Like in our last post I talked with a number of people with different experiences relating to addiction as well as recovery. It was clear just like with some of the other questions we have taken on about addiction, recovery is a subject with many opinions and ideas. Addiction is not a one size fits all category so of course recovery is not either. Some of the questions we talked about were: why are some people successful in recovery and others are not, is an addict always in recovery, how do addicts view other addicts, how to we define sobriety?
Even though we all seemed to have different perspectives on recovery, we all agreed that recovery is based on the individual, and has to be desired by the individual in order to be successful. If the addict wants to change they have the power to change, but the addict is the one that has to want to do it. We all felt that there were a number of factors that helped as well as hurt people working on recovery and these factors have a powerful effect on some people's success and others' failures. One person brought up to point that " Sobriety is not just not using anymore, you have to change your whole life. You have to change your friends, and family sometimes to get clean. That's what makes it so hard." Also another member in the discussion brought up the fact that so many social customs we have, especially for young people are based on drinking and drug use, and if you don't you are more isolated, you are looked at differently, that is hard especially when you are young want to fit in.
Support is so important to anyone facing a obstacle in their life, but for addicts in recovery some struggle to find support because of the stigma associated with addiction."When someone has cancer no one blames them for being sick, but they do blame addicts. A sickness is a sickness," one woman explained. There is a great deal of judgment passed on addicts, even within the recovery community. To be honest I was a little surprised to hear about the conflict between addicts. Some people who drank did not want to be grouped with those that did drugs, those that used prescription drugs claimed to be different from those that used street drugs, why does it even matter? Someone stated that " We all do what we can to feel better about a situation," even if that means passing judgment on other addicts sometimes.
We also took on the topic of sobriety and what the term really means. Most of the people I talked with felt that once an addict always an addict was a fair statement. Addiction is something that people work on every day and that does not mean they cannot live a life of sobriety it just always will be something they struggle with. One person did disagree she felt that a person could recover completely " how come we can expect people to be rehabilitated in so many areas but not addicts. Why not addicts too?" She felt that it was this thinking that addicts are always addicts that lead so many people to use or drink again because everyone is telling them that they will mess up.
In the end we all felt that one of the best ways to help people with recovery was providing them with resources. We all thought that as a society we need to be willing to celebrate sobriety rather than hide it. This thinking was one of the main reasons that Tioga County Open Door Mission began its Cool to Recover program. As an organization we wanted to provide more support and resources for those in recovery. If you or someone you know is looking for recovery information please look at our Cool to Recovery page for more details.