The more I learn about addiction, the more confusing it becomes!? There are so many ideas about the cause of addiction and the reasons that some people become addicts and others don’t. At the moment I am doing a course on “Addiction & The Brain” and I have to admit that it’s stretching me intellectually. But it’s also fascinating. I’m learning about things that I had no idea about and the great thing about being in long-term recovery is that there are so many more hours in the day than there were when I was drinking. We all know that a lot of our time when we are in the grips of addiction is taken up with our disease… And that’s another element of addiction that is constantly under debate.
But whatever you have chosen as the cause of your addiction, whether it be physiology, environment, stress or being hit with the unlucky gene stick (to name a few) I think it’s important to be clear in this for yourself, so you can choose a course of action to map out your recovery. And with the luxury of hangover-free weekends and luxuriant evenings unclouded by your drug of choice, there is oodles of time to spend deciding the best approach for yourself. I’ve also been spending a lot of time on the recovery discussion boards recently and the one thing that has struck me is this almost warlike rivalry between those who follow the 12-step programs and those who choose not to.
I’ve been open about the fact that 12-step just never resonated with me, but I don’t think people in recovery should waste one second of their new found time verbally bashing alternative approaches to recovery. If AA works for you then that’s brilliant! If you have chosen to go another route such as therapy, then more power to you. Or perhaps you’re working with a Recovery Coach to plot your individual path through the initial stages of sobriety. Again I say, there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer to getting and staying clean and sober. But I’m confounded by the rather vicious debate between people who have chosen recovery, to try and argue that the route that they’ve chosen is the right one (and the other ways are wrong)!
The one thing I know for certain about my recovery is that there is no point in trying to make your recovery into someone else’s. Especially in the early stages of sobriety we are so amazed at how wonderful it feels that I suppose it’s inevitable that we want to share this with others. If I can use the analogy of looking at your friends’ endless pictures of their last overseas trip…it’s far less inspiring and exciting to be subjected to endless views of famous landmarks and pics of new travel mates, than to be the person who is reliving the journey. A funny anecdote here and there and maybe a snapshot of the little bistro they stumbled across in Florence is one thing, but hundreds of photos of the works of the Italian Masters quite another.
I feel the same way about how we choose to pursue our recovery. When asked by someone I am happy to give them a brief objective outline of how I chose to get well. Of course I am always asked if I tried AA, and I’m truthful about the fact that it didn’t work for me, but I do not spend the next 20 minutes AA-bashing! I talked about a couple of different choices in my post “Which Way to Recovery“, the idea here was to encourage people to concentrate on what works for you! Don’t take away from anyone that they may be happy with the structure of working the steps, or that they may seek something more tailor-made. That where some may be willing and able to rely on their own willpower and tenacity others may find solace and support in a group setting. I really haven’t set out to upset or offend anyone with this post today, I just think that all this time spent vilifying a road to recovery that might not be your cup of tea, is a senseless waste of time. And quite honestly, a rather negative thing to be focusing on.
Of course there is room for healthy debate, but prejudicial argument has no place here because the point of any approach is to create a healthy fulfilling life for ourselves and others. By all means share the strengths of your program, but let’s all agree that there is little benefit to be found in spending any time being negative about an alternative approach that might hold the answer for someone else. My point is it really doesn’t matter how you get to and through recovery, as long as it doesn’t include the harm of others than there is merit it it for you and there may be for others too. So focus on the positives and forget about the negatives, because life is better with a clear head and an open heart.
‘Til next time