Recovery Month: There is Hope
September is National Recovery Month, an annual observance to educate people on mental health and addiction services and how these services can support those struggling to reach a place of recovery. This post serves to highlight the hope in recovery as well as link to some of the services in the Birmingham area.
When I am talking with clients about concerns around substance use, there are two main areas of resistance (fear) that come up. The first is the notion of “I’m not that bad.” This statement is usually accompanied by examples of friends who also drink/use similar amounts or a list of reasons that separate them from someone with a more progressed problem. “I am still in school, I still have a job, I don’t black out every time I drink, sometimes I only have a few drinks, I don’t have withdrawals, etc.”
I’m only going to briefly touch on this first one because that is a separate post in and of itself. Addiction is a disease that is progressive, chronic, and fatal if left untreated. Like many issues, the earlier addiction is detected and treated, the better. While you still may have a job, be in school, feel in control in some instances, have good health, and have some positive relationships, if the addiction isn’t treated these will all be in jeopardy.
The second area of resistance (fear) is what will I do if I am not drinking or using. The substance has become a time filler, a way to connect with people, the thing that helps someone feel “normal.” The fear is that giving up the substance won’t be worth it, that little will change except for the absence of the substance. This fear is present even with the realization that substances aren't providing the same relief that they once were or have brought with it undesired consequences. There is a fear that you will not have something to replace it with, that you will be left feeling as though you do now just without the substance (this is a similar theme from my blog post last month with regards to eating disorder recovery which can be found here).
I wanted to highlight those who are in recovery and their words around what recovery means to them. Hearing others experiences, can provide us hope that there is a different way of life than what we can currently imagine, and give us the strength to begin making changes.
“Recovery has been an opportunity to engage in a way of life that changes how I view the world. The process allowed me to transition from a life of isolation and loneliness to a life filled with laughter and fellowship.”
-Shay Allen, Bradford Health Services
“For years I struggled with drug and alcohol use; recovery means that today I am free. I can be a son, a brother, an uncle, and a friend to the people I care about. Recovery has allowed. Me to become the best possible version of myself—a person I am no longer ashamed of seeing in the mirror. Recovery has given me a future.”
-John Butka, UAB Addiction Recovery Program
“What does recovery mean to me? The answer to that question will always grow as I continue to work a program of recovery. For starters, recovery means being awake. In my sobriety, I have become more aware of the relationship between myself, the person around me, and my environment. I am more aware of how my actions impact myself and others and I fully realize that I must treat myself and others with kindness, compassion, and respect. In active addiction, I was sleep to everything around me and consequently broke the hears of everyone who loved me, including myself. Recovery healed those hearts, it’s brough a sense of calmness and peace to our house and for that I am grateful. “
- Michael Grammas, Evenstill
“To me, recovery means connection with others and being able to really experience life. Today in recovery I am able to help others, show up for my family, and build a relationship with a higher power (which I didn’t think was possible!) I couldn’t have dreamed up the life recovery has given me”
“ Recovery to me means, I get to live a life I dreamed of, that I felt for so long I would never be capable of attaining. Its being present on a daily basis and not filling a void inside me with drugs/alcohol. Recovery is, for the first time, feeling true joy and passion for life.”
“Recovery means to me that I show up for myself every day. I get to feel everything and not cover that up with drugs or alcohol. I have found a way out and get to help others find their way too. I’m living a life beyond my wildest dreams.”
“ Recovery means growth. A daily opportunity to evolve the relationships between self, god, and others.”
-Anonymous, The 4th Dimension
“The first step for us to heal and recover is to admit that we have a problem. There comes a time when we must let ourselves be raw and vulnerable to ask for the help we so desperately need. Asking for that help doesn’t mean we failed at life, or lack willpower. It gives us a clear understanding that the helplessness and suffering will not just go away. Alcoholism and addiction is a disease that we can’t fight alone. It’s a wickedly dangerous cycle of instanity. That gut wrenching pain we’re feeling is temporary, and with each new day our beautiful souls are blessed with, we have the power to make it a better day than the day before.
Create your new self-confidence to radiate along whatever path you choose. Yes, we can still have hard nights and lazy days. Nightclub, or no nightclub, I’ll bet you will be much happier the next morning waking up without a hangover, drunken texts, a mascara-stained pillowcase, and filled with much more serenity. Before the beastly gripping disease or illness buries you in a cold, dark coffin-reach out and ask for help from that loved one or stranger. Stay strong. Lastly, anticipate the wondrous surprises to come in the new life you never imaged was possible.”
-Stephanie Schilling, Recovery Resource Center
“Recovery means hope to me!... as a parent of two children who have each struggled over a decade with SUD, I have been the person that became hopeless that they were going to survive or ever thrive again. It was not quick or simple and everyone’s path is different, but we are so grateful that both have found sobriety and are now healthy and living productive lives. They are my heroes and my daily reminder that there really is hope and recovery is possible!”
-Carie Wimberly, Addiction Prevention Coalition
My wish is that you are able to take with you some of the hope from these individuals who are living in recovery. Even if you personally cannot see a different way of life, I hope their messages provide strength to either begin or continue walking the path of recovery despite your uncertainty.