Now, mind you, that wasn't 38 years straight. For some 16 years of that time I was a ward of the state.. I was locked up periodically for possession and other crimes that go with using. And one of those years I spent in a State Hospital in Norwalk, California.
I bring this up because when we first started the outpatient clinic I was sometimes dismayed at the way clients acted. They would lie. Cheat. Steal. Break curfew and every other rule. Give us dirty UAs. I wondered why they were even there.
Then one day I realized I behaved the same way when I was in my twenties. I lied about everything. Stole. Cheated. During those years I - like many of our clients - was my own worst enemy.
Once I recognized myself in these young clients I developed a lot more patience. More tolerance. I'm much more willing to give a client who screws up another chance.
Today I realize it takes a certain amount of pain before we're motivated to change. I can only hope and pray that our clients last long enough to get the message.