Why Not “Why”?

I have a confession to make. I do not have a back story of triumphing over addiction. Even as a teenager, I never cared for drugs in any form, they scared the daylights out me. Choked on all three of the cigarettes I tried to smoke in the name of teenage cool, so nicotine was out from the get go too. And alcohol has always been for me a take it or leave it scenerio; there is no better stress relief for me than good old fashioned, albeit hardcore, exercise in its many glorious forms. So no I don’t have the “been there, done that” anecdote to share with students. I can only imagine what it feels like to face down an addiction and everything and everyone that comes with it.

Random drug testing is a component of every recovery high school program. Even with the best of intentions, students cannot always control the “everything” and “everyone” part of addiction. More so for day program students, but even boarding students will find themselves in situations where abstaining in the face of social or peer pressure is extremely difficult. And for both groups, there are emotional situations, often family related, where coping skills just aren’t enough. Honesty is always the best way to go, students should feel safe and comfortable in admitting to a slip, a chink in the armour. The random drug test is a last resort; a way to ensure that slips are caught before they become falls. It is a necessity when we remember that all the safety nets in the world are no match for the things a relapse must make a student feel. Guilt, shame, and disappointment come to mind. We need to understand how, when, and who, so we can tighten up the recovery plan, add or modify supports to prevent repeat relapses; it has absolutely nothing to do with blame or punishment but with helping. When doing a relapse interview, I was told never to ask “why”. It’s taken me some time to understand why we don’t ask “why”. “Why” seems like the first question a logical person would ask. Could it be that “why” may be virtually impossible to answer and so serves no purpose in helping the student? Could it be that “why” can be a scapegoat for the student? An opportunity to put distance between the student and the relapse by way of the “everything” and “everyone” factors? Or perhaps “why” has so many possible answers, it would be impossible to get to the root cause anyway.

I continue to ponder the why of “why” but nonetheless respect the No Why Rule 100%. If I was a betting girl (another past time I could never get into…), I would guess that our students are the best people to explain to me the importance of the why taboo. Even with all these credentials, I have so much to learn.

Yours truly,

Eileen Shewen BSc.,MBA, PhD Founder and CEO

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One Response to Why Not “Why”?
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