I was doing my usual thing on the world’s most famous social website the other day – just cruising along, checking out addiction recovery groups and reading peoples’ comments on the topic, when something disturbing caught my eye. So disturbing, it stopped me in my tracks and forced me to think about the true meaning of recovery. A member of one group went out of his way to post a photo of someone who works in addiction recovery and labeled this person as a murderer. He called the person a lot of other names, as well, but most of them were too obscene to repeat. You might be asking yourself why anyone would do such a thing - least of all, a recovering addict. Well, from all appearances, the poster’s hate-filled attack against this so-called “murderer” was because the counselor uses a psychology-based, non-12 Step approach to treating addiction. This alternative to most conventional programs apparently challenged the poster’s personal view of recovery. He used slander and defamation of character as ways to convince others that his view of recovery is superior. Sometimes, fire scares caveman.
So what, exactly, is recovery? That’s a tough one. Recovery means different things to different people, depending on what level of sobriety each of us has reached. Someone that quit drinking or using drugs three weeks go is just beginning to view life with a new perspective, while someone with 27 years in recovery has moved way beyond that point. Or, should have, at least. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Addiction recovery is a process. Becoming an addict doesn’t happen overnight, and neither does recovery. Many would say addiction is an incurable disease and that every addict must forever remain in a state of recovery. Others disagree and claim to have made a full recovery and are no longer an addict. While the 12 Step method is the most popular choice, many addicts have recovered using alternative approaches, such as psychotherapy, holistic healing, or even sheer willpower. The truth is, people vary, and there is no one-size-fits-all technique to beating addiction. What works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for someone else.
Therein, lies the confusion. So, how do we define recovery? Sometimes, it’s easier to define what something is by first eliminating what it is not.
Recovery is NOT –
· Criticizing another’s path to sobriety
· Claiming to be an expert about recovery, and which approach works best
· Preaching from the recovery pulpit
· Spreading resentment, anger and hate
· Beating one another over the head with our own beliefs and opinions
· Talking the talk without first walking the walk
Recovery IS –
· Acceptance of our own flaws and weaknesses, as well as those of others
· Open-mindedness to views different from our own
· Humility – one of the greatest gifts we can receive as recovering addicts, along with learning to appreciate the true meaning of words like gratitude, serenity, inner peace, and forgiveness
· Moving forward in a positive direction, while helping others do the same
· Respect - for ourselves and for others
One thing most addicts in recovery can agree with is that addiction is a cold, lonely pit of darkness, at least for those that have hit bottom. Rather than climbing over one another to escape the pit, we ought to join hands and pull one another to safety. That is the true meaning of recovery.