Wednesday, April 4, 2007

As Long as it Takes

So, I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. When you sit at home every night with an 11 week old, who for all of his endearing qualities is not much of a conversation starter, you have a lot of time for thinking. Either thinking or watching bad reruns on TV since I've canceled all of my movie channels (thanks for that Lindsay... cancel your premium channels she says).

So, thinking it is. And what I've been thinking about lately is time. Mostly the fact that everyone keeps putting a time frame on Jake's treatment. I admit when this first started I was right there with everyone else. He needs three to six months inpatient, he needs another six months outpatient, etc.

However, what I'm realizing now is Jake needs what Jake needs. And only HE knows what that is. He has agreed to transfer from MECCA to another treatment program but as of now is still focusing on time. I don't want to be there longer than x number of days. Some of his family members are falling into that same trap.

I have recently received calls asking me how long he would have to be there before I will let him come home. "Well if he goes and does an additional 30 days is that enough? You know if he at least does that you shouldn't be too hard on him. At least he's trying."

The problem is that I don't know how long Jake will have to be in treatment for before I feel comfortable letting him come home. And quite frankly at this point, neither does Jake. The fact that he is willing to transfer at all is progress. It says to me that his head is finally getting clearer and he is starting to think on his own instead of listening to all of the other people in that place.

However, I think putting a time frame on treatment is cheating everyone. Jake will have a head start on everyone when he enters treatment, he will be clean. He will have been clean for 3 1/2 weeks before he goes there. That means that maybe his stay will be a little shorter than it would have been if he had not gone there clean.

But do I know how long a little shorter or a little longer is? No. No one really does. And that is precisely my point. I don't want to quantify how long Jake "has" to be in treatment for. I don't want to do it and I don't want him or anyone else to do it either. I think everyone is focusing WAY too much on the time aspect and not nearly enough on the recovery aspect.

Jake has admitted that he is an addict. That is the first step. But it is just one step down a long and winding path. At this point I just really want everyone to stop focusing on the time continuum and start focusing on the end result. I want Jake to transfer to another facility and I want him to transfer with an open mind. Get there, work the program and see how long it takes to get better.

Maybe it will be 30 additional days. Maybe it will be 180 additional days. Whatever it is that is what I want from him for him to be able to come home. For him to be willing to stay there for as long as it takes.


OMH said...

Sounds very reasonable to me!

Your example of the first step of many is very good - because a walk (or drive) takes as long as it takes to reach your destination you cannot tell a young child it will take 5 minutes to get to the end of a path because the child may want to stop and see EVERYTHING along the way and you can not tell a RUNNER it takes 5 minutes to reach the end because for the runner it might only take 2 minutes. So as in everything we do it is what it is and takes as long as it takes.

Lynanne said...

It's so wise to look at it this way. Good for you for realizing that it's not just a matter of "doing his time." This isn't a punishment where he gets off sooner for good behavior - it’s a long term process and commitment.

He may stop active treatment at some point down the road but the process of staying clean will take a lifetime. He will always be an addict, though he may not be a user. It's wrong for anyone to pressure you to set a time for when he can come home. How can you predict where the journey will take him (or you for that matter)?

JessOlson said...

At some point it is going to come down to time. I don't think you can know the time frame now. You are right you can't put 30 days on it or 60 days on it. But my question is....

When Jake is nearing the end of his inpatient treatment the question will arise...Has he been in treatment long enough; has it worked for him; can we release him?

Then who are you going to let decide that time frame? Jake or the Doctor?

I would be afraid that any addict would only go as long as he/she needs to go to get the results he/she wants. I am not sure that they can know when they are prepared to re-enter the world of temptations.

kreints said...

I have to disagree with Jess. The adict is the only one that can say, "it is time" - the trick becomes wether or not they have given themselves enough time to become strong enough to not use again. The other thing to think about is if Jake says "it is time" because he wants to get out and use, or if he says it because he truly is believes himself ready to face the world of temptation. Addicts are very selfish people. They are number one. I think that you will know he is getting better when he can put someone before himself. That is key.

JessOlson said...

That is what I meant Katie....you explained it better than I did though.
I don't know how you can tell when Jake is saying it is time because he really thinks it is time or because he is tired of being there and just wants out.
This is why I personally would rely somewhat on what the doctor is telling me because the doctor has seen this more than I.

Krista said...

Whoever decides that he is ready to leave, I agree with you that no one can know how long that will take before he gets there. You are right, he needs to go with an open mind and the attitude that he will stay as long as it takes to become strong.

I was hoping his family were supporting this treatment, but it sounds like they are trying to enable him?

Anonymous said...

All any of us really have is time anyway. The days are going to pass one at a time. No faster No slower. I am glad that Jake is agreeing to go. He needs to be central in this decision making process. Nothing good will come of his treatment, no matter how long he is there, if everything is decided FOR him. He must make these decisions for himself. Ultimately, as incredibly scary as it is, Jake is in control of his time, his recovery, in treatment, but more importantly when he is out.

Heather, you are a wonderful example of being there "through sickness and health" and I particularly like your reference to the Rascal Flatts song. You are truly special. Only you know when enough is enough, and until then, continue to give it hell.

One final thought,

It sounds like everyone is concerned with Jake wanting to exit the program ASAP, if Jake is as much of an addict as it sounds like, when the time comes for him to leave, he will most likely be scared to death. He will learn to feel safe in treatment. Zero temptation. The tricky part may be helping him to feel strong enough to come home.

My thoughts are with you - M