Recovery is scary, there is no doubt about that! It takes time, perseverance and lots of work to stay sober, especially in those first couple of months (and years) and there are moments when relapse seems like the easy option! But with more than 2,200 days of sobriety behind me I can honestly say that it is worth the battles, the moments of self-doubt and the sheer determination it takes. And there are people who want to help us stay sober! And whether that is your local mutual-help group, your therapist or counselor, your sober companion or your recovery coach there are options. Social media has an incredible network of people in various stages of recovery, groups that are advocating a myriad of recovery options and recovery professionals that are there to hold our hands through the dark times and share in our successes during the good times.
So often in the past people thought that recovery could only begin once a person had reached “rock bottom”, but this is not the case. Anyone who feels that they are struggling with a deep-seated addiction or just moving towards one, can reach out and use the internet which has become an invaluable source of information and education. This may be as simple as taking on online test if one is concerned about their substance use, becoming a member of an online support group or doing a Skype session with a recovery professional. It’s not a one-size fits all fix when it comes to confronting our substance abuse and making the decision to enter recovery anymore. For some people it may start with a stay in a rehabilitation centre, for others it might be court-mandated and for others it may just be a case of enough’s enough! Whatever the reasons are for people choosing to start their recovery journey, the options are becoming more varied than they have ever been.
I’ve blogged about this before, but as I study more about substance abuse, it is becoming clearer to me that just because one approach doesn’t “fit” doesn’t mean that a person should give up and go back to the source of their pain and misery, in whichever form they choose that to be. I can speak from experience when I say that I spent a little time in voluntary rehab and it’s all good and well when one is within a protected environment, attending group and individual therapy and education sessions on a daily basis, but the hard work really starts when you leave and have to make recovery work in the real world! Sadly, it didn’t for me! I tried, I honestly did, but at the time in my city the only options were therapy sessions I couldn’t afford and AA which just didn’t resonate with me. I relapsed and spent another 4 years battling my alcoholism.
One of the resources that helped me through my first year in my third attempt at recovery was an online support group. It wasn’t a 12-step program and that was a revelation to me. I didn’t have to give myself over to a higher power and I was the person in control of my recovery choices. I am taking absolutely nothing away from 12-step programs, they just don’t work for everyone and that is my point here. Just because you don’t want to attend a group meeting, where you work steps and share your addiction in an open forum, doesn’t mean that there aren’t other alternatives. There are other mutual-help groups that are not based on 12-steps, there are online support groups and discussion forums and there is an ever-increasing workforce involved in the area of substance abuse recovery. But the most important thing is that if you do go through a rehabilitation program, you need to find what works for you after that.
Don’t give up if one of the options doesn’t excite or drive you into the next phase of your recovery! Get on the internet and find a way that does…and there will be one. Whether that means typing your fingers to the bone in online chat groups from the comfort of your living room or finding a recovery coach that will help you create a recovery plan. For some it means doing work with a therapist to understand why they fell into addiction and laying these past issues to rest. Because if you expend the same amount of time and energy on your recovery as you did on your addiction the results will be unprecedented. I have read so many stories recently of people who are opening up and are not afraid to share their stories without the curtain of anonymity to protect them. Because it is time to shake the shame and the stigma of substance abuse and do everything that we can to create awareness, educate, assist and overcome this disease that ruins too many lives across all sectors of the world population.
So reach out, ask questions, find the your way forward and make the internet and social media an intrinsic part of your recovery. Of course these are just suggestions, things that have worked for me, but I find daily strength in blogs, tweets, posts and articles that I read that I believe make me stronger, wiser and more passionate about my own and others’ recovery journeys. We are part of a community of people that care deeply about each other and our sustained sobriety and for that I am exceedingly grateful.
‘Til next time