Finding an addiction treatment program that works for you
If you’re reading this blog, chances are good that either you or someone you love has a problem with
addiction, whether it’s alcohol or drugs—or both.
You may be at the beginning of researching treatment options or, like me; you may have tried a
variety of alternatives, none of which worked.
How do you know what’s right for you? There is no one “right” path. Although addicts may have a lot in
common, your road to recovery is as unique as your path to addiction. I can’t tell you what will work for
you. I can only tell my story as to why I chose Schick Shadel Hospital to treat my drinking disease.
When I started looking for help, I WANTED AN EASY FIX. Was that too much to ask?
Apparently, yes—that was too much to ask.
I tried many ways to stop, looking for that magic bullet, the one that would cure me forever:
I attended a 90-day women’s intensive outpatient program that consisted mostly of group therapy
and support. I was sober for two years, but I always craved booze even when I wasn’t drinking.
I went to AA. Personally, I didn’t like having to say I’m an alcoholic, present tense. I didn’t like the
idea of turning my life over to a higher power, or having to admit I’m powerless. It’s right for many
people, but it wasn’t right for me.
I went to a naturopath.
I had acupuncture treatments.
I took antidepressants.
I took Antabuse. Once, when I relapsed and was violently ill, I told my husband that all I did was
smell alcohol and it triggered the reaction. He didn’t believe me. Huh—wonder why…
I took multiple vitamin and mineral supplements.
I even went to a hypnotist.
I had an intervention by two of my best friends who urged me to go into inpatient rehab. I
researched programs. Some were expensive, lasted a long time (28-90 days, some six months to a
year), and many consisted of 12-step programs. And I didn’t want to go to an inpatient treatment
program—that would mean I had a problem!!!
I went to a counselor trained in treating addiction. She listened to my account of growing up in an
unsafe alcoholic home and diagnosed me with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder—and alcoholism.
She urged me to go to AA meetings, despite my telling her I didn’t think they were a good fit for me.
When I finally started researching inpatient programs and asked her about Schick, she practically
shuddered as she said: “No, they do aversion therapy there.”
So I continued drinking myself to death. Literally. I craved alcohol morning, noon, and night.
Then I paid attention to ads about Schick Shadel Hospital. When I started asking around about it, I got
some negative comments—mostly from people who didn’t know anyone who went there, who had just
“heard” of someone who went. Some expressed doubts about the ethics of the treatment.
I decided to go anyway, mostly for two reasons: 1) it was a medical treatment, and 2) it took ten days. I
could do ten days.
That was in 2005. I’ve been sober since, and miracle of miracles, continue to have no cravings. And since
I was treated at Schick Shadel Hospital, there’s been scientific research demonstrating via fMRI imaging
that the treatment creates changes in craving-related brain activity.
People ask me if the treatment was hard*. The sedation treatments were wonderful. The counter
conditioning treatments (affectionately known as Duffys) were very hard. But five Duffys compared to a
lifetime of addiction? No contest. Let me repeat that: NO contest.
Will it work for you? I don’t know. Just be aware that it is an option. Remember – different strokes for
different folks. Let your gut tell you what’s right for you.
*For a detailed description of treatment at Schick Shadel Hospital, read my book—“Drink Up! How Ten
Days Ended a Lifetime of Addiction.”