Tuesday, March 11, 2014

This is Not a Game

When people gather at a recovery meeting there are some who have been in recovery for decades and some for hours and everywhere in between those two extremes. Some have worked the 12 steps multiple times and others have yet to take step one. What is absolutely true for all of us in recovery is this is life and death. It is not a hobby, it's not an optional activity, it's not a casual evening out.

Recovery is a lifetime commitment to face the hurts, habits and hang-ups that hold us back from being fully engaged and both physically and emotionally present in the lives of the ones we love. Instead of retreating to the self-medication of addiction we choose to stay in touch with our feelings and, in so doing, connected to the important people in our lives.

Recently I had the chance to talk about recovery with someone who isn't in it but needs to be...desperately. He may not yet be ready for it, but at least he was open to the conversation. He admitted that when he acts out in his addiction he's usually less tolerant, irritated and edgy with his family. It's a sign of the distance addiction puts between us and our loved ones. And the truth is unless we get into recovery that distance grows until the gap is too great to cross.

Clinging to addiction does incalculable damage and recovery addresses this. However, it doesn't always reverse it. The sooner you admit that your efforts to control your addictive and compulsive behaviors are a miserable failure the more likely you are to avoid unrecoverable damage. As long as you go into recovery fully aware that it's for life, it's for real and it is not a game, you'll have a chance.

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