By: C. W. Stratton
” An apple tree is just like a person. In order to thrive, it needs companionship that’s similar to it in some ways, but quite different than others.” ~ Jeffrey Stepakoff, The Orchard
We’re the Same/Slightly Different/Unique/Common
There are millions of addicted people in our world. As this epidemic and trend continues to grow and impact us directly and indirectly, we seem to get caught up in what we feel is the best course of action to sustain long-term recovery. For decades, we have used one-size fits all approach to battle this illness, as if there are not differences in people.
In an earlier post, I pointed out the importance of looking beyond the surface of the person, which only means identifying other aspects of the person that may be impacting their ability to stay in the recovery process.
However, we can apply this process to our recovery as well. We become locked-and-loaded when it comes to our personal beliefs about which self-help option is better than others. In doing this, we are imposing our belief systems onto others who may never have the ability to assimilate to our way of thinking or doing things. With this limited approach, we can ultimately be creating another barrier for the person by only presenting certain options for them in saving their lives.
Recovery Worked for Them, Will It Work for Me?
Many of us have come into the recovery process and receive information that may have worked for our predecessors (the founders, our sponsor, or our sponsor’s sponsor). While this information does have a history of being beneficial and has helped a great number of addicted people, we are sometimes quick to point a finger at someone who relapses and that they didn’t recover because they:
*Can’t commit to the process
*Haven’t hit bottom (whatever that is to the person)
*Aren’t ready to stop engaging in the behavior
*Haven’t experienced enough pain
*Can’t be honest with themselves and others
*Fear letting go
*Fear change or incorporating something new into their life
If we acknowledge the above reasons as possible barriers to a person’s ability to stay in the recovery process, it may be time to begin looking through a different lens. When a recovering individual comes back from a relapse, we are quick to say, “what are you going to do differently this time?”
With the person who continues to relapse, we have the person come back to the same meetings, read the same literature, re-engage with the same people, use the same sponsor and give them the same directions that this person has probably heard thousands of times.
Given this, what approach should we begin looking into if we are sincerely invested in helping the individual? I get it; we pass on the information that worked for us. However, there’s that saying, “what keeps me clean/sober may get you drunk/high.” These little sayings we hear aren’t as little as they seem. They have a deeper meaning that we may want to explore.
Sharing my Recovery, But Taking Care of Me, First
There is a level of selfishness in the recovery process. Meaning, that I must take care of my recovery first because anything I place before it, I will lose. At times, our selfishness can exist at a deeper level, even when trying to help our fellow recovering person. We become so consumed with relaying to others what works for us (as people), that we could be restricting the person that may need other options besides or in addition to what worked for us.
Allowing the ego and our idea that many of us are experts at recovery creates a disconnect from many of the beautiful aspects and concepts of recovery. The “HOW” (Honesty, Open-mindedness,and Willingness) of many of the self-help groups is critical not only to the struggling individual but also to those who are supporting or guiding that person in their recovery.
1. Honesty may relate to our ability to say that we do not have the capability to help that struggling person based on the knowledge we may have about recovery.
2. Open-mindedness can be connected to our looking at other possible options for the person in trying to save that person’s life.
3. Willingness may be as simple as giving the person directions or guide them to others who use other means to recover than what we use.
Although the HOW of the program isn’t identified in this way within the literature, we may want to begin thinking along different lines if we are to help those who may be incapable of grasping the program as we may have.
Recovery Gives Us Options
When we entered the recovery process, most of us were told that we would experience options and choices that we didn’t have in our use. Therefore, doesn’t this new person have options and choices in what self-help option is best for them? There are choices in which we should be familiar with due to the continued complexity of addiction. 12-Step Self-help options may include the following:
*Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous
While not a complete list of the self-help options, it does prove that there are options and choices for people who may do better in one group than another. Our efforts in helping the recovering person should be filled with a genuine, sincere, compassionate and non-judgmental approach. It’s important to keep in mind that we all have different beliefs. For example, if Alcoholics Anonymous works for one person, SMART Recovery may work best for someone else, and the third may find their help and companionship in Celebrate Recovery.
I’ve always held onto the following statement: “If my behind is on fire, I don’t care who has the water, please put it out.” In other words, I wouldn’t recommend the one size fits all approach to “every” recovering person because waiting for that one special person to come who says they have the water when there are others standing around with the water, can be harmful to your recovery. Remain open-minded in the process and find where you fit in your recovery. Recovery is a process, not a destination.
For a listing of all types of recovery support meetings,I would urge you to read this post from Marilyn L. Davis.
More posts from Craig W. Stratton on From Addict 2 Advocate
Writing, and recovery heals the heart