Today, I want to discuss the topic of Recovery. Before we go any further, please know that everything written here is based on my personal experience. After 12 years in active addiction and over 8 years in recovery, as well as working closely with and in the treatment field, I have reached a very clear understanding of what recovery means to me. I am excited to share this with you, but I also want to remind you: Recovery is not universal and you don’t have to agree with everything I believe. That is ok!
There are different types of recovery, but they all pertain to a life free from addiction. You can be in recovery from gambling, drugs, pornography, sexual immorality, codependence, alcohol, or whatever else is creating havoc in your life. Living in recovery means that you are no longer a slave to your addiction. In recovery, we learn to live healthy and functional lives, with the understanding that we must adhere to specific guidelines if we hope to be successful. Free from major turmoil and at peace. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous refers to this lifestyle as, “happy, joyous, and free.” I found this idea to be true. But it comes with time, effort, and most importantly, action.
As mentioned above, I am a recovered drug addict and alcoholic. I can only speak from my personal experience, so these thoughts on recovery come from the perspective of a drug addict and an alcoholic in recovery. Much of this information applies to all addictions, but some may not.
The short answer is no. No, sobriety is not equal to recovery. To be sober is to abstain from drugs and alcohol. Being in recovery though, is to live a proactive lifestyle that promotes sobriety, good behavior, and wellbeing. Recovery is about taking care of your mind, body, and spirit. Many people think that by getting sober, that these things will happen automatically. If only that were true! Personally, I thought that my drug and alcohol use were the main problems in my life. All my legal troubles came because of my drinking and drug behavior, so surely that is the problem…right? Wrong.
My drinking and drug use were symptoms of a deeper issue. Several in fact. My substance use was a coping mechanism. I used it to cope with EVERYTHING, both good and bad. I also have an addictive personality. So, I became mentally obsessed with my habits. Due to the nature of the substances I was using, I developed a physical dependence on them. If I didn’t use, I became ill. I celebrated every positive event in my life the same way I battled my depression, anxiety, and relationship struggles: by getting high and drunk.
After spending several years living this way, I did not understand how to process things in a healthy manner. I was not able to exercise patience, because I was used to a quick fix, instant gratification. If I didn’t like something, I would not do it. Relationships, jobs, court hearings… if I didn’t like the way it was going, I would just leave. Instant gratification and running from my problems are just a few examples. The point is, I had many character defects prior to using any substances. I had also adopted some very unhealthy lifestyle habits while living in my addiction. In sobriety, I quickly realized that my substance use was only the tip of the iceberg. I had a lot of work to do.
One area that requires special attention in my life, was my lack of regard for how my behavior impacts other people. I had developed a lifestyle that created problems in my family, my friendships, and in society. I was selling and using drugs, driving under the influence, accepting stolen property in exchange for drugs at times, and many other things. However, if you were to ask me why I kept living this way, I would say, “it’s my life and my human body. I’m not hurting anyone but myself.”
In sobriety, I quickly realized that this was far from the truth. Through working a program of recovery, I began learning how to live in a way that contributes to others, rather than a living a lifestyle that takes from everyone. The way we think and behave while under the influence of drugs and alcohol is selfish, irrational, unhealthy, and very dangerous. As a result, we establish some very unhealthy thought patterns and behaviors. This is why a program of recovery is so important. Recovery is exactly what it sounds like. Recovery is building your strength back…becoming well. We begin to address the root cause of our choices and behaviors. We work to find a solution and we seek progress daily, while also abstaining from the use of drugs and alcohol.
First and foremost, recovery is not universal. It looks different for many people. What works for me may not work for you. This is one of the reasons we have different types of treatment centers. Different people respond to different styles of treatment. Each person is different, and many folks have chronic pain, mental disabilities, etc. that require special attention by a licensed therapist, and here is how to find one in Fort Worth: How to Find Therapists in Fort Worth.
These things cannot be ignored. The same applies when discussing recovery programs. For the majority, the most important factors to living a successful life in recovery are these:
Recovery programs come in many different forms. One of the most popular and successful programs is the Twelve Step model. It can be highly beneficial; especially when combining that with therapy. On my personal journey in recovery, the spiritual aspect has been extremely important. The Twelve Steps helped me develop an understanding of what that meant and how to build a relationship with God. My life has continued to improve since beginning to work these steps and practice these principles. I do not expect this to change as long as I continue to do what I have been doing.
The most important thing is to get involved in some type of program, regardless of which one you choose. In this case, doing something is much better than doing nothing. In recovery, peer support and a new system for your life are both very important. Below are some options of different programs that can provide this for you:
For anyone beginning their journey into recovery, please don’t give up. There is a solution and a better life for you that does exist. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please feel free to reach out to me. The life you will be leaving behind pales in comparison to the beautiful things your future in recovery has to offer you. There is only one way to find out what that looks like – today is the best day to start your journey!
Neal Williams is a life coach and a recovered addict and alcoholic. Among other things, he works with individuals and families fighting the disease of addiction. He started his coaching business at the beginning of 2020, Elevated Lifestyle Academy, after volunteering in the treatment field for 5 years. In sobriety, he was blessed with a wonderful job opportunity, despite having a criminal record and no college degree. In 2019, only a few months after being promoted to General Manager of the company he was with, he came to realize that his work was no longer fulfilling. His passion is in helping people live a healthy and more productive lifestyle. Many of the people he works with are like he was at one time: struggling to find a reason and a way to live free from addiction to drugs and alcohol.