Tough decisions, sad outcomes

Editor’s note: This is the second of two parts. The first was published on Dec. 29.

I have sometimes been accused of being too tough on people in group or individuals. No one has ever cared more about helping people than yours truly, however, in group, it is my classroom.

When I ask you more than once to stop the crass talking and be respectful of others speaking and treat others the way you want to be treated, and you don’t, then you are gone. Do I throw people out of REBT, yes, if the situation warrants their behavior. If they care to come back and play by the rules they are welcome, if not, find another group.

The counselors coming out of addiction, into the counseling profession knew the disease, knew that counseling was always principles over personalities, and had great passion to help their clients get better. In my opinion, the counseling was better, the clients were better, and people in recovery had better rates of recovery. Self-help (AA, NA) principles, spirituality, volunteer work, sponsorship, was time-tested and was a framework for recovery. Art therapy, music therapy, pet therapy, or just mental health counseling in chemical dependency isn’t a program because of the nature of the disease.

Counselors in chemical dependency counseling today are going to do what their agencies tell them to do. In our day, we preached “abstinence” as I still do. Many agencies preach “harm reduction,” let me explain, if your drug of choice is heroin and you are craving, you might be told “don’t do heroin, smoke a little weed because it won’t be as harmful.”

Many of these people have a degree, say in social work, and have taken a course in chemical dependency. Many have no idea that “a drug is a drug is a drug,” because of what drugs and alcohol do to the frontal lobes of the brain, draining the chemicals of norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine, it astounds me that anyone could take a recovery position like this. I’m for medically assisted support if people need them like vivatrol, soboxin, or methadone, under the care of a physician, but not letting clients relapse continually.

I’ll end with two harm reduction stories told to me by a mother, who lost her 22-year-old daughter to heroin/fentanyl, and a father who lost his 24-year old to the same drugs. Both felt that trying to get proper treatment for their kids at times was ridiculous. The hoops that they were made to jump through started with what I call “the inhuman resource people” who asked the main question “what type of insurance do you have and what’s your deductable?”

This type of thinking to bill and make sure the insurance companies pay is fine. What isn’t fine is when the insurance company says they’ll pay for 28, 40, or 60 days and then backs out as to who knows why, then a $25,000 bill comes to each of them, then we know it isn’t about the clients. Both parents sought attorneys, and both bills were quickly disposed of. It’s sad that insurance companies give bonuses for rejecting claims that they said they’d pay. Both of these places taught “harm reduction” instead of “abstinence,” and both of these children are no longer with us.

If you send me your child, or wife, or husband, abstinence is the goal. There will be pain short term for long term gain. Have a great new year and a wonderful new beginning.

Mike Tramuta has been a CASAC counselor for more than 30 years and currently runs the REBT program on Thursday nights at the Holy Trinity Parish Center from 7 to 8:15 p.m. Call 983-1592 for more information.