By: Marilyn L. Davis
Our Brains and Bodies Learn to Function
We Thought We Could Function on Drugs and Alcohol
Going to treatment shocked some of our family and friends; we seemed to fool them with our functioning. But what exactly is functioning?
Functioning is Not Our Best
Functioning is performing adequately. Think about the functionality of everyday items:
- Hats: they keep our ears warm, hair in place, dry, or concealed on bad days
- Computers: they store data, check our spelling, provide entertainment
- Watches: tell time, and eventually get replaced by a phone
I Gave Up Drugs, Why Can’t I Function?
For some of us, we seemed to be worse off in our early recovery than we were in our use. In our recovery, we forget appointments, we lose track of a conversation, laugh when others are crying, or space out and have shiny moments for no clear reason. Our eyes betray us. We are reading one sentence, our eyes wander two lines down, and nothing makes sense.
It creates the illusion that it would be better to function on drugs and alcohol than appear stupid sober. We forget that it will take some time for our brains, bodies, and emotions to heal.
Healing Takes Time and Resolve
Too many give in or give up at this point and relapse. They forget the resolve that they used to develop tolerance, their steadfast approach to using.
They succumb to the choice of functioning on drugs because they refuse to seem inadequate in early recovery.
Rather than think about this in binary; on/off terms, it is important to realize that the brain, our bodies, and our emotions will take some time to readjust and heal in this new non-using state.
Be Patient and Encouraging While Healing
In early recovery, our brain needs to recover its ability to think without chemicals.
If we apply the same resolve to healing that we did to use, not being embarrassed about the shiny moments, asking others how they dealt with forgetting and talking about our feelings, we do begin to heal.
We strengthen our resolve to stay in recovery when we show patience with others and ourselves during this time. We are learning about something new – living without drugs and alcohol, and just like any new subject, or when we were learning to use, it will take time.
It is ironic that we were so often proud of how well we functioned on drugs and alcohol, yet cannot muster this same attitude in early recovery.
By accepting that our brains, bodies, and emotions are healing, we can gently move from functioning to living – that is the true healing of recovery.
Writing, and recovery heals the heart