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Why Aren’t People Staying Clean From Drugs/Alcohol?

The U.S. needs a multi-pronged approach to drug addiction. (Photo: Pixabay)
The U.S. needs a multi-pronged approach to drug addiction. (Photo: Pixabay)

America is facing a major drug problem, we know that, but people are not staying clean and keep dying. What can be done?

In America, we are clearly facing a drug epidemic. The crux of the problem being Heroin and Fentanyl laced Heroin. This is basically the result of Purdue Pharma introducing Oxycontin in the late ’90s and having it boom in popularity in the new Millenium. What was once easy to get prescribed pain pills became a lot more restricted and many people who have never even thought about illegal drugs were being told that heroin has the same effect as Oxycontin and now here we are. We have a large percentage of multiple generations that are addicted and dying everyday.

Along with this epidemic, there has been a boom in the number of treatment centers that are opening up around this country. While it certainly is a good thing for more places to open up for the high demand of help that people with addiction need. We have yet to see any kind of slowing down in death rates or recovery rates. It is actually not that easy to come across actual relapse rates, treatment centers dominate google search results and the last thing they want you to see is that typically 90% of people who go to treatment do not stay clean afterward. 90% is an incredibly high number but what is there to blame? Is there anything to blame?

One big mistake addicts new to recovery and their loved ones always make is that going to rehab is the solution. You go, you clean up, and then you live happily ever after. That is in no way the case, I can speak from personal experience that I have gotten out of rehab and got high an hour afterward. I had no intentions or plans on doing it, but the idea crossed my mind and off I went. I really wish I had an educational reason now as to why I used to do that but the truth is the only answer I have is because I wanted to. This is the demographic we are dealing with currently, the kind to go to rehab and really want to stop using, but for whatever reason on the day they get out they are high. Many overdoses occur when people first relapse because they use the amount they used to use but their tolerance is lower from being abstinent a few weeks or months so the dosage is too high and they suffer a major overdose.

While treatment is important, what is incredibly more important is what your plans are afterward. I’ve seen treatment centers with their own sober living and alumni programs that keep addicts connected to each other and I’ve seen other places that give you the boot after 28 days and plan on never seeing you again unless you need help again. Of course the former is a better option and those who go through programs with extended sober living have a better shot of staying clean but even with that available, the numbers are still staggering and I really can’t speak to the ratio of treatment centers that have extended stays compared to those that don’t.

Typically in rehab, you are told to go to a fellowship after discharge, most commonly Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. While AA is what ultimately saved me from my alcoholism, I do not believe it is for everyone from my experience. This is where I feel like the recovery community has faltered. If somebody wants to get clean or sober but does not want to be involved with a fellowship, those said fellowships, for the most part, shun and walk away from that person.  While I’m not speaking about everyone, I do believe its a subconscious habit that a lot of people in the rooms of both fellowships have.

I am certainly not bashing said fellowships but the recovery community and others need to start looking into alternative methods for addicts and alcoholics looking for help. AA and NA have been around for decades, and still the relapse rates are getting higher and higher as those decades fly by. There has been a trend the past few years of  Neurofeedback being used to combat the craving for drugs and alcohol in an addicts brain which is a great start. There is a common belief between those in recovery that if someone does not want to be a part of AA or NA then they are going to fail. The problem with that is you are instilling to whoever doesn’t want to be a part of your fellowship that they have no chance of getting sober before they really even start trying! Not only that, you probably ruined them even being open to going those fellowships for the rest of their life.

I wish I could end this article with a solution, with even a proposition but I am too aware of the mind of an addict. It is sneaky and the most powerful thing they have to face in their life. My only hope is that the recovery community does not isolate somebody because they do not want to live the AA way of life. All that should matter is they want to stop using drugs or drinking and want to change, once they reach that point they should be met with support from anyone who has dealt with the same thing.


  1. Dalton July 11, 2019

    Nice piece man.

  2. Dr L July 13, 2019

    The reason extended programs are helpful is because of the additional support. AA and NA also provide support however the programs actually keep you living an addict centric life. Behavior must change and be maintained to allow neural pathways to heal and be reformed in a way that maintains non addictive behavior patterns. Living within a community of addicts, I feel, is harmful if prolonged. New behavior patterns and thinking patterns need to be established for successful recovery.

  3. Larry Stout July 21, 2019

    “Twelve-step programs” are themselves like a narcotic in the form of a religious cult. You are told to put your mind and life not only in the hands of a “god”, but also in the hands of a self-proclaimed apostle of that god, the program leader. You are told that you can never recover, you can only hope to be “recovering”, thus perpetuating your cult membership for life.

    Ruinous pharmaceuticals constitute an extremely profitable industry, on both sides of the law. Police and judges and legislators are corrupted by it. The distributors can afford their own private submarines.

    “Popular culture”, so-euphemized and that most-wonderful thing called “peer pressure”make addiction “cool”. Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, Snapchat, and your favorite pills — everything required for happiness, isn’t it?

    Do you think the fact that half the population sports an IQ of less than 100 is a contributing factor?


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