build relationships" is no easy task. 

After awhile I realized that every person there was just that, a person. And so here I give you the 3 undeniable truths that treatment has taught me. 

#1. Addictions are real. 

Don't get me wrong. Of course before working here I knew that addictions were real. But have you ever thought about what having an addiction entails for the addict? Neither had I. Not only do addictions cause physical distress, but they also take an immense toll on a person's psyche. Having an addiction will lead you to hate yourself in ways never imagined. Being controlled by an outside substance makes you feel incapable, worthless, and unlovable. In my seven months at treatment, I have met many students with these exact feelings. Yes, they are in treatment, yes they know that they made the decisions that led to their addictions, but they are also broken. It's time to stop blaming addicts, and start encouraging them; helping them to realize that they can choose to end the cycle and that they are worth it. 

#2. Communication is the key to success. But really. 

Most students I have worked with admit to having bad communication as part of their families' cultures. Here's the thing, parents, please know what your kids are doing and who they are with. It doesn't matter if a kid has been raised in a religious home or not. It doesn't matter if a kid has been raised in an affluent home or not. Kids have friends. And those friends have an immensely profound influence on what your kids are or are not doing. Create a culture in your home of open communication. Please do this. I have learned that when kids know that their parents want to talk to them and want to know what's going on in their lives, then those kids will be more likely to come to their parents when issues come up. Good communication leads to successful families and creates safety in the home. 

Please also learn how to communicate with yourself. Know your limits, both physically and mentally. You're right, I'm not a trained psychologist and probably don't have the right to give such advice, but I have seen this principle in action. When you know yourself, you can love yourself; and that is the foundation of everything you do as a person. 

#3. Love really can heal anything. 

It can! Think of those times when you have felt alone, worthless, and stupid. Now think of how you were able to stop feeling those feelings. More than likely you were able to pull out of those feelings because either someone showed you love, or you decided to show love. Never underestimate the power that you have over yourself and others. If you wake up each morning and make a commitment to love all those you come into contact with, you may just change somebody's life. 

Share a smile with the person walking by. Call that friend or relative you've been meaning to call just to let them know you care. Do something for yourself each day. Love is one of the most powerful tools that we as humans have the privilege of using. So use it!

These seven months have truly been life changing. But these 3 simple truths have proved to be even more life changing for me. If you take nothing else from this post, then take this; learn to love. Learn to love yourself, your friends, your spouse, your enemies. Pure unadulterated love can change the world. 

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