At first, the main purpose of entering into addiction recovery was so you would stop drinking, drugging, gambling, over-eating whatever else you did compulsively. You finally realized that you had a problem and needed to stop, the next thing you did was to admit that you not only had a problem but that the problem was one that cannot be fixed on your own.
The next stop along your road of recovery was realizing that since you cannot fix your problem on your own, you needed to ask for help. This was one of the most difficult things that you ever had to do in your life. Saying out loud to someone “I need help”, is not something that addicts do very well. We usually try to hide the fact that we are not in control and are not perfect. But somehow you did it. These things got you started out along your road of addiction recovery…but where are you along your road of recovery now?
What is interesting is that just as addiction usually follows the same downward spiral, addiction recovery seems to keep people on a similar upward course. This is not to say that everyone’s situations are identical, they are far from that. What it does mean is that there are some common speed bumps that people will hit as they travel down that road to recovery.
These “speed bumps” aren’t always monumental. They could be small, annoying things like not being able to sleep at night. Take myself for instance. I was reading some of my older posts and found one titled Downer Junky Asks How Am I Supposed To Sleep?. This was about two months into my recovery and I was finding it hard to fall asleep at night without the use of sleeping aides. Huge problem? No, but at the time it felt like that. Eventually I figured a way over that speed bump.
Climbing Over The Bigger Hurdles
I kept running into the little speed bumps of life in recovery and every once in a while would hit a bigger hurdle along the way. One of those hurdles was dealing with the fact that I am uncomfortable in social situations. I don’t think that it is very obvious to anyone I’m around because I have a great knack of totally hiding what I’m feeling on the inside and making it appear that I am very confident and comfortable on the outside. THIS IS A BIG ONE FOR ME.
In the “good” old days, I would quiet that internal anxiety by getting a primer on. A primer would be the 2 or 3 beers I would drink along with the 2 or 3 Klonopin I would pop before I left for whatever social gathering I was going to. This was probably the reason that no one ever knew when I was feeling tipsy…they only saw me when I was tipsy. It was when I was stone cold sober that people would question me about the way I was acting.
That primer allowed me to be “funner” and more “out going” when I arrived at the social gathering. I felt less self-conscious and was able to talk and laugh and “be myself”. At least I thought. As I got a little practice at sober socializing I realized that being on the quiet side and not always being the life of the party is ok. It’s who I am. Plus, I never have to wake up in the morning and think of some of the things that I said the night before and be riddled with embarrassment. That used to happen a lot. Have you ever heard the saying “It’s better to sit in silence and have people think that you are stupid rather than speak for the sake of speaking and remove all doubt”.
Then Comes The Realization
As you go along your road of recovery and you hit the occasional speed bump, you may start to see that you have a lot of “issues” (for lack of a better word) that have never been dealt with. They have only been covered up with the use of mood altering substances.
It’s at this spot along my road of recovery that I started to panic. I just kept thinking that I was so messed up. I was a weird person who can’t even deal with the smallest of things. What is wrong with me? Well that answer did come to me. The only thing that is wrong is that I didn’t have a lot of life skills or coping skills for that matter.
My skills were in the art of covering up the way I was feeling and never having to deal with things head on. Those are the “skills” that I had been working on so far in life. But, and this is a huge but, I thought about this and realized that this doesn’t make me a bad person. It just makes me a person that has some work to do on themselves…who doesn’t really?
At A Fork In The Road
When you are face to face with a situation that is new for you in the sense that usually you would run and hide, you are faced with a choice. You could either choose to deal with the situation and get this “life skill” or “coping skill” under your belt…or you could do what you have always done in the past. You can try to live in denial.
Guess what. Since you are no longer using mood altering substances you are going to find that living in denial of a situation is not as easy as it once was. Believe me, I’ve tried. There is nothing that is going to numb your guilt or worse, you’re shame. There is nothing that is going to make you escape reality for a few hours at a time. You will be left feeling horrible about yourself.
On the other hand, when you decide to actually face what it is you have fear of, you will begin to heal yourself. You will no longer be stuck in your addictive behavior patterns. Although your addictive behaviors are the ones that are second nature to you now, the more you work on dealing with life the more your improved behaviors will be the ones that happen without thought.
Addiction Recovery Becomes More Than Just Not Using
You will begin to see that addiction recovery is about way more than just not using your substance of choice. It is actually about healing your addictive thinking and addictive behaviors. It is about dealing with life in a different way than you have up to this point.
Once we grasp the concept of what addiction recovery truly is, we will begin the real journey of recovery. Once we realize that we will ALWAYS be a work in progress, the more forgiving we can be of ourselves. Once we realize that our understanding of addiction recovery can ebb and flow, we can stop beating ourselves up over the times that we just “don’t get it”.
Although there is no true definition of addiction recovery, I think that everyone can agree that it is more than just to stop using drugs and alcohol. It’s about our human development which was stunted at the hands of addiction. Once we begin to continue to develop as humans we will find ourselves wanting to turn to drugs or alcohol less in life. For we will have developed other ways of dealing with life…on life’s terms. Ones that actually get the job done, not just cover up our bad feelings.