In July 2020, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) put out a publication titled, “Treatment and Recovery,” and right up front it has what I consider to be one of the most important “affirmations” I’ve ever heard – that is, in terms of affirmations regarding my, yours or anyone’s capacity to recover from a substance use disorder (a.k.a., chemical dependency) and remain free of active addiction, one day at a time.
And the meat of this empowering declaration starts with the word, “Yes!”
It begins, “Can addiction be treated successfully? Yes, addiction is a treatable disorder. Research on the science of addiction and the treatment of substance use disorders has led to the development of research-based methods that help people to stop using drugs and resume productive lives, also known as being in recovery.”
Now, why do I feel so inspired by NIDA’s proclaiming this in what could be considered a rather modest manner (i.e., somewhat buried in their archive of online publications)?
Because this is a U.S. government agency, based on science and evidence-based practices, saying “Yes!” to the prospect of an addict, someone (like I was) seemingly hopelessly afflicted by a substance use disorder, through treatment having a different way of life—i.e., different than the typically hurtful and ruinous ongoing nightmare I’d experienced in active addiction. Different, as in recovering one’s sanity and serenity, one’s ability to connect with others, to love and be loved, to regain one’s health, well-being and standing within one’s family and community.
For me, this particular “Yes!” was the beginning of hope.
You see, it was important when I first came into recovery that I was told I could recover. And I was not only told this by respectable people who were schooled and deeply experienced in the field of addiction, but also my many people who had experienced addiction themselves. (I heard them share their stories and they sounded so similar to mine.) But it was obvious these people had also recovered and now had many years of recovery under their belts.
Not only that, they were clearly living an extraordinarily better quality of life than what I had been experiencing when I was chemically dependent on drugs and alcohol.
So yes, I was deeply and remarkably encouraged and hopeful upon hearing the personal stories confirming that these people—who’d had histories of addiction to drugs and alcohol quite similar to mine—had recovered from the throes of addiction.
But I also appreciated people with academic and scientific backgrounds demonstrating, through rigorous research, there were a whole slew of positive results that had shown up in hundreds of thousands of people’s lives… lives that were formerly consumed, ravaged and truly crippled by the disease of addiction… but whose very same lives, after undergoing treatment, had “come back from the dead” in more ways than I could have imagined!
Research had shown countless addicts who underwent treatment had their health and wellness restored. Previously broken relationships restored. Careers restored. Sense of self-worth restored. And the list of life-affirming benefits to these people who’d found recovery goes on and on.
So, when both researchers in the field of addiction medicine and countless recovering addicts say “Yes!” to recovery and the transformative power of treatment, I look back and see how important it was for me to hear that message… that I could recover!
And now, many, many years later, as I reflect upon my life in recovery, I am humbled knowing I have a choice to make each morning I awaken – Do I want to continue striding upon this new shore in this new world, a world full of possibilities, of increasingly better health, improved inner well-being, and a greater sense of purpose in my own life and the life of my community?
Well, as you might imagine, I’ve come to find it’s like breathing air—literally just that easy—to gratefully say to myself, “Yes!” to recovery, one day at a time!
 National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Treatment and Recovery.” July 2020.