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Tenets of Treatment for a New Generation

By The Fix staff 03/31/21

Too often, when someone goes to treatment they’re told exactly what their recovery and their sobriety needs to look like.

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There’s not one right or wrong way to get better. Photo 31099445 © Wavebreakmedia Ltd | Dreamstime.com

Addiction is an age-old condition, but the idea of getting into recovery is a relatively new phenomenon. Sure, our parents and grandparents had the friends of Bill W. to help them get sober, but they didn’t have research-backed science. In recent years recovery professionals and people whose lives have been touched by addiction have realized that we need a more comprehensive approach: one where science meets compassion to help people have the best chance of getting and staying sober.

“It’s 2021, and we have to approach the person struggling with this disease in a different way,” says Matthew Ganem, CEO of Aftermath Addiction Treatment LLC in Wakefield, Massachusetts. 

When Ganem founded Aftermath with a group of people who were also in recovery from addiction, he vowed to create an addiction treatment facility for a new generation. He and his staff draw on their experience to help their peers succeed. Here’s what that looks like:

Ditching The One-Size-Fits-All Approach

Too often, when someone goes to treatment they’re told exactly what their recovery and their sobriety needs to look like. At Aftermath, the staff recognize that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to recovery. They’ve seen through their own experiences that there are different ways to reclaim your life from drugs or alcohol.

“There’s not one right or wrong way to get better,” Ganem says.

Aftermath offers an open-ended approach. Clients can choose abstinence, medication-assisted treatment, yoga, physical fitness or any other approach that helps them stay sober, Ganem says.

“We have many other support groups or avenues of wellness, mixed with clinical and evidence-based practices to attack the disease from numerous angles.”

In his own recovery, Ganem struggled with being told how to get sober, so he doesn’t offer prescriptive advice, but instead lets clients make changes that work for them.

“When you have a group of people trying to get better you have to approach them each as an individual,” he says.

Focusing on Connection and Compassion

At Aftermath, people in recovery are invited to learn from each other.

“It’s people who have been through the fire before and are able to show you the way out that are key,” Ganem says.

Aftermath relies on close connections between patients and staff to build trust. When people who are in treatment are handled in a dignified way, with compassion and honesty, they’re more likely to learn from those around them.

“We treat people like human beings,” Ganem says. “We support them with compassion and honesty, and try to build them up.”

Giving Autonomy to the Patient

One old saying in recovery is still relevant to the new generation seeking treatment: you are the only one who can do the hard work of your recovery.

“Essentially, it’s not us as a staff who gets anybody clean and sober,” Ganem says. “It’s the individual and how much effort they put into their recovery that will determine their results.”

That doesn’t mean you’re on your own, of course. The staff at Aftermath aim to empower clients, while helping them realize that their health and wellness are in their own hands.

“As a staff, we do our best to put them in a position to succeed. Then it’s up to them to put the action in,” he said. “We are in the trenches with them, shoulder-to-shoulder, offering support.”

Ganem, who is in recovery himself, hopes that this approach will help people who haven’t found a treatment option that resonates with them.

“If you’re struggling right now and it’s hard to find hope, give yourself the opportunity to do better,” he said. “Reach out for help, get into detox, do whatever it takes to give yourself that chance of recovery.”

He knows from personal experience just how life-changing taking that step can be.

“I promise you won’t regret it,” Ganem says. “Life is a hell of a lot better when you’re not struggling every day to get drunk or high. The fact is that you deserve to have a better life.”

Aftermath Addiction Treatment Center is a treatment center located in Wakefield, Massachusetts. Find out more here.

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