I used to think that simply not using drugs meant that I was "recovered" from my addiction. I wasn’t taking pills or getting high anymore, so—just like cancer—I was in remission. At least that's what I thought at the time.
One afternoon as I sat half-listening to my therapist at a drug counseling session about ways to move forward in sobriety, something she said caught my attention and changed the course of my life. She said, "You can spend the rest of your life sober, or you can recover and live the rest of your life." Until that moment, it had never occurred to me that there was something more I should aspire to than just being sober. Abstinence, sobriety, and recovery were all terms that I used interchangeably. I didn’t know that they were all very different things.
Every day that I stay sober is me winning the physical half of the battle against addiction. However, addiction involves more than just the physical half. It is a disease that encompasses the mind and the spirit as well. I was sober for a significant amount of time before I started my actual recovery, which was and still continues to be a process of healing and learning how to love who I am.
As addicts, we spend a lot of time feeling guilty and hating ourselves. We then wind up hating everyone else too (except the cashier at the liquor store). Once we begin the recovery process we learn that even though we've made bad choices, we are still worthy of being loved.
We all want to get to the same place of freedom and peace, but the destination is different for each of us. For some, the 12-step program is the structure they need to be successful. Others choose treatment, therapy, church or a combination of all three through faith-based rehab. My sobriety came during the time I was at the treatment facility but I started my actual recovery in therapy. I embrace the recovery process and work hard to build a life of meaning and happiness. It is exciting to think of the future and what it holds for me.
Just as addiction was once your way of life, recovery now becomes your way of life. It is much more than just being sober. It is a lifelong experience of getting to know yourself and enjoying the experience of living life.
Don’t know where to start? Here’s a list of full-service rehab facilities in your area.