Outpatient Drug Treatment and Alcohol Treatment Role

When you receive medical treatment for a problem, there are clearly defined roles between you and your medical provider. You are the patient, the passive party, who needs to be fixed. The patient is essentially powerless, and their fate is left up to the expert. The expert is the active party - and applies force to solve the patient's problem - in the form of various medicines, surgeries, and medical procedures.

This setup works great for problems that the expert is equipped to solve - broken bones, diseases, viruses, infections, etc. In these cases, only an outside force will solve the problem and is the best solution for the problem, so it makes sense for the patient to be passive. However, by nature, such roles cannot help to curb freely chosen behaviors such as drug and alcohol use. Being a patient - passive, powerless, and dependent upon outside forces for a solution - is actually counterproductive while attempting to change a behavior.

Any program which is labeled as "treatment" automatically puts people in a patient role. Any program which describes addiction as a disease, brain disease, allergy, genetic condition, or otherwise attributes addiction to biological factors beyond volition automatically, by implication, encourages people to take on the role of the patient. Any program which employs nurses, clinical psychologists and psychiatrists, and doctors, automatically places people in the patient role. It's a role we're all familiar with, and we know what to do when we're there: sit back and wait to be cured.

But what if your problem isn't a disease? What if your problem is a matter of choice? You'll wait a long time, only to be left without a cure.

If addiction is a matter of choice, then you shouldn't be pigeonholed into the subservient passive role of a patient - you should be in an active empowered role. You should be treated as if your part in solving the problem actually dwarfs that of your helpers. You shouldn't be treated as sick, insane, diseased, powerless, or Incapable of change. Your helpers should treat you as an efficacious human being, their role should not be to fix you or lay out commands for you to follow; they should be offering you the knowledge needed to make new choices and helping you to discover the options available to you.

Your Saint Jude CBE instructor will never place you in the patient role. Our instructors offer up proven ways to change a substance use problem; they see every individual as capable and efficacious; and they'll empower you to choose better options for your life than problematic levels of substance use.

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