What does recovery mean?

Recovery is more than abstaining from your drug of choice. Recovery is about building a life worth living.

In addiction our lives, hearts and head become consumed with our next hit. The people we value most become less important to us. Our jobs, our livelihood, our passions, our hobbies become a thing of the past. And we hurt, we hurt so much until the pain becomes unbearable and we want to change.

Using becomes painful. So we get clean, we stop. Through the rooms, through outpatient groups, through inpatient centers, through individual therapy we manage to abstain. But then what?

“Now I’m left with all the emotions I have run from for years. I’m left with loneliness as many of my friends and family have left me. I have no job. I have no hobby. I have no life. But I’m clean…”

This is a scary place for many, a place in which it is easier to pick up than face the fear of the unknown. The fear of the brokenness experienced every waking moment.

If only it were here that people would reach out. Because it is here that recovery begins. It is here that we can start to rebuild the life we want. We can learn who we are apart from addiction. We can grow in our identity and sense of self. Not addict, not substance user, not failure, not worthless….

You are you.
You are learning.
You are worthy.
You are growing.

Recovery cannot be fabricated.
Recovery emerges from within when we have the courage to let go of the past, of the present and of our fear of the future.

Many are struggling right now in recovery, struggling to see a future through their present reality. Especially in lockdown, it is hard to see past the loneliness, past the boredom, past the fear.

But there is hope for a life that you could never have imagined. There is hope if you stay clean to become who you are meant to be. There is hope to grow, to learn and to rediscover who you are. Don’t give up. Reach out. Stand strong and remember these promises:

1. If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are halfway through. This promise states that people who complete the AA program and make a sincere effort will begin to see changes in their lives even before they are halfway done.
2. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. People who finish the steps will experience relief from the suffering of addiction and feel free to pursue a new life without alcohol.
3. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. Those who work the program will gain a sense of acceptance that allows them to process their experiences, learn from them, and move on without guilt.
4. We will comprehend the word serenity, and we will know peace. Addiction can lead to a constant state of inner turmoil. The AA program helps people find a calmness that is rare during active using, and that many addicts have never known in their lives.
5. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. Many addicts don’t believe that other people understand what they’ve been through. But in AA, they often meet people who can identify with and learn from their experiences.
6. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. Addiction makes users feel worthless and guilty about their actions. The steps can give people a sense that their lives have a meaning and a purpose, particularly through helping others.
7. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Addiction leads to many self-centered behaviors. Helping other people find recovery can bring addicts outside of themselves and help them develop a genuine interest in other people.
8. Self-seeking will slip away. The tunnel vision of focusing only on oneself and drinking usually begins to fade as people work the steps.
9. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. AA can shift one’s perspective from hopeless to hope. People can begin to imagine a life where they are happy.
10. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. Alcoholics who recover through AA don’t feel like they have to hide anymore or worry about how to support their addiction and maintain financial security.
11. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. As the AA member gets deeper into the recovery process, they begin to see situations more clearly and can tap into their inner resources.
12. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. The concept of a higher power is central to AA. This higher power, be it God or something else, becomes a guiding force in the person’s life.

No matter where you are in your journey of recovery today. Don’t give up.