When we think of Pesach, the theme that emerges is: “We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.” As slaves, we endured years of torture and hardship, with no choice but to obey the edicts of the Pharaoh. In essence, we were powerless. Those addicted to either drugs, alcohol or a behaviour (think gaming, gambling) are slaves as well. They are chained to a disease that has control over their lives – their brain has been kidnapped into thinking “this is what I need to live, to survive.” They no longer have freedom. Often, the notion that they can break free is beyond what they can envision.
When the Jews left Egypt, their days in the desert were a struggle. Some wondered why they left what they knew for the unknown. Yet, here they were. With manna for food, a cloud for protection, they wandered for 40 years: a long, hard journey to learn how to live with their new-found freedom.
When someone initially breaks the chains of addiction, the struggles they face are no less daunting. There is fear, a sense of loss; a feeling of, will this work? Can I be successful? Will I be better off? In essence, they can feel like they are in a desert.
To assist individuals in the precarious time of new-found freedom, JACS Vancouver has launched the Sustaining Recovery program: a wrap-around service that supports clients with individual counseling, assessment and program planning.
Working with our client, we together build and implement a personalized set of supports and tools that focus on where they are in their journey, and what specific supports they need. When the opportunity arises, we help them focus on identifying the forces, triggers and/or messages that are beneath the surface of their addiction. They learn how to make different choices, where to go for help and how to recognize that life is better, health is possible.
The path to freedom, as our ancestors found out, was not easy – nor is it for those wanting to sustain recovery from addiction. With personal willingness and commitment, and solid and constant support, success and a purposeful life is within reach.
Shelley Karrel is a registered clinical counselor, and is manager of counseling and community education at JACS Vancouver. For more information about JACS, contact [email protected].