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Recovery is a process. Recovery is so much more than simply abstaining. Recovery is even more than having control over your addiction. Recovery is creating a life. If someone has been clean and sober for ten years, but still finds their life in shambles in a way that no one can even stand to be around them. Are they truly in recovery? Some would say yes because they are not using, but many would say no because it seemed they were happier or more productive while using. So the question becomes what is recovery and long term recovery?
Recovery does include abstinence from your addiction. If you are in recovery you have probably stopped using and are drug, alcohol, or addiction free, but if you are still struggling to make your life worth living then you have not yet reached long term recovery. In fact, this writer would argue that you are only in partial recovery if you are totally clean, but still struggling to make yourself a useful part of society in some way. It is not the number of days, weeks, months, or even years sober that defines recovery, but what recovery has done to change who you were and who you are to become. Even if you have 30 years in recovery, but are living as an addict, just not using, then you are only partially recovered.
Recovery (or remission) is about choice. Addiction takes away your ability to make free choices. Addiction takes over the brain and body in a way that one must take part in the addiction to survive, at least that is what the brain and body are telling you. Once you have detoxed you must learn to utilize your power of free will and choice to better your life. Until you harness the right and ability to make good decisions for yourself, you cannot fully recover. Addiction may have ruled your life for a time, but now it the time for you to take control and decide what your life will be long term. Everyone has this right, but not everyone will do what is necessary to take control.
Some addicts will fall into the victim trap in that they are always going to be an addict, this is true as far as you have a problem with addiction, but you are not using and can control whether you do again. Each choice you make will impact the rest of your life. Imagine throwing a tiny pebble into a still pond. A tiny pebble can create ripples that last and spread for quite a while. The same is true of decisions in recovery. Simple decisions can have extreme effects. Perhaps you want to attend a party, knowing you won’t drink but also knowing that alcohol will be served. Is the party worth the temptation? You have the right to choose.
Addiction recovery means relearning to think for yourself. You cannot let others make your decisions and expect that the best outcome will occur. Take charge and take action. What part of recovery are you in at this point? Are you simply abstaining or actually recovering? The choice is yours to make.
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