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Relapse Prevention: A Success Story

One thing that is true in the mental health field is that there is no substitute for first hand experience and first hand success. So, when I write about issues in which I have no personal experience, this is what I am looking for. Here's a success story.

The client was an African American man in his 30s. He has a long history of drug abuse and multiple incarcerations. He has managed to overcome his addiction. And, although I was his counselor, it became clear early on that he understood substance abuse issues and relapse prevention far better than I did.

He personified his struggle with drug abuse: "(The drug) just wants you to use it and we become slaves of it when we do."

His drugs of choice were cocaine and amphetamines. For him, cocaine was his main drug. He just couldn't stop using: "I wanted to stop and I couldn't." "Cocaine is a monster drug. It will grab you like a pit bull. It will lock on you like a pit bull." "It's a cold drug."

Amphetamines were a much lesser problem for this client: "It didn't have that 'lock mechanism' that cocaine did." "It can get you hooked, though."

Amphetamines are one of the most dangerous drugs of abuse—but not for this client. Drugs affect different people differently. This client described meth as mainly "a social drug" and "a sexual drug."

There were three factors in this client's success. Each is enumerated.

First, he recognized he needed God's help: "I just couldn't do it myself." The client was a Christian.

Second, he made the effort: "You gotta really wanta stop. God's not going to do all the work himself." He described his struggle against cocaine: "It's like getting in a boxing ring. You have to stay in the ring and fight. It's going to keep attacking you." "The euphoria is so strong."

Third, he asked God to remove his cravings to use: "God gave me the strength to really fight it and then he removed (the cravings)." "God removed that desire, I didn't."

His road to sobriety was a long one. Interestingly, God removed the client's desire to use one drug at a time. After God removed his desire for cocaine, this client actually sold both cocaine and meth on the streets—but he didn't use the cocaine! Later, God removed the client's desire for meth as well.

While there are no guarantees going forward, I have high hopes for this client. He is doing well. His perspective is equally positive: "I don't have the desire to do drugs." "It's a great feeling to wake up in the morning and not have a desire to get high."

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