Addiction Treatment: Release the Creativity!

There’s an old adage, “You know, alcoholics/addicts can be the most sensitive, vulnerable, creative, passionate, innovative and kind people I know when they’re not that, “other way”.”

It’s absolutely true in my experience–my dearly departed Dad, for one. The trick is for the person who is suffering from the chronic relapsing disease of addiction to get treated and stay in treatment until it’s no longer necessary and presently, that means for life.

I’ve read estimates that we have 23 million people in this nation who are practicing sober lifestyles and another 23 million who remain “out there” in active addiction. I’ll bet that’s a conservative estimate for the outlyers, but certainly a very substantial number.

The central implication of these large and growing numbers for me, is that we have a veritable untapped army of people in our nation who are waiting in the wings to bring their creativity, productivity and gifts to society. The sad truth is that only 3% (another estimate) ever receive proper treatment and 85% (yep…) of that 3% return to the vicious cycle of active addiction because they do not remain in treatment, and because our aftercare treatment programs are presently, weak at best.

Imagine another 23 million Americans surrendering to win back their lives of peace, joy and productivity by taking a look at how they’re taking a look at their lives. Members of our communities who are actively working on being open, willing and honest about improving their ways of being because it doesn’t really work any other way for an individual in recovery. Imagine the impact on 23 million families, work environments and society at large.

I regularly imagine re-visioning addiction as a transformational process to invite people to further understand why they were born, what their life’s work is and as a portal of entry–a threshold to pass through in order to develop a clear life’s purpose and vision. Well, it doesn’t always look that way from the start, but every person in long-term recovery I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting concurs, it’s the only way to go. Like the big wave surfers say, “Brah, if you don’t go, you won’t know.”

There is an army of creative people out there who are eligible to sign up for education and treatment for addiction recovery and a way to practice long–term care. Let’s recruit all of our resources and collaborative efforts to stop the war on drugs and while we’re at it–the war on anything–and instead deploy this army of creativity back into society to wage peace, prosperity and wellness for this short and precious lifetime of ours.

Dr. Herby Bell is a Recovery and Wellness Coach and owner of Recovery Health Care, an integrated approach to wellness and addiction recovery in Saratoga, California. For more information please call 650 474 9411 or Email:  Connect with me online too:  Facebook | Twitter | Linkedin

Join the discussion 10 Comments

  • Hi Herby,

    Love your inspiration! We do often forget that people are people regardless of their afflictions. The addiction masks all the goodness that is just underneath the surface. Our aftercare treatment programs definitely need more. With so much potential for people in recovery, we all can come together and make a difference. Thank you.
    Cathy Taughinbaugh Wants You To Read…Substance Abuse Research That Makes a DifferenceMy Profile

  • Herby, a great reminder for people to back up, if they can, and look at the big picture of why they were put on this earth and therefore what unique gift they, and only they, can bring it. That their addiction and recovery can actually make them clearer and stronger for that mission.

    Truly motivating and inspiring, and I wish more people could hear it. Yes, it is heartbreaking that many folks aren’t able to live out their full potential. Thanks for YOUR creativity Herby!!

  • Love your call to action, Herby, and I love the empowering way you’ve described the addicts | alcoholics who are active in their disease, “… we have a veritable untapped army of people in our nation who are waiting in the wings to bring their creativity, productivity and gifts to society.” Thank you for the wonderful work you are doing to raise awareness about LONG-TERM recovery – the key, 3rd phase in the effective treatment of addiction.
    Lisa Frederiksen – Wants You To Read…Matthew Perry and All Rise Advocate for Drug CourtsMy Profile

    • HerbyBell says:


      As we work collaboratively to deliver, “effective treatment of addiction” I am so very grateful to know you and your essential work in prevention and education for individuals, families and communities, so profoundly affected by addiction.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Lisa.
      HerbyBell Wants You To Read…Addiction Recovery: A Wild Child RideMy Profile

  • Jody Lamb says:

    Hi Herby,

    Aah, this is so true and so awesome.

    Most people don’t understand addiction. They think if we are able to rid the world of all drugs (I suppose this would also include alcohol and prescription drugs), then the problem is solved…people just won’t have any drugs to do. People don’t recognize that the root of the problem is the people using the drugs. The realistic and effective solution is to reach the people long before they’re trapped in addiction. That’s why I’m so motivated to reach kids and teens so they can get help to heal from their pain before they turn to drugs as a way to relieve themselves of the pain.

    Let’s go – let’s spread the message.
    Jody Lamb Wants You To Read…What to do when you realize people around you are nutsMy Profile

    • HerbyBell says:


      You’ve struck a truth and set of memories for me. I’m harkening back to my “phased”, progressive understanding of addiction first with my Dad, then my own journey and as it often goes, with my son’s experience.

      For so many years it was just what you write–lose the drugs, lose the addiction. What a claptrap.

      Your motivational, practical and most effective work in reaching kids and teens is spectacular and surely what the world needs NOW–because it need not take three generations to fully understand this deadly disease.

      Thank you, Jody and I’m all IN. Let’s Roll.
      HerbyBell Wants You To Read…Addiction Recovery: A Wild Child RideMy Profile

  • Hi Herby!
    Sure appreciate your easy-flowin’ writing style – and from-the-heart enthusiasm. It’s been almost 29 years since I lived the “other way,” and I’ve never looked back. My alcoholism, as well as my anxiety/mood experience, were the catalysts for returning to school and earning my counseling credentials. Very much about giving back – and all the more appreciating and enhancing my personal journey. Thank you for the article – and your good work…
    Bill White, MS, LLPC Wants You To Read…Are You Depressed? Oppressive Fear and Anxiety? Happy Independence Day!My Profile

    • HerbyBell says:


      What a wonderful way to frame it–the catalysts for returning to school– in the metaphorical sense. You are a Spartan and a gentleman to offer such a generous comment. Thank YOU for offering such insight and personal experience to your important work. Much appreciated, Bill!
      HerbyBell Wants You To Read…Addiction Recovery: A Wild Child RideMy Profile

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