There is nothing special about substance use, and this article deliberately refrains from terminology like ‘addiction, dependence and misuse’. Of course the individual requires support – and at times considerable support – however that is common to all relationship issues. For the drugs professional to make a monster out of it is one of the gravest mistakes in the field of substance use.
There is no simple intervention that has been devised to date to stop an individual from using substances, because substance use is ultimately based on the choice of the individual. There is a limited chance of an individual making changes to his or her life if they are unable learn and understand the very personal and intimate relationship they have formed with substance use – the same as for any individual looking to address any issue. Hence, is it surprising that some clients return over and over again to services if they believe themselves to be a slave and powerless to addiction?
The Resonance Factor model was created with this in mind. The central focus is the exploration of the user’s relationship with their drug of choice, which includes revisiting the discovery of that drug and the experience of the high – a pharmacological fact that tells us that drugs and alcohol affect each individual differently. This enables the service user to consider how they use drugs and alcohol to change the way they think, feel and behave, and who they become when they have used. Let us not believe the ‘defensive’ nonsense of a client who says ‘I enjoyed substances when I first used them but I haven’t enjoyed them for the last ten years!’ In all honesty, does that make sense? If you believe the client to be an addict, sick, ill and the like then it makes perfect sense, but if you wish to understand substance use more deeply and understand the ‘wow’ factor of it all, then ‘I don’t like substances any more’ would not make sense.
The Resonance Factor does not avoid the issues that may have prompted the service user to access treatment – health problems, loss of relationships or children, housing, employment. These form the central platform of our therapeutic work with the client. It does, however, consider these issues to be pathways to and from the central issue that is the pursuit of the high. This singular pursuit, often maintained for many years, becomes the most important relationship for the drug or alcohol user, and is therefore the primary focus of the approach.
For the substance user to use at the expense of everything else, he or she has to create justifications, and maybe more thought and consideration should be given to that. The Resonance Factor is an approach that asks the service user to discover their accountability, while empowering them to make new choices.