Typically, people who find their way into recovery—whether it be through a treatment center/rehab facility, a 12 Steps program or some combination of both—come in with some measure of humility. That is, having “reached the end of their rope” with their dependency on alcohol and/or drugs, they’ve likely faced a devastating array of problems:
- Emotionally, they’ve “hit bottom” and feel a profound emptiness or bankruptcy within
- Relationally, they’ve gravely damaged their trustworthiness in the eyes of others, perhaps burning bridges left and right with the dishonesty, lack of integrity and self-centeredness at the core of their disease
- Financially/career-wise, most have brought themselves to a state of depletion, if not ruin, because of their addiction, jeopardizing their own livelihood, as well as the ability to provide for their loved ones in any reliable manner
- Physically, their health has likely been ravaged by their excessive drinking and/or use of drugs, often to the point of hospitalization or life-threatening illness
- Spiritually, any conscious connection with a spiritual source or dimension of life has long been absent, leaving them in a state of reactivity, lack, compulsion, fear and/or anger.
Given all or even some portion of the above commonly applies to those entering the doors of recovery from addiction, it stands to reason there would be affair amount of humility present when it comes to “taking suggestions” from those who have extensive experience, knowledge and practice at how to acquire and maintain, one day at a time, recovery from addiction to alcohol and/or drugs.
And yet still, more often than you might imagine, a person who is new to recovery or coming back from a relapse (of however long) can be heard resisting or defiantly questioning, even rebelling against those who’ve committed themselves to helping chemically dependent people recover.
Yes, treatment staff members, counselors, therapists, 12 Steps sponsors… all of them have encountered this defiant attitude coming from a person who—despite all evidence to the contrary—believes he or she “knows how to recover” and is therefore determined not to heed this or that suggestion, request, recommendation or policy put in place to ensure everyone can safely move forward toward a new life of freedom from active addiction.
Fortunately, those who have had much experience in the field of recovery can (and do) turn to one very reasonable question to (hopefully) switch a lightbulb on in the resistant mind of the newcomer or returning-to-recovery alcoholic/addict: “If you COULD recover on your own, you probably would have already, right?”
Meaning, all of us who are dedicated to living free from active addiction and/or helping those seeking such freedom to achieve it have learned that recovery is a “we” program. We do need each other. Our predecessors in recovery, inclusive of those whose expertise and specialized education is in the field of addiction treatment, have experience-based understandings to help guide those who are addicted forward: toward healing physically from their dependence on alcohol and/or drugs, emotionally from the traumas or inner wounds that have caused so much pain, and spiritually, so that they’re restored to a sense of greater wholeness, self-worth and the capacity to love and be loved.
By following the suggestions, guidance and policies of those who have successfully helped countless others in the past, not only can these dimensions of life be recovered and rejuvenated, one can also reconnect with others in truly healthy ways (making amends where necessary), and one’s career and finances may be restored, beyond all previous expectations.
What’s required, really? Simply holding a proper sense of humility in the face of “what is.” If you haven’t been able to successfully maintain a life of recovery from dependency on alcohol and/or drugs, a humble attitude of acceptance of the suggestions, recommendations and guidelines of those who have demonstrated such can go a long way in smoothing the pathway forward!