“Addicts are not problems to be solved, but people to be loved.”
The Reality of Recovery…
Here’s a hard truth: you are either working on recovery or working on a relapse. Addiction is a vicious disease. It becomes a part of you. The choice becomes whether it consumes you or improves you. And healing involves developing a battle strategy that supports you as a recovery warrior.
No human remains the same over the years, and a thriving warrior must continue to reevaluate their battle strategy as they progress in recovery.
Those in treatment are often armored with steps and strategies that are essential in the healing process. While learning to live with addiction, these strategy readjustments become a chance for the warrior to keep control.
Unfortunately, the reality of recovery includes the likelihood of relapse… despite conquering years of sobriety. Being awwre of this, hopefully, will make you more aware, so you do not ignore “signs” (more on this later)!
BUT relapse does NOT erase the work put in, NOR does it imply that you are a victim to your “old ways”. Relapse doesn’t doom you. It’s a reality, or real life, check. It’s an opportunity to become stronger and have an even greater impact.
It doesn’t define you. You are human.
Recovery is a verb. It’s ongoing. It has ups and downs. It’s a conscious everyday action.
The moment that it becomes a routine… well, that’s the moment you become complacent…. A SIGN! Merriam-Webster defines complacency as: “self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies.”
Making the choice to recover doesn’t mean you’re “in the clear,” in fact, you are more vulnerable as time goes by because it’s easy to believe you’ve regained full control. You haven’t. Old addictive lifestyle behaviors will creep back in and trick you. Your only defense is your awareness and desire to continue on in recovery.
So, if you want to be a recovery warrior, you must constantly reassess your strategy to fit where you are in the healing process. Only you know what works best for you, and you must be aware when something isn’t working. You’ve been given the tools, you’ve put in the work, and you know what works for you.
For those who are in recovery or have relapsed…
YOU ARE WORTH RECOVERY. You are human and wonderfully imperfect, like all of us. But… don’t become complacent—your strength is supported by self-awareness and humility. Don’t isolate from loved ones—find the relief of vulnerability and rely on loved ones for support. Don’t ignore problems, whether it be losing your job or arguing with your significant other—only you can identify your triggers and put into action your protective coping mechanisms. It’s okay to struggle, just don’t quit—keep going.
And last, but not least, keep in mind the 12 rewards of recovery:
“(1) Hope instead of desperation,
(2) faith instead of despair,
(3) courage instead of fear,
(4) peace of mind instead of confusion,
(5) self-respect instead of self-contempt,
(6) self-confidence instead of helplessness,
(7) the respect of others instead of their pity and contempt,
(8) a clean conscience instead of a sense of guilt,
(9) real friendships instead of loneliness,
(10) a clean pattern of life instead of a purposeless existence,
(11) the love and understanding of our families instead of their doubts and fears, and
(12) the freedom of a happy life instead of the bondage of an [addiction].”
For those who have a loved one experiencing addiction…
Step back, breathe, and try to understand. You’re allowed to be angry or upset… it’s even typical to grieve. But as long as you dwell in that, change is limited. Substance use is not a personal problem—it’s a family problem. While it’s pretty normal to be disappointed, too much time is wasted on shaming, blaming, and labeling. Allow them the space to be vulnerable, tell them their strengths, be consistent and steady for them, and learn about their disease. You have to find a healthy balance where you are still taking care of yourself, protecting your well-being, while doing what is reasonable for your loved one’s recovery.
Just don’t forget that:
“Addicts are not problems to be solved, but people to be loved.” -Paul Mathis
For those who think they can’t relate…
I challenge you to find how you can. Change your perspective. The world has one thing in common: we are all human beings. While our lives and experiences, dreams and fears, likes and dislikes are different… we all relate in our human emotions and how we feel. Society has become so desensitized and intolerant for what we all experience—we must reconnect to each other however we can.
Please, sit with this:
“If you believe ‘addiction is a choice’ then your ignorance is beyond measure. No one would ever choose to die in front of their children, break their parent’s hearts and simply destroy everything good and decent in their lives. We, who have the disease of addiction, are people who have lost the power of choice as to whether we use drugs or not. In losing that power, some of us will lose everything we have ever loved, including our very lives. Educate yourself, stop judging others, and be a part of the solution, not the problem.” -Saul Kane
We all share in this struggle. Brené Brown takes this a step further, saying “what we don’t need in the midst of struggle is shame for being human.” Let’s rehumanize real life and consider the struggle we are all going through.
Written by REAL LIFE intern, Alison Brown
Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary. “Complacent”. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/complacent
Deveney, R. & Patterson, E. (2019). Drug relapse: Signs, triggers, and prevention. The Recovery Village. Retrieved from https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/drug-addiction/relapse/#gref
Writtler, D. (2019). 3 Keys to sustaining long term addiction recovery. Brightside Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.brightsideclinic.com/3-keys-to-sustaining-long-term-addiction-recovery/