How do you unmask your inner strength in addiction recovery and sobriety? How do you get back to the core of who you really are while also becoming the person that you your higher power intends for you to be?
How do you turn a life of chaos around and thrive in recovery?
Here is my experience and my observation about the world of sobriety and addiction treatment.
First of all, there are a number of different recovery programs out there in the world. Those various recovery programs all attempt to help people to recover from addiction, and most of those programs can claim at least some success cases and several failures, if you will. No program has a perfect success rate due to the self destructive nature of the disease.
In other words, for the struggling alcoholic who is not yet in a state of true surrender, there is no recovery program on earth that can possibly help them. They are stuck until they can move past their denial.
And it should be noted that a program of recovery can help a person who is willing, it can help a person who has moved past their own denial, but the program itself–and treatment itself–does not have a magic lever to move people past their denial. That work has to be done internally, personally, and generally comes as a result of the pain and consequences of the addiction.
I believe that most reputable recovery programs and treatment centers have the power to help an alcoholic turn their life around and find stable footing, because the bulk of that heavy lifting happens from the concept of surrender, not from the concepts that are taught in treatment. Sure, you can certainly learn a lot about recovery and how to live a successful life by going to rehab, by going to AA, or by studying a religious based recovery program–but all of these are secondary to the simple question that defines success in this world:
“Has the alcoholic surrendered fully yet, or not?”
That’s it. It all comes down to that, at least in the beginning.
Now once a struggling alcoholic or drug addict has reached their point of ultimate surrender, they are ready to move forward and get the help that they so desperately need.
I fully recommend that people with a drinking issue check into an inpatient treatment center. This creates the best possible start for their recovery journey and gives them the most possible advantages.
If you want to find your core strengths and bring them to fruition in early recovery then you need to build a strong foundation for yourself. This means going to inpatient treatment, following through with counseling and therapy, going to meetings or support groups after the 28 day program is over, and so on. If you do all of those things and you follow through on everything then you will have this foundation from which you can then build.
After I had built this foundation for myself my therapist and my sponsor started to nudge me in the direction of what I would call “personal growth.” So adopting recovery principles and working through the 12 steps of AA was one level of growth, and in my experience that was what created the foundation for me. But then it was suggested to me that I go back to work, go back to college, quit smoking cigarettes, start meditating, start exercising, and several other ideas as well. I took all of those suggestions and I at least tested them out and gave each suggestion a fair trial in my life.
Surprisingly, I actually dropped a few of the suggestions and moved on to other things. However, the few ideas that I ended up leaving behind were no big deal at all, because I picked up and ran with so many other life-altering concepts that ended up having a huge impact on my well being.
In addition to this, some of the ideas that I tested and initially discarded I ended up circling back to later on in my recovery journey. Sometimes an idea just won’t click with you, or it isn’t really what you need at the time, but then later your circumstances may be different.
I found that I was fairly proficient when it came to writing and typing out my thoughts, so I started to do that a lot more, and in various ways. First of all I started typing out a journal every single day, just spilling my thoughts through the keyboard at top speed, and I realized that when I did that every day it helped to “lighten my mental load.” It was helping to relieve a bit of obsessive thought by typing out my emotions, feelings, thoughts, and ideas each day.
I also started to explore online AA meeting forums, which turned out to be an interesting journey in itself, and I met a lot of neat people in recovery that way. These people helped me to explore a lot of recovery concepts in written form. I also learned that online recovery does have its limits, and that there is on substitute for real personal one to one interactions in order to help someone stay sober. Online recovery is supplemental when compared to something like a 28 day rehab program.
I do not think that you can exactly force your inner strength to explode and shine through in your life if you are not also taking care of yourself in a holistic sense.
What this means is that you have to address the big issues in your life in parallel. Meaning that you cannot just focus on physical fitness for a month, then switch to spiritual growth for a month, then switch to taking care of your relationships. You have to hit all of those highlights at the same time, or your life will fall apart.
I have watched this happen over and over again. If you neglect one area of your life, or of your overall health, then that can drag you back into relapse, and then you lose everything.
If you want to harness your strengths in life then you need the strong foundation in place. This means going to rehab, following through with aftercare and doing therapy, counseling, meetings, and whatever else is suggested. It means taking care of yourself emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. It means surrounding yourself with “winners” and healthy influences, and keeping toxic people at distance.
If you fail to build your foundation in this way then it doesn’t really matter what your strengths are in life, nor how strong they may be, because you will be caught up and held back with this lack of holistic health.
They key to success in long term sobriety is personal growth. This has to happen with every major part of your life, and of your health. You cannot ignore the big important issues and expect for one key strength in another area of life to carry you through. Take care of yourself holistically and you will thrive in recovery.