What is Addiction Recovery?

643393b596820270e5b9a1926ee49d83“There’s a peculiar thing that happens every time you get clean. You go through this sensation of rebirth. There’s something intoxicating about the process of the comeback, and that becomes an element in the whole cycle of addiction. Once you’ve beaten yourself down with cocaine and heroin, and you manage to stop and walk out of the muck you begin to get your mind and body strong and reconnect with your spirit. The oppressive feeling of being a slave to the drugs is still in your mind, so by comparison, you feel phenomenal. You’re happy to be alive, smelling the air and seeing the beauty around you…You have a choice of what to do. So you experience this jolt of joy that you’re not where you came from and that in and of itself is a tricky thing to stop doing. Somewhere in the back of your mind, you know that every time you get clean, you’ll have this great new feeling.

Cut to: a year later, when you’ve forgotten how bad it was and you don’t have that pink-cloud sensation of being newly sober. When I look back, I see why these vicious cycles can develop in someone who’s been sober for a long time and then relapses and doesn’t want to stay out there using, doesn’t want to die, but isn’t taking the full measure to get well again. There’s a concept in recovery that says ‘Half-measures avail us nothing.’

When you have a disease, you can’t take half the process of getting well and think you’re going to get half well; you do half the process of getting well, you’re not going to get well at all, and you’ll go back to where you came from. Without a thorough transformation, you’re the same guy, and the same guy does the same shit. I kept half-measuring it, thinking I was going to at least get something out of this deal, and I kept getting nothing out of it”     Anthony Kiedis

1.From as Sick as Our Secrets:

“Addiction is all about secrets.  By the same token, recovery is about letting sunshine and fresh air into the hidden corners of our souls.  In addiction we build ourselves a little fantasy world, a totally imaginary place where we go to hide when we act out.

It doesn’t matter if we are alcoholics who seek solace and solitude in a bottle, food addicts who attempt to control our little world by controlling our bodies, shopping addicts who imagine that if we only have that one special thing we’ll be happy, or sex addicts who search for love and solace in porn, online chat rooms or massage parlors.  However we set up these magical places in our lives, we do so in secrecy.  Even if we brag about how much we can (insert behavior here), we don’t want others to know how important acting out is to us, or exactly what we do. We don’t want to admit that we are trapped.”

2. From The gifts of time: Understanding and growth beyond addiction:

I have a problem with the term recovery. For many of us recovery implies that there once was a wholeness that was shattered through addiction, a wholeness that we need to recover, find again. I have toyed with the word restoration, but likewise, often there is little to restore. For many of us, our lives before addiction were never anything but shattered and disconnected. Yet this disconnection, these lives shattered, are the points of departure on our journey through life forward. Therefore we need to learn how to navigate from there, not back to a distant past, but to a future yet unknown to us.

Still, we have to come to terms with our past. We long for an understanding and for a meaning of our lives.

This writing is inspired by a fellow reader here who some months ago claimed in anguish: Do I have to continue to live with this shit? This shit in the basement that keeps thrusting its ugly head up into my consciousness here and now. My answer is yes. We have to live with the ogres from our past, named shame and guilt and regret and sorrow. But let me also share my contemplations on the concept of time.

3. From “Why I Found Comfort in Letting Go of Fellowships”:

I broke free and started on a holistic path to recovery. Initially I was terrified because we’re told, if we stop attending meetings, we’ll relapse. But it turned out to be the most freeing thing I’ve ever done. And in many respects, my recovery has been enhanced by breaking out of that mold, trying alternative modalities and looking at my recovery holistically.

That said, throughout my journey over the last five years, there’ve been a number of issues which repeatedly presented themselves that I couldn’t seem to get a hold on. Specifically, how I should act in an intimate relationship. A friend suggested I check out ACA (Adult Children of Alcoholics). I balked. I kept balking for five years.

But when I reached a unbearable place of pain in a relationship, I decided to put my differences with the 12 Steps aside and check out ACA. Within that fellowship, there’s a list of traits adult children of alcoholics display throughout their lives. They’re so identifiable within my personality, just reading them terrified me. These traits are family of origin issues, and are often the root cause of substance abuse.

While I attended ACA meetings, I continued to struggle with my position on the 12 Steps – particularly around family of origin issues. I didn’t want to work The Steps, because I think they’re outdated and because I don’t want to share my darkest, most traumatic experiences with someone who isn’t a trained professional.

Photo credit.

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