Part Four – Drunk On Words, what recovery efforts are needed when we are addicted to life?
In Part One I shared a bio of my alcoholic self and asked for you to put your alcoholic self on paper. The first step was to differentiate between problem drinking and alcoholism (Part Two). I then asked, “What would you like your recovery to look like?” In order to successfully recover we need to understand what it is we are recovering from. Our recovery efforts need to address our addictions to life. Once we do our soul searching, decide sobriety is the goal, we need to consider our plan of action. The plan of action we choose will set the foundation of our recovery.
What is recovery?
The first three parts I challenged your vocabulary with words like, alcoholism and sobriety. In part four we discuss recovery. It is not my attempt to belittle your intelligence, but very little thought is put into the words needed to understand the alcoholic and/or problem drinker. Recovery is another word which is speculative and up for interpretation.
Recovery, per Merriam-Webster, the process of combating a disorder (such as alcoholism) or a real or perceived problem.
Alcoholism, AUD, is considered a medical condition characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/understanding-alcohol-use-disorder
My focus is on the second part of the definition, “a real or perceived problem.” Alcohol was a crutch I used to deal with my real life, daily struggles. Following many months of overthinking my problem, I determined the true source of my problem was as simple as me. I am an addict to life. This shifted my personal recovery plan, but I would not have changed the foundation of my plan. The foundation is what led me to where I am today.
You have choices when addicted to life to assist in your recovery efforts.
There are several options for alcohol recovery. The key is finding the program which will help you to maintain your sobriety. And like anything else in life, you get out of it what you put into it.*
During my stint in rehab I was introduced to a program which has been life changing. The program wishes to remain anonymous so I will respect it’s anonymity and briefly share my experience. When I first was struggling with alcohol I knew I had a problem which wasn’t being resolved by self-will. I wanted change, but couldn’t fathom a life without drinking alcohol.
The group I initially chose to work with was strictly for alcohol recovery. This group of people gather together to share their experiences so we do not need to go at it alone. The program implements steps to guide me to improving myself. It isn’t affiliated with any religious group and/or one central figure. The focus is on me, the individual, and seeking out something greater than myself, because it was myself which has constantly failed me in the past. It is a brilliant concept. Alcoholics and non-alcoholics would all benefit from the step work.
Step groups are much more than addiction recovery groups. The individual works on character building. It is the person which needs are addressed, self-exploration and identifying the triggers. The group focuses on the addict having an allergy, a reaction to alcohol where an obsession of the mind occurs. The result the alcoholic needing more alcohol to achieve the same effect. I have struggled with identifying as an alcoholic for this reason. The group also mentions the alcoholic has a spiritual malady which appeals to me.
Alternatives to Step Recovery
The SMART Recovery, Self-management and Recovery training is a scientific based recovery program. SMART relies on science, not tapping into our inner-being. After two years of a pandemic where I felt deceived by humans and their science, I was leery, not trusting of the science field. Science is also ever-changing and I needed something that has years of a proven track record, not a recovery program based on speculation. SMART doesn’t incorporate any step work, but has a four point program. The program addresses motivation, cope with urges, behavior management, and living a balanced life. Where the step program addresses the struggles and obstacles which lead to the addiction among other key factors. The SMART program can be used in conjunction with the step program. SMART doesn’t label addicts, referencing the participants as addicts or alcoholics.
LifeRing, Women for Sobriety, SOS (secular organizations for sobriety) and Moderation Management are all groups which aid in recovery. There is a group for everyone who is interested in maintaining abstinence or sobriety.
Professional Led Treatment
Medication assisted behavioral plans may be used in conjunction with group recovery programs. The medication can be used to prevent relapse, normalize brain chemistry, block the euphoric reaction of substances, alleviate withdraw symptoms, and reduce cravings. While medications may help with the initial recovery it doesn’t offer a solution to the root of the problems. I wasn’t looking to replace one drug with another.
Talk therapy with a licensed therapist offers one on one work with the addict to build coping skills. Group therapy is very similar but works with other addicts, like minded people sharing. Through group sharing we also learn to be more compassionate.
If your goal is to simply stop consuming alcohol but not better yourself white knuckling or becoming a dry drunk might be your solution. You will find, many will not enjoy your company and at times you will be consumed with bitterness. By holding on to bitterness and resentment the roots of the problems are not being addressed. We need to recover from our past to be able to maintain the health of our future.
Addicted to my life and my recovery efforts.
For the first eighteen months of my recovery I participated in the above mentioned alcohol step-group. The alcoholics I have met have earned my respect and have made me want to be a better person. If you are struggling with alcohol, have unresolved problems from your past or simply a lonely drinker, there are people just like yourself who meet daily, supporting one another.
My focus shifted when I decided I was lacking something in my life, not necessarily the over-indulgence of alcohol. The spirit in the bottle was initially being used as a substitute for the lack of having a Spiritually driven life. An organization called Celebrate Recovery is for those who are struggling with either hurts, habits, or hang-ups and is Christ centered. Not only do addicts and alcoholics meet once a week, but (wo)men going through a divorce and people grieving from a broken past meet to heal together.
For me it is important to maintain my past relationships, even with those friends and family who consume alcohol. I did not want to focus on alcohol being the root of my problem. Another deciding factor for me was the availability of in-person meetings. When I researched meeting locations in four states for SMART I wasn’t given the options for in-person meetings. The step groups have numerous meetings daily at numerous locations. Celebrate Recovery meets most of my criteria for recovery. I choose to heal with the women who have and are courageous enough to confront their demons head-on. Listening and sharing with these women is how I choose to continue my on-going recovery. Which brings us to recovering vs. recovered alcoholics. https://alcoholrehab.com/alcohol-recovery/aftercare/recovering-alcoholic-or-recovered-alcoholic/
The “ing” implies to recover is ongoing. To identify as a recovering alcoholic is a reminder of the ongoing challenge the alcoholic has with maintaining sobriety. Personally, I have stopped obsessing over alcohol early on in my recovery. But I have worked the steps and continue to do the work. If I lose sight of my sobriety then I may fall victim to my old alcoholic self.
The “ed” implies the recovery was a success. Today I can say I am a recovered alcoholic but tomorrow is a new day. To be recovered would give a false sense and might prevent me from the effort it takes to remain sober-minded.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”Matthew 5:4 NIV
*Drunk On Words, Recovery efforts, addicted to life, is based on my personal recovery.
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As an imperfect human my growth is spurred on by a life catastrophe, because I chose to ignore my struggles. Instead of choosing to look inward and identify the source of the problem, which was ME, I placed blame on the society around me. The end result was to numb my discomfort and quell my anxieties with that one glass of wine. By the grace of God I was able to seek forgiveness and unearth my flaws. Through sharing with others I was able to accept my flawed self and learn I did not need to suffer alone. The result peace, from a loving God, not the spirit in the bottle.