There is no shame in being or knowing someone with a substance abuse disorder! It’s time to let go of the guilt and embarrassment that is felt around having a dependence on a substance. People who develop substance abuse disorders are not weak, bad or broken. They are simply people who made certain choices in order to deal with the stresses and strains of life and found comfort in whatever it was they were using or doing! These are not moral failings on the part of the person who is then caught in the chaos and obsession of addiction. Because believe me when I started to talk about it and acknowledge what was going on, I was quick to see the fruitless insanity of it all. It’s not only the using or doing that becomes habitual, but also the associated rituals. And it’s not always about using because one is desperate and miserable, sometimes a night on the town is just fun!!
But the truth is that some of us end up being faced with the challenge of wanting to recover and stop using and doing for a whole number of reasons. Maybe it is because life is a little unmanageable or we realise that we are neglecting and harming the relationships that mean the most to us. It could be that our professional lives are suffering or that we are just fed up with being trapped in the cycle of dependence! Whatever the reason people choose to start the journey of recovery, there is a huge amount to be said about their characters and weak, bad and broken are not among them. Recovery requires bravery, courage and honesty, and is not an easy road to walk. Because after the chaos of addiction often follows the chaos of recovery. Broken relationships that require attention, messed up professional situations that need to be addressed, accumulated debt and even financial ruin that has to be faced! These are not challenges that are for the fainthearted and that is what makes me know that “addicts” are not feeble, irresponsible people who set out to ruin their lives or those of the people around them.
Recovery means honestly evaluating your values and spiritual principles. Learning tools and techniques that can be used to resurrect damaged personal and professional lives can empower and educate people choosing to live their recovery are essential. Bad decisions and the path of least resistance is often what leads us into substance misuse, so it’s important that we develop new coping techniques and start to establish new decision-making and thought patterns. So that when triggers surface, especially in early recovery, we are equipped to deal with them using sound, problem-solving skills rather than calling our dealer or rushing into the first bar we see! These are not measures that are undertaken by people who are fragile and defective, these are steps taken by those that are strong-willed and resilient. Relearning about life takes audacity and determination, especially when life gets tough and challenging as it inevitably will. There will come a time when boredom, frustration and even happiness will push us towards picking up a drink and having a line, because those really are the easy options. Being in a person in recovery, who makes the hard choices, is not an easy choice.
So be proud of your recovery and all the strong, positive traits that you have harnessed to be in recovery no matter how long it’s been. Think of the parts of self that keep you moving forward every day and take a little time in the chaos to acknowledge what you have achieved. And when a line, a drink, a smoke or a hit seem like the only option take a moment or two to think about the advantages and disadvantages of that choice. And then take the next courageous step in your life and continue boldly in whichever direction you choose.
If you would like more information on empowering tools and techniques for your continued recovery and wellness have a look at the Recovery Wellness Group that is a 21-day coaching program conducted around wellness and positive psychology.