What is recovery? For so many people, it doesn’t just mean getting sober. It means adopting a new lifestyle of constant self-improvement not just to remain sober, but also to lead a happier, healthier life. It’s a process of learning how to better ourselves. The question is, how many different ways are there to do that? Is there only one path to recovery? Some people seem to think so.
Paths To Recovery
Some people get sober through addiction treatment. This may be a 30-day program or longer, or an outpatient program. The bottom line is as long as they are not dying and are able to live a fulfilling life why must there be so much judgment. Just like there is not a specific life that every person is supposed to live there should not be only one way to recovery.
Others quit without the help of treatment. Still, others use 12- step program to get sober, or to stay sober after treatment. Often, treatment and twelve-step programs go hand in hand. This is partially due to many treatment centers integrating twelve step teachings and practices into their programs. It is in treatment that people are introduced to these programs. Treatment centers are now also offering information and exposure to SMART recovery which is a non-12 step support program for those not interested in the 12-step approach.
Twelve step programs are popular and have helped countless individuals over the years to get sober and live a life of recovery. People who participate in 12 step programs work steps, get sponsors, sponsor other and find a higher power. Because this program works for so many people, members tend to be fiercely loyal, often to the point of discounting other methods of recovery.
Not everyone who achieves sobriety chooses to participate in twelve step programs. Some choose to heal from addiction in other ways. They may choose to get help via therapy, they may pursue a spiritual or religious path, or they may focus on health, wellness and holistic means of staying sober.
In twelve step programs, people are taught that trying to stay sober via religion, medicine and psychiatry are basically futile, and will only result in relapse. But is this true?
Sobriety Via Therapy
Intensive therapy can help people heal from negative thinking patterns, past trauma and teach valuable tools and strategies for dealing with issues such as anger, anxiety and impulsivity. People who struggle with addiction often struggle with depression, anxiety, untreated trauma and PTSD as well as a lack of coping skills. As a result, they often turn to substances to help them cope with these issues.
For some people, stopping drug or alcohol use, removing themselves from unsafe situations and participating in regular therapy is sufficient to help them move on from addiction and live a life of sobriety.
Sobriety Via Medication
Some people struggling with addiction turn to medication. For example, those addicted to opioids may choose to slowly wean off drugs through the use of methadone or suboxone. This is often referred to as harm reduction, and ideally, the person will slowly taper off the medication and achieve sobriety. This particular path is often the topic of criticism from many sides. This is partially due to the fact that many people who choose medication don’t stop. They may choose to remain on methadone for life. While it is tempting to judge this situation, it really doesn’t help matters. Each person must determine what is best for them and their situation. While harm reduction isn’t necessarily recovery or sobriety, there are many people who are able to lead responsible, productive lives as a result of the help they receive. And if they are not dying do we really have the right to tell them that it’s wrong.
Holistic Treatments, Health, And Wellness
Some people turn to a more holistic path to sobriety. They may engage in practices such as yoga, meditation, acupressure and more. They may use supplements and nutrition to help keep them feeling well and balanced. While this may not be sufficient for some, it may very well help others. If someone manages to stay sober because they have a solid meditation and yoga practice, does it mean they are “less recovered?”
Religion And Spirituality
A faith centered Program called Celebrate Recovery uses a faith-based approach to recovery and follows a similar approach to AA with meetings for members and 12-steps. Then there are also people who choose to turn to their faith or spiritual practice to overcome addiction. This may include attending church, studying their faith of choice and involving themselves in the faith community. If someone is able to stop using as a result of their beliefs and the support that they get from their faith and the surrounding community, is it not recovery?
Tolerance For Different Paths
Anyone who is able to achieve sobriety, regardless of how they do it, is a success. Not everyone wants to or feels the need to attend meetings.
In the recovery world, there is a problem with intolerance. People often judge the way people go about getting sober. If they don’t do it “their way” then they must not be doing it right.
This intolerance is even seen between twelve step programs, with one side thinking their way is better than the other. This is the opposite of what the programs teach, tolerance being a founding principle.
Each person is different. Their needs, temperament, values and experience makes them who they are and often determines the best route to sobriety. If a person is able to stay sober by a means other than rehab or twelve step programs, then that is wonderful, who are we to judge. Life is not black and white it is filled with different shades of gray, and there is beauty in that. The expression “Live and let live comes to mind.
If you find that meetings and the twelve step fellowship are what you need to maintain your sobriety, then that is wonderful, too. Do you!! Find what helps you live a healthy and balanced life and do that. That’s really what counts.
Some people struggle with addiction and may try many different paths before they find the one that works for them. It’s important not to judge one another’s journey. Better to support them and wish them well no matter what route they take.
Rose Lockinger is passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.
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