Keeping it simple

That is the best way I can think to start blogging. Just setting up a blog is exciting and a little overwhelming!  So many options, so many directions, so many distractions!

So, to keep it simple, I’ll start with some basics about addiction and options and opportunities for moving into recovery.

As far a language and defintions, I will use the word addict to include those addicted to all drugs, including alcohol will strive to speak in gender neutral language.

One definition of addiction is the inabilty to stop using substances in spite of negative consequences. This can apply to self-destructive behaviors, such as gambling and overeating. The negative consequences generally continue to escalate, and the risks of continuing to use increase.

The concept of recovery also has many descriptions and definitions. Probably the simplest expectation is abstinence. A better description of recovery is the journey of getting and remaining abstinent, and is a more active experience. It is a time of enlightenment and joy, of struggle and self-acceptance. And a time when a support network is imperative.

A support network varies from person to person, but includes other sober and recovery people, family and friends. Friends and family often want to help and support, but don’t know how. They have their own recovery process, and need to learn more about addiction and recovery, the addict’s and their own.

Traditional recovery programs are 12-step based, and introduce addicts to 12-step recovery programs, such as AA and NA, to support their ongoing abstinence and recovery efforts. Other programs exist that are not 12-step based, and are often not in insurance networks; some are not in for good reasons, but others could benefit those for whom 12-step is not successful or of interest.

I fear this a somewhat heretical statement for me, as my initial training was in 12-step recovery programs. Over the years, I have seen many clients, in program and in my private practice succeed utilizing 12-step recovery programs. Others have not, for a variety of reasons. In the “old days” , these clients were told they were failures, that even if they were abstinent, they would fail if they did not embrace 12-step programs.; that they were “dry drunks.”Some did fail; other succeeded, and developed a solid pattern of abstinence, and a rewarding, successful life.

So which is the best approach? That varies from individual to individual. In my experience, the one factor that determines whether or not a person succeeds is a desire to do so. That is, that the person wants to recover. Can willpower alone do it? Maybe for some. It is more the concept of willingness, a willingness to do whatever it takes, to get on and stay on the path of recovery.


Suggested Readings:

AA and NA literature

The Tao of Sobriety by David Gregson and Jay S. Efran, PH.D.

Mindful Recovery: A Spiritual Path to Healing from Addictions by Thomas and Beverly Bien

The Thirst for Wholeness: Attachment, Addiction, and the Spiritual Path by Christina Grof

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  1. Very interesting article.

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