What’s the difference between Sobriety and Recovery?
It depends on who you ask:
Traditional programs such as Narcotics & Alcoholics Anonymous promote an abstinence-based, Spiritually-focused approach.
In this world, relapse is a part of Recovery but you must keep coming back. The general idea is that over time as you abstain, you will continue to attend meetings. This builds up your self-esteem, relationships and trust in the process.
The treatment centre I attended is also Abstinence-based. They do not promote harm reduction while attending in-patient treatment because it is not conducive to their process. Addictive substances need to be eliminated completely in order to deal with the addiction.
If someone is going through acute detox/withdrawal during treatment; they will not be able to focus on their recovery. This is one of the reasons I achieved two weeks of sobriety before entering treatment – I had to.
Typically; you are required to detox and abstain from substances for 48-72 hours before entering. There are Detox/Withdrawal management centres in every major Municipality throughout Canada.
Recovery is a process in which the individual begins healing while re-wiring the Risk vs. Reward balance. Abstaining from the “Drug of Choice” that brought the person down to their bottom is crucial.
As noted by the harm reduction specialist Andrew Tatarsky:
Our addictive behaviours are evident when we are under the most stress. Everyone has a “poison pill” – or a drug of particular choice. It can be shopping, eating, smoking, coffee, etc.
After I came home and had my 3rd baby in November; I definitely began going down again but this time I caught myself. I was self-medicating in a variety of ways but over-eating became a comfort mechanism for sure.
I’ve been able to maintain Sobriety from Opiates for 385 days and in Recovery for almost 2 years this November. I’ve had some real hardballs swing my way; my dog died, my marriage is ending, I am 8 months postpartum, etc.
SHAME VS. GUILT
However my true Spiritual Recovery did not begin until I let myself enjoy my life again. Harm reduction plays a huge role in that.
People for one; I had to change my people, places and things.
I’ve met some amazing people in my life; thankfully so because I needed their love and support to guide me somehow. Everyone who enters your life is there for a purpose.
However – There is a natural conclusion to every relationship when you think about it.
I’ve had to reach down into my self and admit the most horrible, shameful secrets one can have – to just about everyone I know. I also had to make amends to quite a few as well. This took a span of almost a year.
In Treatment, NA/AA – It is said you make amends and admit whom you have harmed as long as it is not harmful to yourself or others:
STEP 9: We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Shame As An Emotional Weapon:
When you open up yourself to someone; you are giving that person Emotional Power over you. The Power is quadrupled when it’s a Spouse, Parent, Child, etc. where the bond is supposed to be extraordinarily solid.
Such exists for everyone: a person who holds so much power over you in the form of emotional trust and trauma bonding; it can create a toxic sludge that only a complete gut job can solve.
If that trusted person decides to listen to their Ego aside from their heart; disaster will certainly follow. They will seek out validation from others in order to absolve themselves from any personal contribution to one’s addictive stages.
It’s not blaming, it’s just explaining.
What happens when introducing ego into a situation often prevents us from being rational, objective and clear headed.
It is extremely common for this to happen in our direct and immediate relationships as Addiction infects the Family.
This is a known problem with how Addiction becomes passed down through each Generation:
Shaming to Control others is an extremely popular Addictive Behaviour as it can directly relate to how powerful you feel within your Ego.
Example: If your ego is extremely large; you aren’t going to start abusing Opiates or Alcohol. That would require a deep decline in one’s self-esteem.
People are going to start doing things to retain their dominance and control; especially over how people perceive you – such as your Family. Usually it is to absolve themselves from their own Guilt or to make themselves look better.
Places and Things come on the latter side of the spectrum because without the People; you probably don’t have the same problems with Places and Things.
Unless of course, if addictive behaviour revolves around things like Shopping or Eating:
We require these activities to survive so obviously you need to examine your behaviours as these cause the same outcomes financially, personally and emotionally over time.
Physical and mental effects like anxiety, stress and depression as a result are similar.
Our parents, grandparents and even ourselves often parent our Children by shaming them to create guilt.
If our two older children fight over a toy; we reprimand the oldest for not being a better big sister who shares with the youngest. This response from the Parent will create a resentment over time. This implodes if the child does not receive validation for feeling upset over non-shared toy.
We aren’t exploring the cause and discussing how to avoid the effect:
In the face of an Active Addiction; those who are using are shamed for being unable to stop or Recover “Properly.”
This often happens within a Family which creates a perceived notion about the Addict; one they are unable to escape.
If the person being Gossiped about is not doing well Emotionally, Physically or Spiritually – it is common for anyone who feels guilt for their weak state to start defending themselves.
That is a natural human condition; we all want ourselves to be seen in the best light. No one wants to feel worthless or feel insecure.
Only problem is it can become very dark and negative, really quick if there are bad intentions coming from unsupportive people.
This is why we often have “Black Sheep” of the Family or the “Outcasts.”
These are the ones who usually wanted to completely detach from their toxic People, Places and Things.
Gaslighting is a means of applying Shame to create Guilt without directly doing so. This is done to psychologically weaken someone and their emotional strength.
It is emotional and psychological abuse inflicted upon someone by one, or two (or entire families) to exert power and control:
• This person is called “Crazy, Paranoid and Unstable.”
• “You are causing problems again.”
• Labelled as “Bi-Polar, Overly Emotional, Manic.”
Who the hell wants to live in a life where your worst mistakes and shame are used to control the decisions and life you want to live now?
You cannot move on, or grow – if everything and everyone around you pulls you back to where you felt the worst about yourself.
Everyone churns the same bullshit about you to guilt you into changing but not realizing it keeps us stagnant. If we do not grow and learn from our behaviours; we plateau.
Over time; this will erode your self-confidence, love and trust for yourself; eventually trickling down to your immediate people, places and things.
I’ll leave it at that tonight.