Recovery is a personal journey.
Because of this, traditional recovery programs tend to create a bit of friction and almost set people up against themselves.
For example, you’ve probably heard that it’s a “we” program. You’ve probably also heard that you need to put yourself and your recovery first. How can these both be true if they are being presented as universal truths?
For some it might be a “we” program but that leans dangerously close to using a social solution instead of relying on sound recovery principles and real personal growth. If you depend on a social solution for your sobriety then all you’ve done is to create another dependency.
Networking with others has it’s place and that is in early recovery. As you progress the focus should shift towards personal growth and empowering yourself. Those who stay stuck in the social solution tend to ignore the needed push for personal growth because it is easier to just use meetings as group therapy. This keeps people stuck at a very low level of growth and might even lead to stagnation and relapse.
Recovery is personal. Someone can tell you how to get through the first week of sobriety because this is a universal process and we all go through the same basic detox. But can someone tell you how to empower yourself and really start growing at 5 years clean and sober? Sure they can try, and they can relate their own experience with this, but the information becomes less and less relevant as you stay cleaner for longer.
That’s because we branch out in recovery as we progress and start growing in different directions and new areas of our lives. I’ve even heard it said in meetings before: “If other people did what I do in order to stay sober, they would probably relapse.” This is true, of course, because recovery is so personal. We customize the program to work for us.
Even those who work a “standard” program of recovery such as the 12 step model are using customization, because they have taken the program and tweaked it to fit their personal needs. The real winners in recovery have carved out their own path towards sobriety.
For example, take a handful of people in AA and ask them each: “How did you apply the third step in your life today?” If they give you a surface-level answer, dig deeper and say “yes, but how did this guide your actions?” If you ask some of these questions, you’ll see just how differently each person approaches their recovery.
They have a saying in traditional recovery: “take what you need and leave the rest.” This speaks to the need for customization. You have to find your own path.
If you want to know how to make it through your first month of sobriety, it makes sense to seek help and advice from others. But if you want to know how to live your life sober and make it in long term sobriety, then the answers to that are within you. You have to find your own motivation to push yourself to grow. This might involve other people but ultimately it is a personal journey.
The answers are within you and if you seek those answers through a social solution then you’re going to be disappointed. Recovery fellowships are useful in early sobriety but they don’t create a new life for you as you transition to long term recovery. The need to create a new life – that part is up to you.