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Atwater: Half measures will get you nothing

Maureen was never too sure about certain things. For instance, she would readily admit she “sorta” had a drug problem. She would glance guiltily at you and acknowledge she drank too much and her “partying” had to stop. She knew hanging around with people who had histories of drug, alcohol and legal problems would result in using drugs. Yet she persisted.

Maureen’s mom and dad cared greatly for her and her well-being and surmised she had low self-esteem. Because of this, she associated with “the wrong kind of people,” and it was peer pressure that caused her to continually slip back to her drug and alcohol use. In fact, many parents wouldn’t let their kids hang around with Maureen.

Maureen had been to “a program” for kids who abused drugs several years ago, but she never used the words “addict” or “recovery.” She learned about “her issues” and the physiology of substance abuse, but she found a way to avoid any direct reference to abstaining. Maureen slid through treatment with a complex combination of avoidance, compliance and outright lying. She managed to stay in her fantasy land, keeping everybody else out. She erected a rubber fence around her way of thinking that contracted to absorb new ideas and pressures to recover but snapped immediately back into place as the pressure subsided.

Maureen went to AA and NA meetings diligently – for a week – and “sorta” worked the steps. She even “sorta” got a sponsor. Maureen’s idea of a sponsor was another girl she met in rehab who was the sister of a person she partied with. Maureen’s “sponsor” had about two weeks of clean time and saw no reason not to drink as she was clear her problem was only cocaine. Unfortunately, she wouldn’t have known the first step if she tripped on it.

Maureen never really conceived of herself as a person with a problem but went with the flow thinking it would all blow over and she could get back to “normal.” The last time I heard from Maureen, she wasn’t living at home anymore and she had “sorta” gotten arrested for selling drugs to an undercover officer.

As the saying goes in the recovering community, “Half measures will get you nothing.”

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