I’m as guilty as anyone writing about the problem more than the solution. It’s no wonder that many in society have a negative perception of addiction — they hear about the problem and consequences of addiction and substance abuse, yet hardly ever hear about or read about recovery. I’ve worked in this field long enough to see recovery happen over and over. People ask if working in this field is depressing, and if it leads to burn out. The answer is no, not if you don’t take it personally and follow up on those who recover. Addiction is a disease of relapse, so, even if a person relapses several times, if that person is sincerely trying, then recovery can happen — the relapses become learning experiences and reinforcement of recovery principles. Recovery management is a concept that addresses the chronic nature of addiction.
I started working in inpatient in a town that is a real recovery-based community — even the local university has an addiction support system to deal with students who are recovering from a problem with alcohol or other drugs. The treatment facility also had a half-way house component, so I witnessed long-term recovery many times over. In practically all the incidences in which recovery happened, the person used all the support resources available to manage recovery. Many people in recovery return to school to finish their education, exercise, eat better, work on relationship problems, gain stable employment, learn to manage money, take care of their appearance, develop their interests that were before neglected, etc. A person recovering from addiction doesn’t have to go inpatient and a half-way house, this is just where I first witnessed the process of recovery. Recovery can managed through outpatient and ongoing community and family support, or a person can go into Alcoholics Anonymous and learn to manage recovery with the help of others. There are many pathways to recovery.
Recovery is recovery of the whole person. Addiction tears down the whole person, mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually, so in recovery all these areas should be part of recovery. Attending Alcoholics Anonymous or some other support group is critical for long term success for most people in recovery. I won’t say everyone has to go to a 12 step groups or a support group, but I will say that I’ve seen the most success when do attend AA, NA, church groups dedicated to recovery or some other type of group support. Here is a link to a website that writes about recovery.