During my time at The Redpoint Center, an addiction treatment program in Longmont Colorado, there are a few things that I have grown accustomed to hearing around the office. Our founder, Cody, has certain “isms” that he reiterates to the team; newly onboarded employees and veterans alike. It is clear that the man desires to do something different here, and it is evident he is committed to seeing it come to pass.
Cody has a way about him, a way of getting you, or whoever is in his sights thinking and excited about whatever the topic of discussion may be; more specifically how to think about that topic differently.
This quality is probably what excited me most about working with Cody, for as I continue to gain experience in this field grow increasingly more aware that there is still so much for us to learn, to try and to implement. One of the first questions Cody asks new clients and new hires is, “what is the answer to addiction”? This question is usually rebutted with a “what?” or a follow up question like “do you mean…. like in general?”
It is easy as Cody’s long-time friend, to see that he gets some sense of satisfaction in watching people scramble to respond to such a question, but not in the sense that you are probably thinking of. I believe Cody enjoys these questions because he enjoys thinking critically and prompting others to do the same. Which is why he’s the right guy for his job.
But, I submit to you, this isn’t an article about Cody Gardner, or the running of a drug rehab, or an IOP, but rather about this question he often asks. So, I ask you, dear reader, what is your answer? Is there an answer at all? Or is this disease really going to continue killing us off at roughly 170 souls a day. For me, and the folks I associate with professionally, this is an unacceptable option.
Now back to this question, “what is the answer to addiction”? For me, I have come to understand that the antidote to this disease for me, and many of my associates, is connection Johann Hari’s TED Talk as been viewed tens of millions of times and has sparked a national conversation about the nature of Addiction in America. I cannot summon an answer that makes more sense in my mind, considering a life that’s been hijacked by an addictive disorder illustrates a picture of crippling disconnection. Disconnection from everything, exclusionary of course, to the drug itself and the mental obsession that accompanies it.
Understanding that my answer is quite aloof and probably dissatisfactory to read, I will do my best to unpack it. A disclaimer first, the following is just my opinion; based in solely out of my observations and experience, both in my professional and personal life.
So, what then, are the ingredients to connection and how does one cultivate such a thing when it is seemingly out of reach? This is a question I ask myself frequently as it relates to every area of my life. The answer I’m afraid, often eludes me as one thing has made itself clear; that the path from disconnection to connection indeed is variant as any human experience.
But in this process of inquiry, I’ve noticed three distinct forms that connection often emerges as; and have noticed that they routinely take shape in sequence from one-another. It is my belief that the first, and most paramount being a restored connection with one’s-self, which opens the door to connection with others, and a consequent connection with our reality. What I mean by “our reality” is defined in a thousand ways by a thousand people. Whether that be called God, the Universe, Consciousness, Nature, Flow, or Higher Power makes little difference to me personally, as I see each identifying entity yielding the mirroring results to Its recipients.
Let’s go back to square one; connection to one’s-self. Often times, this takes some time when someone is just beginning their recovery journey. It is evident to me when I am working with new people that I am really working with their disease, ego and trauma; often presenting itself as fear, indignance, grandiosity, and entitlement. And for some time, these emotional experiences can be all an individual knows of themselves. Difficult symptoms, to be sure, but I think the greatest service I can extend to someone in this position is to do my best to create space, detach myself from the presenting symptoms but rather, internalize the pain behind them, and to gently point my new friend towards what’s true.
Once someone has effectively begun a process of self-inquiry and forging a connection to what’s true within them, I have witnessed the natural impulse to consult with the people about their respective experiences. When this reaching-out takes place, there is an opportunity that naturally presents itself; the opportunity to be vulnerable, to show your cards, to be seen by another. It is difficult to discuss our internal observations and struggles without some degree of openness, and it is my belief that vulnerability is the archway to connection with our fellow man.
Now imagine with me, a person has recently began unveiling their truth and forging relationships with people that they were otherwise completely detached from. What kind of life does this look like in practice? What are the gifts associated with clarity and community; what are the byproducts? When I picture this in my mind, I imagine and remember my first expressions of hope, experiences with serendipity and a sometimes-overwhelming feeling that I am an active participant in a life that almost slipped through my fingers. Amazing. Gifts.
It is my belief that this picture naturally points to a greater design; that as we continue to listen to ourselves and engage with what the present moment is presenting us, it is easier to see our place in the universe. Mind-bendingly small and yet uniquely Divine. As I write this, I am well aware of its lofty tone, particularly if you are currently struggling to get through your days. I can remember this message falling on my deaf ears a thousand times. So, if that’s you, thank you for making it this far in the article, and I encourage you to keep an open mind and imagine this picture for yourself.
In conclusion, I’d like to circle back to one of my initial questions; “what are the ingredients to connection” and how does this look on a day-to-day basis, and how do we foster this type of growth in ourselves and others? I believe the short answer is to create space and approach each individual with respect and compassion. To understand we are put together in an expressively unique way and that we ought to have patience with those in our life as they embark upon the uncharted waters of a connected life.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with substance use disorder, drug or alcohol addiction, or mental health issues, The Redpoint Center, in Longmont Colorado is happy to help. Our mission is to help each participant create a compelling vision for their future. We utilize a DBT focused IOP/PHP drug and alcohol treatment model that also includes a multitude of services designed to help each person find lasting recovery. Anyone interested can call admissions at (888) 509-3153.