Embracing the culture of recovery

Recovering people around the country are advocating for recovery. Some in big, high profile ways and others in smaller, quiet ways, but we all seem to be organizing around the same fundamental messages. Here’s Joe Showalter from Crawfordsville, Indiana:

It has been said that addiction is a cunning enemy of life. (NA world Services) We all know people suffering from drug or alcohol addiction.

Many of us know several people who have attempted to recover from addiction with varying degrees of success. Somehow, though, unsuccessful attempts at recovery seem to garner more attention. Why do so many people return to active addiction after initially addressing their problem and receiving help? Were they unmotivated, unconvinced, under-treated or too far gone? A lot of the conventional wisdom concerning recovery from addiction seems to suggest that a person must hit some terrible ³bottom² before they are amenable to recovery. Often, this ³hitting bottom² entails the loss of the very resources needed to formulate a healthy recovery. Addiction gets progressively worse as it endures and it creates lies about itself along the way. Alcoholism and Addiction have been called the only diseases that tell you, you don¹t have it. I¹m sure many have watched abuse turn to addiction and wondered why the afflicted person doesn¹t appear to believe anything is wrong. Nobody wants to be an alcoholic or an addict. We don¹t want our loved ones to have ³those² problems. That is the very distortion of perception that allows the disease to progress untreated for so long and for so many.

The news is not all grim though. Recovery is possible. It happens all around us. Millions of Americans are in recovery from alcoholism and addiction. Just like the varying degrees of severity present in the problem, there are varying degrees of success and happiness in recovery.

One of the great hurdles springs from the fact that addiction becomes a lifestyle. Like any lifestyle, alcoholism and addiction become a culture unto themselves. This culture, complete with rituals, ceremonies and celebrations, dominates the social, leisure and community lives of those involved with it. A person who begins to seriously address the need for recovery often experiences a kind of ³culture shock². No longer is it safe to socialize in the same places, with the same people or in the same way.

Newly recovering people suddenly look up and they don¹t recognize their own lives. Boredom and isolation are very real enemies of recovery. It takes effort and dedication to reinvent a lifestyle. Fortunately those of us in recovery are not alone on this adventure.

There are many people in this community who have found a new way of life. Often we are where you might not expect to find us. We are in your church (maybe the basement), we are your co-workers, we¹re at the family reunion, the park, the theater, the concert, or maybe wandering the trails at Shades. We are taking an art class, a college course or shopping your garage sale. Many of us have found recovery through a variety of avenues. Support groups are well attended in C¹ville. Many seek help from our faith communities, and many thoughtful and caring professionals provide assistance. A lot of us find our way to recovery by making big mistakes and being held accountable for those mistakes. Our community is graced with a criminal justice system that understands the role addiction plays in the bad decisions that result in criminal behavior. Many alcoholics and addicts have their first exposure to recovery with firm encouragement from the legal system. One thing we all have in common is the need to abandon the culture of addiction and embrace the culture of recovery.

The culture of recovery is an adventure indeed. Social skills have to be re-learned without drugs or alcohol. Interests often have to be developed from scratch. Time management becomes a new concept for a lot of us. Courage to try new things and meet new people is different when your life depends upon it. A culture of recovery is not doing the same old things without the alcohol and drugs. A culture of recovery is about becoming excited about life. It is about rejoining the community and becoming a contributing member of society. When the dust settles we often wonder where we found the time to abuse alcohol and drugs. We begin to see new possibilities and discover a joy that few experience. It makes us want to give what we have found to others who want it. Truly we see that Fun Has Been Redefined.

3 thoughts on “Embracing the culture of recovery

  1. Wow. What a post with a lot of thought put into it. I do think that people usually have to hit some kind of a bottom in order to get on the road to recovery. At least that is what had to happen for me. And you’re right. I lost most of my resources that would have given me the ability to recover. Fortunately the road to recovery was a little more simple than I would have thought. I really just thought I was losing my mind but when I found out through a 30 day in-patient treatment program that I was just suffering from chemical dependency – I was on my way to recovery! I guess I just did not want to think that addiction was my problem. I had no idea. I was going insane. After treatent and an introduction to 12 step meetings, I soon regained my sanity. The meetings helped. They helped a lot. I was able to stay in touch with reality as much as I wanted to with the availability of several meetings a day where I lived. I started to make a lot of friends in recovery and learned that I NEEDED to stay away from my OLD friends. That was crucial. Some people think that they can still hang out with their old friends and just not drink or use. And maybe they would have a positive influence on them. But what usually happens is that person ends up getting influenced more by their old friends. Inevitably they start to feel left out and isolated big time. Then just like a text book case they go back out. So I would say who you hang around is going to have the biggest impact on your recovery. You still need friends and you need them now more than ever. It can be hard to grasp the concept that addiction is a disease, but if you treat it like that you will do good. You’re right – the news is not all grim and Recovery is possible. I’m not sure why some people get better and some don’t. I just know that I no longer wanted to go back to my old way of living because once I had a good taste of sobriety, I really liked feeling good. Who wants to walk around in a fog of insanity all the time? Best wishes to all those in recovery.Recovery Dudehttp://www.RecoveryTalk.org

  2. Thank you for sharing a beautifully written article. I hit my emotional bottom almost 15 years ago and with the help of many caring friends I’ve maintained my sobriety one day at a time. I wasn’t able to change until I became willing and it’s that willingness that continues to keep me sober today.It takes courage to ask for help. If you’re reading this and you need some extra courage, feel free to borrow some of mine.-Graciewww.SunlightOfTheSpirit.comwww.SoberCafePodcast.com

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