What makes recovery a lifetime process?
Photo by nattu
The reason that recovery from addiction is a lifetime process is due to the nature of relapse. It can sneak up on an addict at any given time, even after years and years of quality sobriety. We must always stay on guard against it.
If recovery were a simple one-time event, something that occurred, then afterwards you would presumably be “cured.” But we are never cured, and the threat of relapse is always there.
Your real recovery starts when you leave the treatment center
I can’t help but notice that a lot of newcomers feel like they are “graduating” when they first leave a drug or alcohol treatment center. This is a dangerous mindset, because that first step out into the real world is when recovery truly begins. There is very little to test you within the confines of a safe and secure rehab facility.
Recovery is a series of new beginnings
In fact, recovery is nothing more than a series of new beginnings on your new “journey through life.” This is because everything that you used to do in active addiction must now be approached in a new way now that you are clean and sober. Even something simple like going to the movies can be a bizarre experience for the newly recovering addict, because they are so used to doing it while drunk and stoned. Take this concept up a notch and now you have the idea that the recovering addict must re-learn how to deal with all of the relationships in their life, from their close families, to their distant friends, to their employer, and so on. Sobriety creates a new lens through which we view everything, and it takes some getting used to.
We never stop learning in recovery. Ever. This is part of the process.
At first, every day is a new challenge. How are we going to get through today without drinking? We are learning new things left and right. Sharing with others seems to help a bit. All part of the process.
After we’ve been sober a while, we are still learning. Maybe a newcomer shares something with us and we see the importance of being grateful, all over again. This is what the learning process becomes as we stay sober: continuous relearning of basic concepts. Applying the spiritual principles that keep us sober in new ways. Seeing things on a whole new level. Hearing a saying or cliche for the millionth time, and suddenly having it click for us in an astounding new way. This is real learning: the principals and concepts applied in our own lives.
You just can’t read a book and take a test and be done with this type of learning. Perhaps this is because we keep evolving; our minds continue to learn and grow–but our addiction lies in wait, never changing. So we need to keep relearning new ways to apply the spiritual principles that keep us sober, because we are growing, changing, evolving beings. We are not snapshots.
Here’s another way to look at it: You know that little devil that sits on your shoulder and tries to get you to drink–well, that little guy is constantly thinking of new ways to convince you to relapse! You might have quieted him down in the past through spiritual action, but what are you gonna do today to calm his incessant chatter? If you do nothing, his voice will still be there. It will always be there–that’s the nature of addiction. That’s why we need to keep learning, to continue the process of recovery.
Constantly creating a new life for yourself
Recovery is creation. This is my philosophy. Recovery is a process because you are constantly creating a new life for yourself.
Think about that: “a new life for yourself.”
We know how to get that “old life” for ourselves: just pick up a drink or a drug. We can have all that chaos and misery back, just like that, if we so choose.
Action items – what you can do:
1) Don’t try to be “cured.” Accept the process for what it is. You are here to learn.
2) Embrace learning. Have gratitude when a lesson presents itself.