The journey toward recovery is different for everybody. We all begin our run from the same starting line, but our experiences vary widely. The counselor in your drug treatment program will help you reach your goals, even though you don’t know what they are yet.
What do you need right now? Getting to know what other addicts think is an important part of learning to trust yourself and building a sober support network. We’ve asked a lot of addicts what they wanted as they began traveling toward recovery, and this is what they said:
- I needed a wakeup call. Even when I was forced into treatment, I didn’t realize that I had almost ruined my life. No matter how bad people said I had behaved, I figured that there were others out there who had done way worse things. It took a good kick in the pants before I could listen to other people’s stories of getting clean, so that I could think about doing that for myself.
- I needed hope. I had to know that there was hope for me. I felt so alone with my problems, and I was afraid that I would be the one person in my group who wouldn’t be able to get sober and stay that way. Listening to the problems that other addicts had made me feel less alone and helped me to be happy about every stage of improvement, because recovery is always a work in progress.
- I had to learn how to be honest. I had to get past the idea that addiction was shameful and accept that I needed it. No matter how much information my counselor gave me, it didn’t do me any good until I was honest with myself. I made much more progress when I began realizing that I could only get out of the recovery program whatever I put into it.
- I needed to accept my responsibility. I had to admit my faults, and I learned that the 12 Steps taught me to make amends to others. I also learned that making amends to others means doing so in a way that won’t cause them even more pain.
- Live meetings were a necessity. Even though everybody dreads going to their first AA or NA meeting, you can’t maintain your recovery without the help of others. It was hard to connect with a sponsor, too, because I’m not a phone person. At first I just wanted to text the person, and my first sponsor didn’t use a cell phone. Then, even though I liked that person, I found another sponsor who would text with me whenever I needed. Eventually, as I got better at going to meetings and talking to people, I actually found that I got over my reluctance to use the phone, and I included that original sponsor into my support network also.
- I needed space. Even though I went to the live meetings, I needed for people not to be pushy. I just have an introverted personality. I actually began going to both AA and NA meetings, all throughout the week, until I found a group where I really seemed to fit.
- How about unconditional love? As the adult child of an alcoholic, I fell into alcoholism because it was in my family culture. I mean, I’m taking responsibility for it, but the truth is that when you live in a home with an abusive, drunk parent, you grow up feeling insecure about yourself.
Those are the thoughts of just a few people willing to share how recovery started for them. Don’t let yourself be discouraged by the idea that recovery is a lifetime journey. One person who recently graduated from his drug treatment program told us that beyond recovery comes a new level—freedom: Freedom to love yourself again, and freedom to succeed in life. You’ve already begun that journey.