One thing you don’t hear about addiction is that is is possible to recover on your own. Rather what we are told is that people should go to 12-step programs or rehab, if they want to be successful at beating their addiction. The popular advice may be to seek out professional help, but the reality is that millions of addicted people are navigating their own recovery - and finding success with it. I know this because I was one of these people.
In the beginning stages of my recovery, I spent a lot of time reading about nutrition and wellness. I didn’t even dive into the subject of addiction because I was still dabbling in denial. I just wasn’t ready to say my life was uncomfortable because of addiction, but I could wrap my head around calling myself a health nut.
At a later stage, I would skulk around in book stores flipping through books about addiction, but never buying them. I wanted to bring them home and devour them, but couldn’t bring myself to carry them to the front desk and have the check-out person judge me for my purchase.
I would read articles and blogs about addiction on the internet, and could relate to the stories on many levels. I wanted to dig deeper but felt ashamed of buying a book (online and having it delivered) that might reveal to my husband, family or friends that addiction was a real problem for me.
Eventually, I ordered a book from Amazon, and casually mentioned to my husband that I might need to explore my relationship with alcohol. To my surprise, he was not shocked. I think he had been waiting for the day with great anticipation - hoping I would take some action towards changing my lifestyle.
I started to order book after book, and read each one in day or two after arrival at my front door. I read over 100 books about addiction and recovery, before I was ever comfortable enough with the my identity as someone who was addicted and required recovery.
From the start though, I was someone who valued long-term gain over short-term pain. I knew my lifestyle was making me sick and bringing me down, and that it needed a significant change to improve my future. I believed in myself enough to know that I would do what it would take to make changes. I didn’t know what those changes were going to be - but I was going to get it done.
Many of us are able to make it through the contemplative stage of change (beginning stages of recovery) on our own. What do we have in common that makes us candidates for success? Endurance and Resourcefulness.
Endurance: We can commit to a long-haul, and dedicate copious amounts of energy and hope, without giving up.
Resourcefulness: We are able to do the research, tap into our past experience and contacts and get creative about building a plan - and evaluating it as we go.
Much later, after many months of practicing an alcohol free life, I began to get involved in group programs (SMART Recovery) and taking courses (Addiction Studies). I would never have been able to embrace these programs in the beginning stages of recovery. I needed my privacy and pace - and the right to decide what was okay, and not okay for me.
Many people believe that AA or a group program is essential for recovery, particularly in the very beginning stages of getting sober. This may be true for some individuals, but not for all. In my opinion, we all take a different route to freedom. It matters more that we just get there, than how we get there.