This morning news broke that the 400m world champion, golden medalist and record holder, Wade van Niekerk has torn a ligament in his knee and is starting with a rehabilitation process today! Hope to see you back in form in 12 months Wade….good luck with all the hard work ahead of you!
That word rehabilitation…so well understood in sporting terms, agriculture and nature conservation, but when a charity grabs hold of it, it seems like it gets mystic special powers, as if we now need to engage with it completely differently!
Corbett & Fikkert (2009) say that “once the relief efforts have stopped the bleeding, it is time to move quickly into rehabilitation.” The word rehabilitation sounds fancy, but literally is just the action of restoring something that has been damaged to its former condition. Wade’s knee, a sand dune…whatever has been damaged. The success of any rehabilitation process depends on two variables: the correct assessment of the problem and the participation of the subject in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the rehabilitation programme. For Wade van Niekerk, this means knowing that it is a torn cross knee ligament and for him to be actively participating with his team of experts that will design his programme…he will be key to let them know what will work within his daily routine, how certain pain medicine might effect his focus and how much pain he can endure. With guidance from the experts, ultimately he must guide them with how the process will be implemented, and be an active participant in the monitoring and evaluation by giving accurate feedback to the team in order to either slow down, speed up or change the design of the programme for optimal restoration.
I was recently approached by a mother to help her son, addicted to methamphetamines to urgently be placed in a drug rehabilitation center. Even though I used to refer many young people to rehab, this was the first time in six years that I would do it again. I forgot what a thrill it is to do this….find the guy, know that you have a small window of opportunity to use your best sales tricks to convince him…then the anticipation of will he change his mind on his way there…the relief when you walk in at the rehab gates, and the release of endorphins when you walk out alone knowing that you have saved someone! And then the blessed double release, when you go and collect them and they are changed! I stopped doing this six years ago, because I realized that all the people I took, would be back on drugs within 2 – 45 days after this ‘major change’, and I started questioning the whole process. But for this mother I was willing to do it….maybe because I forgot my own experiences, or because of the desperation in her eyes. At least with her son in rehab, she could sleep again for six weeks. Yet the outcome was no different…after only five days of being back the guy was back in the grips of addiction.
We are doing rehab backwards! Has anyone accurately assessed what the problem is? Has it not crossed your mind that it was his former state that led him to his addiction, and thus just to restore him to that will not help? This is
not rocket science! How much was he part of the design of his own process, how much say did he have in the implementation of the process and what platforms were created, with him, to provide accurate feedback? None! Instead he was placed in a one-size-fits-all programme, that maybe fits a few by chance, but is either too small or too big for most. And this is not a drug rehabilitation thing, this is a charities and intervention thing. There is a better way!
Then just tell us…what is this better way? Be patient, we are getting there, but for now it is only to question, assess and try to understand.
PS: for more on understanding drug addiction better, look at the following brilliant TedTalk – https://www.ted.com/talks/johann_hari_everything_you_think_you_know_about_addiction_is_wrong?utm_campaign=tedspread–b&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=tedcomshare