Ping Pong Treatment
Cindy Hardy ❘
Ping pong treatment is a term used to describe what happens when a patient bounces back and forth between addiction and mental health treatment.
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Recently, our blog posts have been exploring the addiction model as a stool with four legs. The four legs supporting that stool are anxiety, shame, trauma, and finally connection. This week we will explore the importance of connection, the dangers of lack of connection, and why the recovery connection is such an integral part of sober living.
Each week I have the privilege of hosting a podcast with my good friend in recovery, author and speaker Nate Larkin. The show is entitled, The Positive Sobriety Podcast. You can find it on iTunes or a number of other podcast outlets. We like to not only talk with our guests about what life was like in active addiction but most of all what life is like now, how our guests find themselves investing themselves today and what had to change in order for that transition to become a reality.
For most of our guests, isolation and connection eventually make their way into the discussion because that is where they finally surrendered their personas and took the chance on truly being known. When we give up our relationship with a substance or a behavior we have to replace it with something. Relationships with wise people who are a little ahead of us on the recovery path can be the conduit to the relational freedom we only dreamed about when we were steeped in our isolation and sickness.
The opposite of addiction is not sobriety or recovery. It is connection!
Once we begin to disclose our secrets and dare to risk trusting others our ability to experience joy, creativity, and connection slowly begins to return to us as the prefrontal cortex of the brain comes back to life. We are finally willing and able to reach out to another living soul and speak the truth and even experience joy in the process.
You have options. Talk about them with a treatment provider today.
So, where do we begin with this brave journey of vulnerability and letting others in to our reality? How do we go from a brain that is triggered with messages of anxiety, fear, and shame to a brain that can experience the neurology of joy and the benefits of knowing and being known by others?
Our brains release chemicals when we are experiencing anxiety and stress, and they also produce chemicals when we are engaged, physically active, and experiencing joy. Those “happy” chemicals can be the difference between giving in to the impulse to use or being able to step into community with others and embrace their wisdom and input.
At some point, we all must learn to trust if we are going to experience long term sobriety. We must always exercise wisdom in deciding who those trusted friends will be, but we must all experience the risk of trusting another living soul with our story.
Connection with a Higher Power, an honest relationship with ourselves, and the joy of sharing and experiencing the stories with our fellow path-walkers will be the biggest investment we make in our recovery journey. The benefits of knowing and being known are worth the risk of diving in to a community of people who have “been there” and are actually eagerly waiting on us to join them.
A survivor of addiction himself, David Hampton is a Certified Professional Recovery Coach (CPRC) and a member of the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC).