For anyone wondering what approach The Way Out Recovery Rehab Santa Clarita takes to drugs and treatment, an official from the organization is talking about their approach and how it compares to others taken both historically and currently.
“In my opinion, and maybe by the numbers as well, drug and alcohol and mental health issues are the biggest, most pervasive issue that we face worldwide,” said The Way Out Recovery SCV Program Director Bob Sharits. “We can learn a lot by looking back at the way that (society) has approached trying to solve the problem.”
Alcohol and drugs have been completely abolished in the past, and Sharits recalled the “war on drugs” that was declared after the appearance of cocaine in the 1980s.
“Crack was invented right around that time and it swept the nation, … so there was a lot of devastation and a lot of suffering, and a lot of people got hurt,” Sharits said. “Certainly for good reason, the approach at that time was a declaration of a war on drugs.”
Consequently, a “criminalization” of drugs took place and high sentences were issued for those convicted of drug possession, according to Sharits, who pointed out that today’s approach to drugs appears to be completely the opposite.
“The approach today is becoming more of a decriminalization,” he said, referring to recreational marijuana being legalized and hallucinogenic mushrooms being decriminalized in Denver, Colorado.
Instead of trying to “take a big stance” on how “bad, bad, bad” drugs are, Sharits continued that The Way Out Recovery SCV has instead chosen to take an approach centered around efforts to “get personal with Santa Clarita,” meaning they strive to provide community education, hold honest discussions to try and reduce the stigma, and offer treatment to anyone dealing with a substance use disorder.
“Our approach at The Way Out is more of a personal approach: one person at a time, one family at a time, one kid at a time. We want to sit down and have honest conversations about drugs,” Sharits said. “Our main focus is in helping those people who are having problems in their lives as a direct result of their drug use and still continuing to use drugs. When we take that approach, we’re not taking the approach of saying drugs are bad.”
When a person requests information about The Way Out Recovery SCV’s treatment process, Sharits said that part of their answer is, “We are going to help you explore your relationship with drugs or alcohol.”
What this means is that staff offer tools to help people achieve a period of abstinence or reduction in use, and provide support during the challenges that come with this, according to Sharits.
Someone in treatment will usually meet with staff at The Way Out Recovery SCV several times a week individually, as well as with their family or support system. During these meetings, Sharits noted that staff will help the person identify the stressors they’re facing that are “driving” their substance use.
“Those who have difficulty in stopping or reducing our use, the reason for that is because there’s always something behind it,” he explained. “So as the drugs come out of my system, whatever the stressor is in my life starts to show up bigger and bigger because I can’t suppress it with drugs.”
After identifying and addressing these driving reasons, The Way Out Recovery SCV staff will then work with the person to “find a new way of life,” according to Sharits.
“What we ultimately do is we learn to live a lifestyle that will accentuate a world of recovery, a life of recovery,” he said. “We call it a ‘lifestyle disorder’ when we’re talking about addiction, and the reason we call it that is because it requires an entire lifestyle change.”
Sharits continued, “So we are going to look at things like diet and exercise, like relationships, like prayer and meditation, like alternative methods to reduce pain issues or mental health issues or stress issues. We are going to look at all that stuff and help you with that stuff.”