The principle of freedom as applied to recovery is written about in the ninth step of 12-step program materials. However, most recovering addicts experience freedom the minute they can honestly admit to themselves that they cannot give up the addiction without some help.
Our culture dictates that our heroes are those who single-handedly overcome obstacles to success and become fearless in the face of adversity. This is laudable and sometimes possible in other areas of life, but it is not the best road for recovery when it comes to addictions. The act of letting go of the tough-guy facade is usually the beginning of a process that allows an addict to embrace recovery.
Freedom from Admitting You Have a Problem
There is a great amount of relief in admitting that a problem has us stumped, no matter who we are or what the problem may be. Allowing for our human failings can sometimes relieve pressure to perform that is endemic in our cultural indoctrination. This pressure does not serve any purpose other than to isolate us from the resources that will allow us to begin to band together to become stronger than that which is undoable alone. This is the true meaning of freedom.
Freedom from Addiction
Then there is the obvious freedom from the addiction itself. This concept appeals greatly to most addicts. As they continue to process through the 12 Steps, they begin to experience freedom from the dishonesty and cover-up required to maintain their addiction. Then there is the freedom from the shame, anger, and pain of active addiction. These are not to be minimalized by anyone, as their toll is often the incentive to begin a recovery process from the onset.
Some Less Obvious Freedoms
Other freedoms are those that are less obvious to those not savvy in the life of an addict, such as freedom to:
- Travel without having to worry about having enough of the addictive substance available in new and strange places.
- Spend time with loved ones and family that has suffered because it was too difficult to maintain an "even keel" emotionally or physically during active addiction.
- Go where one wants and do what one wants without the ball and chain of the addictive habit going along for the ride.
- Stop looking over one's shoulder waiting to be caught or found out for participating in their addictive behaviors.
- Live life without the day-to-day pain of ups and downs of physical and emotional cravings, and serving those cravings.
- Walk with one's head held high and to look others in the eye because one feels that they have finally found a good way to live in the world.
Recovery and Financial Freedom
Not to mention the financial freedom that comes when all one's available money is not being spent on the substance or addictive behavior.
Freedom from the guilt and shame that come with knowing you are taking necessary resources away from their families and loved ones and spending them on addiction. This is a great weight that gets lifted off every recovering addict's shoulders, whether they borrowed, earned, stole, or otherwise gained that money from whatever sources.
Recovery offers the freedom to focus all of that energy and attention in the direction you deem most appropriate for it to be channeled. This is great freedom, indeed.