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The Jellinek Curve

“I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulge. It has not been in the pursuit of pleasure that I have periled life and reputation and reason. It has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness and a dread of some strange impending doom. ” ? Edgar Allan Poe Introduction The researcher’s method for choosing the addiction group to participate in was based on the convenience and access to the addiction group. The researcher recently began an internship at the Weingart Center Association.

This Weingart Center Association has numerous programs that are centered on the homeless population. One such program, The Matrix Program, is a comprehensive, evidence-based program comprising of 16 weeks of intensive group and individualized sessions. The purpose of this group is to teach its group members’ about the stages of recovery from addiction. The focus of the group is on relapse prevention methods, individual therapy procedures, family system materials, and Twelve Step involvement, and urine testing. The researcher was able to participate in six different sessions.

However, the researcher will elaborate on her first session with the group (Weingart Center Association, 2015). Group Details The main demographic who are living at the Weingart Center Association are African American. However, there are individuals who are White, Hispanic, and Asian as well. The members who are attending the Matrix program have had colorful backgrounds, and have come from all walks of life. The group meeting is held every day, Monday through Friday, from 9:00 am to 10:00 am. As each member enters the group meeting, there is a sign in sheet.

Often times, there are treats for them to eat during the group. The topic of the first session was on truthfulness, and how it relates to individuals being honest with both themselves and others about their recovery process. The Substance Abuse counselor used interventions such as motivational learning, CBT, problem solving, and Psychodynamic Approach. As the researcher participated in the group, she observed that there were some “significant moments” or “emotional shifts” that occurred when several group members shared their own story.

These moments were essential, creating connections, inspiring other group members to either share their own story or to not feel alone. The researcher would like to discuss three individuals whose stories impacted the group. The researcher wants to indicate that she is aware that these stories are personal, and that she must provide confidentiality. For this reason, the names have been changed for the protection of all individuals. Group Members’ Stories The first “significant moment” or “emotional shift “recorded by the researcher was when Sally Henderson depicted time when she was struggling with her addiction.

She expressed that her struggle provoked feelings of “hopelessness” and “worthlessness”. As a result, she would become frustrated, as well as overwhelmed, when thinking about overcoming her addiction. Thus, she would ask herself, “why is this happening to me? ” She felt that her drug addiction derived from painful experiences in her childhood. She began by sharing that she was raised in Nashville, Tennessee. She reported that she came from a low socioeconomic status family. She disclosed that her parents had a total of 3 children; Omar, Shawn, and Sally.

From an early age, she was taught that she needed to be perfect. Furthermore, she was also taught that it was not appropriate to show emotion (Henderson, Personal Statement, and January 18, 2016). She indicated that her mother was neglectful, while her father was physically and verbally abusive. Sadly, she disclosed that her parents were very poor. Consequently, she had never experienced “the good life”. At age 15, she decided to run away. For one year, she went from one friend’s house to the next. Soon after, she became homeless.

During this time, she had engaged in prostitution, drug dealing, shoplifting, and other criminal activities. She stated, “I was in that lifestyle on and off for the next 15 years, until it nearly killed me” (Henderson, Personal Statement, and January 18, 2016). Her story inspired another group member, Lee Thomas, to share his own story. Lee was raised in Riverside, California. He came from a family of three brothers and one sister. He communicated that he had no support systems growing up. As a result, he turned to a gang to help him cope with his teenage years.

He claimed that it was in the gang where he learned to “commit crimes, use drugs, and fend for himself” (Thomas, Personal Statement, and January 18, 2016). Now, having been out of prison for a couple of years, he feels that the hardest part about having an addiction are the stereotypes that come this with it. He stated that he has already encountered several individuals who have judged him, without even knowing him. He explained that the reason he would sometimes relapse would be because of the judgement he would receive from other people.

He admitted that doing drugs was the only way he could deal with their judgement, along with the “mess I created” (Thomas, Personal Statement, and January 18, 2016). There was emotional shift when he said, “I was someone in there (prison), but am no one out here” (Thomas, Personal Statement, and January 18, 2016). He continued by strongly stating, “What is the point of trying to quit your addiction, when nothing else works out” (Thomas, Personal Statement, and January 18, 2016). This story was very powerful, and evoked emotion from each member of the group.

One such member, Jackie Flower, began to cry. The researcher found this group member to be fascinating to watch. For the first 30 minutes of the meeting, she exhibited hostile behavior. The researcher identified specific body language; furrowed brow, clinch fists, indirect eye contact, and tense muscles in her face, all of which confirmed her anger, skepticism, and antagonistic behavior. After listening to these other two stories, she broke down and cried. She shouted out, “some people can’t be honest with themselves and so I don’t fuck with them”.

She articulated how much she hated people who were not honest with themselves or others about their addiction. This brought her to the beginning of her story. She disclosed that she was raised in Tampa, Florida. She came from a middle-class family. She revealed that her mother was extremely critical, and oftentimes was emotionally abusive. Unfortunately, her father never saw this abuse because he worked 70 hours a week, and was never home. For this reason, she expressed that she never felt worthy of her mother’s love. A few years later, at age 12, she developed an eating disorder.

She confessed to also being heavily dependent on alcohol. When alcohol was not able to help her cope with her stressful environment, she turned to drugs. She exposed that her choice of drug was crack/cocaine. Subsequently, these decisions lead her to becoming involved in an abusive relationship. Regrettably, she did not leave that relationship until she ended up in the hospital after being severely abused by her boyfriend. After her recovery, she bought a bus ticket to southern California. It was here that she became homeless on skid row, and has been here ever since.

The researcher identified a sense of connection within the group as they related to these stories. This connection appeared to be on a level that no one on the outside looking in could be a part of. The researcher concluded that these three individuals; in regards to the stages of change, were in a state of contemplation. This stage comprises of; actively weighing the pros and cons to changing their addiction, having an increased recognition of their addiction, being ambivalent about changing, and being more distressed and troubled with the issue (Fields, Personal Statement, and January 21, 2016).

Jellinek Curve The researcher would like to discuss the correlation between the group member’s statements and the Jellinek Curve. The Jellinek Curve has four defining stages; using, transition, early recovery, and on-going recovery. As the researcher participated in the Matrix group, there were several themes in the stories presented that coincided with the Jellinek Curve. The first theme, individuals use their drug of choice to relieve stressful life-events. The second theme, individuals will continue to use their drug of choice, and become tolerant, regardless of negative consequences.

The third theme, individuals will be consumed by their drug of choice where it enters their every thought, provokes their every behavior, and becomes the culprit of every consequence. Fourth, individuals will allow the drug of choice to continue to drag them through vicious cycles until they are beaten (Fields, Personal Statement, and January 28, 2016). Thoughts on 12-Step Program The researcher believes that 12-step programs can be an effective tool for supporting individuals through their recovery process.

The researcher feels that the structure, as well as the conception of relying on a higher power beyond their own control, gives individuals an inner strength that helps them overcome their addiction. However, the researcher believes that the higher power does not necessarily have to be God. The researcher is unsure about using God, and religious concepts, as the driving force in the 12-step program. While the researcher is not very religious herself, she agrees with some of the 12-steps in this program.

The researcher believes that the fourth is vital in the recovery process. This step requires each member to be honest with themselves and others about their addiction (Blum, 2013). As they are able to be honest with themselves, they will have to look inward recognizing past experiences where they have felt “anger, guilt, and embarrassment as a result of their addiction” (Blum, 2013, p. 86). This is an important aspect that allows members to become aware of the damage their addiction has inflicted on their lives.

Another strength of the 12-step program, is that it provides members with the opportunity to listen to other stories similar to their own. The concept of getting together as a group, and bonding through each other’s stories, allows individuals to not feel alone. By showing individuals that they are not alone, they will have more success in working through their recovery process. While the researcher believes that these factors are essential in aiding individuals with their recovery, it is their willingness to change their behavior that supersedes all else.

Conclusion Individuals who fall victim to addiction will not only undergo psychological, emotional, and physical trauma. They will also suffer secondary consequences such as leaving their homes, leaving their jobs, and leaving their families. Survivors will recover in their own unique way. It is our responsibility as civilians, facilitating professionals, and government agents, to address the addictive behaviors from a compassionate, theoretical, and person-centered approach.

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