The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

March 3, 2014

Each person’s path is unique when recovering

By MELINDA KAPALIN
For the Star Beacon

— “Don’t drink or use drugs and just go to meetings.” This phrase is heard throughout recovery programs around the world. Don’t pick up a drink or take those pills is a simple statement. If you don’t start again, you won’t be facing getting picked up for a DUI, jail, or overdosing. Sounds simple? Not really.

For the addict or alcoholic, ending the use of their drug of choice is often a result of a serious legal consequence. The prospect of jail will certainly get the attention of most people and so the opportunity to stay out of jail and go to treatment is a welcomed option. The threat of jail may be the wake-up call that they needed but without the true desire to change their life, it might not keep them out of jail.

Some addicts think that they can just pretend to go along with the court recommendations and fake their way through the process. It doesn’t work for long. Lying and trying to cover up the use and abuse of alcohol and drugs doesn’t work. It simply leads back to jail. Following the entire recovery plan does work.

The first part of the plan, don’t drink or use drugs is necessary for the recovering client to start to develop a clear mind. Substances alter our thinking, feeling, emotions, and physical health. In order to see the world as it really is, clients need to stop self-medicating themselves and face reality. It doesn’t feel good and it takes time to adjust to living without reaching for that drink, pill or joint to help you relax. But there are people and programs to help get through the rough times.

That is the second part of the phrase “...go to meetings”. It might be an AA or NA meeting that will have supportive sober members who share their stories and journey of recovery. Each person’s path is different and unique but all are recovering from an addiction, a sense of being powerless over a substance that controls their lives.

There are also other meetings and classes that can help. Research has shown that the most successful recovery programs offer classes and connections to other community agencies that can help in rebuilding a new life. Anyone who is successful in recovery knows that they will not stay clean and sober if they go back to the same life and friends that they had in the past. It is too easy to slip back into the old habits of addiction.

By learning new coping skills and making connections with mental health agencies, community neighborhood programs, or trying new educational opportunities, people expand their worlds. Through these initiatives, they may be able to get assistance with housing, grants for more education, or even employment.

Recovery is not a time to build walls and refuse to participate in new programs or make new connections. The research data shows that the long term success rate for recovery of an addiction is greatest is the individuals who actively worked at creating a new life with the help of the recovery community and social service agencies.

Being given the chance to change your life is also a chance to save your life. If you need help due to a dependency on alcohol or drugs, call for help today at (440) 998-0722. There are caring professionals and sponsors who will guide you through the process of creating a new life. Make the choice today to being the best you can be.

Remember, education and prevention are keys to keeping us sober and drug-free.