Picture your life ten years from now. Think about how your recovery at that point. What will it consist of?
Photo by Christopher.woo
Do you see yourself sponsoring people, helping others in recovery in some way, reaching out to newcomers? Do you picture yourself as someone who is still heavily involved with “recovery basics” on a day to day basis? For example, working with other addicts and alcoholics in recovery, especially newcomers, as a regular part of your sobriety?
If so then that is just fine….there is nothing wrong with that if this is your vision. It is a proven path to successful sobriety.
But if that vision of long term recovery does not get you excited about living your life, then why would you pursue it? Just because traditional recovery circles believe that it is the only path to freedom does not make it so. There are a million and one ways to create a new life for yourself in recovery, just as there are also a million ways to reach out and help others in recovery.
If you believe that you must follow a traditional, “safe” path to recovery then you are mistaken. There is no safe path. Look at the numbers. Those who are enjoying long term sobriety are doing what works for them. If it did not work for them then they would become miserable and drink. Just because a recovery strategy works for some people does not mean that it will work for everyone. You have to realize that our best recovery programs have a relatively high rate of failure when it comes to keeping people sober.
Profound truth: those who really try are more likely to stay sober, but this is true regardless of what recovery program they are working.
There is no safest route to recovery. The supposedly safe route of traditional recovery produces very few success stories when you look at the big picture. Meanwhile, you have an opportunity to take your recovery into your own hands and create a new life for yourself.
With the creative approach to recovery, you are not going against the trend because you want to be seen as different, or because you want to be more independent, or even because you believe it works better than other programs. With creative recovery, you are doing it because it gives you freedom.
It is freedom that drew me to a creative approach to my life. I wanted to create positive experiences without this framework of traditional recovery hanging over my head. I wanted to help other people without getting wrapped up in the cliches and dogma of traditional recovery.
Now you might say: “That is all well and good, but are you not taking a risky path in your recovery? Why don’t you just stick with what works….stick with the basics? (i.e., traditional recovery).”
Based on my experience, traditional recovery is the risky path. I have been creating my own path in recovery for over 8 years now, and I’ve seen many others who have strayed from the traditional norms to create their own unique path in recovery. Some of these examples stray just a bit from traditional recovery strategies, and some of them stray a lot. And to be fair, I also know of some success stories from people who work a traditional 12 step program. But I would also point out that they are highly motivated individuals who use a lot of the creative strategies in their lives. Creating my own path in recovery has worked great for me in terms of beating my addiction.
My suggestion: embrace creative recovery and start owning your own path in recovery. Realize that you will have to customize a recovery program in long term sobriety if you are going to make it work for you. Don’t feel badly about shedding parts of traditional recovery that do not work for you or that hold you back in some way.
The responsibility for staying clean and sober is entirely yours. Own this responsibility and realize that doing so demands that you create your own path to success. There is no “safe” route. You have to create the “safe” path for yourself.