New Year – New Voices in Recovery: Joshua B. Hoe: What Does Recovery Mean To You?

Note from Marilyn L. Davis: Our second New Year-New Voice is Joshua B. Hoe, sharing his story. That’s what recovery is – staying true to what works for an individual and then sharing that story to others.  Finding his path, sharing his struggles, opportunities and progress may help another, and there’s no greater gift than carrying a positive and inspiring message.  

What Does Recovery Mean to You? 

When I first walked through those doors to my first meeting, terrified and sure I would be rejected by everyone, I had no idea what an incredible and life-changing experience I would discover when I found my “program of recovery.”
Having so many people accept my story, embrace my flaws, and be a constant source of encouragement to me has been surprising and an incredible blessing to say the least. Despite all of that, I still almost let recovery slip away several times early on.
Because I was creating an unrealistic and dangerous view of what recovery was for myself. I was unrealistic about how I defined recovery.

  • I Was Looking For A “Cure.”
  • I was certain the point of recovery was to “graduate” from addiction.
  • I was 100% sure in my ability to overcome my problems.
  • I knew I would leave no stone uncovered — now that I accepted that I had a problem.
  • I knew it was only weeks, maybe months until I had this addiction thing licked.
  • I was under the illusion that learning and self-knowledge would fix me. 
  • I was confident I could just use willpower until I fixed the problem.
And many disappointments followed because of the faulty thinking, and I almost lost sobriety several times.
Why Did I Still Have The Urges?
How could this be? I was working the steps, I was calling people, I was doing everything I was supposed to do — so why was I still experiencing the urge to act out? Why couldn’t I graduate from meetings?
I noticed that if I went too long between meetings, I would feel like it was time to start circling the drain or exploring things that used to be dangerous to me.
For the first time in my life, I was struggling to understand how I could be such a failure at something I genuinely wanted to overcome. I came dangerously close to falling off the cliff, not just into relapse, but a major fall back into total disaster through other behaviors.
I realized I must be doing something very wrong, so I rolled up my sleeves, put on my glasses, and started reading all of the literature again.
Acceptance Was and Is My Answer
Somehow, through grace or providence, it occurred to me, as I reread, that I had been misinterpreting the first three steps. I was not really “admitting that I had a problem,” “accepting that I was powerless” over that problem, and “surrendering my problems” to a higher power, the group or my sponsor. I was still trying to control and enjoy it, even if I claimed I was fully engaged in recovery. 
Figuring out my error was an incredible breakthrough for me. Instead of thinking I was learning something that would allow me to grow back to being a “normal” person, I realized I was and always would be an addict. Instead of being sad, accepting this was a revelation.
Instead of thinking that my program of recovery was just a stopgap on my way back to full sanity, it became a regular and vital part of the structure of activities that keep me sober.
Authentic acceptance was my answer!

What Recovery Is To Me – How I Define Success

  • I now define recovery as the necessary structure that supports my life. 
  • I accept that I am an addict, and absent divine intervention, I will likely always be an addict.

This might sound depressing, but by embracing all of the elements of my program of recovery, I now live a happy life. In the process, I’ve realized three fundamental truths through my program of recovery that keep me going back:

1. I need to regularly allow myself to share and feel the full gamut of emotions.
Somewhere along the road of my life, I did not learn to correctly and maturely process emotions outside of anger.  Whenever I felt angry or resentful, I would careen down a long corridor of inappropriate behaviors that almost always ended in my acting out.
2. I need to be open and intimate with other human beings, to open myself to them and to be honest. Intimacy comes from openness and honesty.
Somewhere along the road of my life, I did not learn to have healthy and productive intimate relationships. Often I would withdraw to my isolated fantasy world, distance myself from the people I cared about the most, and keep myself in a place I could never find happiness. Like so many people I have met, I also mistook sex for intimacy.
3. Recovery is not a chore, a penance, or punishment. Maintaining my program of recovery is what allows me to process emotions maturely, remain socially connected, and to find joy in my life. My program of recovery is not part of my punishment; it is part of my reward.
The “Normal” Person
I may never have become that “normal” person I used to aspire to; if I had, I would have short-changed myself by settling for that illusion. I believe I have become a much better person through recovery than I ever could be without recovery or back where I used to be.
Once I learned just to accept recovery as a part of my life things have gotten infinitely better.

What matters is how you define what recovery means to you and for you.
I still feel urges to act out all the time, what has changed; more than anything else, is my confidence in the set of tools I have learned to use to help me cope effectively with my urges.
We addicts are powerless but we are not helpless, and what works for me includes going to regular meetings, calling my sponsor, meditating, working out, and listening to music.
Before I started in recovery, I had most of what I thought I wanted in life, but, I was totally miserable. Now, I have hardly any of the trappings of success that I used to be so proud of, but I am happier than I have ever been in my life.
I hope your program of recovery supports you in the same way!
I wish you every success in your recovery and you life in 2016! Happy New Year!
About Joshua Hoe

Joshua B. Hoe is a grateful recovering addict in Michigan with 5.5 years of sobriety.

Josh is the author of the book “Writing Your Own Best Story, Addiction and Living Hope available on Amazon and writes a recovery blog ( 

He writes about recovery because he thinks it is a vital part of his amends process, part of his 12th step work, and also because it helps him write through the struggles that he faces in his own addiction.
When he is not writing about recovery he is a freelance writer and also writes about his other passions, music and politics. He played in bands, managed bands, vociferously collects music, and has gone to thousands of shows over his lifetime. His love of music is reflected in his blog:

Josh holds a Masters degree in International Relations and spent decades working in higher education.

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