THE STATE OF ADDICTION
For starters, our country has a huge f&%*ing issue with addictions, and there are a bunch of doomy stats on how horrible it’s hitting all of us as a community. Enough of that for this post, because that’s not why I took a few years of my life to put together Self Recovery. What really fueled me to do this was the fact that only 1 in 10 people with addiction are getting to any form of treatment. Even more dismal than that is a significant report that showed most treatments aren’t evidence based. Put together: nobody’s getting help, and even if you try the odds are it won’t be effective help. WTF?!!!
That’s what drives me. I’m not just disappointed by the state of addiction. It sickens me. But as motivated as I might be to care for another patient, I am just one person with one room, usually working with just one person at a time. And when my practice is full, I still get calls from prospective patients and their families with messages like this actual one:
“Hi Dr. Hochman, I’d really like to speak with you. I got out of a rehab and just relapsed. [cry] Sorry. This just isn’t working. I’m not sure how much more I have in me. Someone gave me your name because they said you can work with people who’ve been through rehabs and still help them. [long pause] Please call me…”
…and yet I had to turn her away because I simply don’t have the time as an individual psychiatrist with a small private practice.
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When I became part of the ridiculousness of this picture I knew I had to get creative. Why are we putting people on wait-lists at the most dangerous time in their lives? Why does it need to cost so much that you have to weigh whether treatment is worth your savings and then some? Why do you have to have blind faith in a recovery program that doesn’t use techniques based on any research? Why do you have to put life on hold to make the time to physically even get to care? We have to rise to the occasion. We have to be better than this.
Then one night I was up late on my computer (that’s like every night for me) and I saw an online program for learning how to day trade. While day trading was not going to become my next endeavor, I was inspired. It was my aha moment. What if we can reach anyone, anywhere, and give them the most up-to-date and proven techniques to end addiction using the power of the internet? I had my new mission.
THE NEW MISSION
Over the next year, I encountered my share of potentially mission ending questions: Can someone be helped online? What about the personal connections we all crave? Doesn’t a person need to be removed from their environment to change? How do you help someone without meeting them and knowing their personal story?
It was a challenging journey turned hopeful after learning what we now know about online learning and help, the process of change, and how we engage with technology in different ways than in person. Normally, the internet uses us. But when we use the internet, it opens up possibilities we’ve never had before. For example, I don’t have a Facebook account because I have reason to predict it will “use me” (constantly enticing me to check or write updates that I really don’t need to be doing), but I do have a cell phone because I’m fairly confident I’m “using it.”
Applying this to Self Recovery, I can tell you that it has helped many people transform because it’s online. It allows one’s mind to enter into its deepest, most private processes that we might never let someone in on if they were sitting right in front of us. We also take advantage of being online by providing the full set of techniques and tools that you would never have the chance to get to in just a 30 day program. When our path to health is bound to time off of work, travel/distance, insurance reimbursement/cost, family obligations, and time to “warm up” to a counselor, it can limit the crucial processes necessary for change.
Less than 1% of people with addiction ever get into a rehab, and the research says most of those will not provide evidence-based treatment. My field has failed you. If we can buy a lamp online the moment we decide to, we ought to have the right to also do that when it comes to looking for life help. My purpose in doing this is not to just provide help you can access, but truly transformative help built with the best approaches known in the world.