6 Things People in Recovery Wish You Understood
For those who suffer from addiction firsthand, the understanding is engrained into their minds. They just know that addiction is a disease that encroaches on every aspect of their being, interrupting everything that was ever good and encroaching on anything relevant in their lives. Those who recover from addiction still find the prevalence of all that’s horrible about addiction very much a part of their lives. But for those who have never faced addiction head on, it all seems so trivial and odd -- why would someone let this happen? Why don’t they just quit? What’s so hard about it all? Can’t they just say “no?”
If you’ve never lived addiction & subsequent recovery, you just don’t know -- do you?
Sadly, there are so many things that people who have never truly walked in the shoes of an addict will understand about recovery. These are the things that people in recovery really wish you could understand -- but if you’ve never experienced addiction, it’s understood that you basically won’t ever fully “get it.”
1. I Didn’t Choose to Become an Addict
Nobody, not anyone, chooses to become an addict. In fact, people that are addicted to drugs or alcohol and those who enter recovery all shared similar goals and dreams growing up as you did. They didn’t say, “I’m going to start drinking and hopefully I’ll have trouble quitting and need help” They never thought, “I’m going to smoke this and hopefully I’ll find myself homeless on the streets but I’ll keep smoking because that’s what I want out of life.” Certainly they don’t say, “I’m going to use and become addicted because that’s what matters in my life, that’s what I strive to be -- an addict.”
Addiction is not a choice. In fact, everyone that uses drugs or alcohol is at risk of becoming addicted and yet the majority of use don’t ever face addiction head on -- thankfully! Perfectly normal people become addicted. They don’t ever choose it. They don’t ever ask for it. They certainly never consciously state “Today I’m going to become an addict.” It just doesn’t happen that way.
2. I Started Using Drugs or Alcohol for Legitimate Reasons
Maybe it was because I was trying to mask an underlying mental health condition such as anxiety or depression that I needed treatment for. Perhaps it was because I was abused and didn't know how to cope with the abuse. Stress, anxiety and similar feelings or emotions are often underlying and a cause for addiction. People are unsure how to cope with their emotions so they begin drinking or using drugs to mask the feelings. The use of drugs or alcohol then spirals out of control and addiction sets in.
This is why rehab focuses first on getting to the root of the problem -- why is the individual using drugs or alcohol in the first place? Much of what you’ll learn when talking with others in Pocket Rehab is that drug or alcohol use began as an early coping mechanism for something like PTSD, depression, abuse, or stress. We’re real people, just like you, that just turned to the wrong methods to cope with our problems.
3. We Really Wish You Could Leave the Past in the Past
Please don’t allow our addiction to define us. We realize that the use of drugs or alcohol caused us to do some horrible things, but please don’t make us keep on reliving those awful moments. A decision to go to rehab or to otherwise get sober is so hard as it is -- we don’t want to admit that we need help. Making us relive the past mistakes that we made, and making us dwell on it all, doesn’t help us.
Instead of bringing up the past, can you please just encourage me in recovery? Can you please just be there for me, to support me?
4. I Am Not My Addiction - I’m Still Me
Addiction was powerful and still is very powerful in my life, but it’s not ME! My addiction should not define me and it certainly didn’t take me away. While I may have done awful things while I was addicted, I want you to know that throughout it all, even when I was at my worst and in the lowest low, there were pieces of me still present there -- and I’m still very much present and myself now.
I still love to do the things that I loved when I was young and that I loved before I started using drugs or alcohol. When I was struggling with addiction, I was still me -- I just was sick and needed your help. I couldn’t get through the addiction alone -- your support was vital to my recovery and still is.
5. I Never Meant to Hurt You
I know that I hurt you and I know that I was a total disappointment. I never meant to be that way and I hope that we can get past that. Drugs and alcohol may have made me unaware of the repercussions for my actions, but I promise I never planned to cause you any harm or undue pain. I am sorry!
Hurting you was not my intention. I really didn’t mean to disappoint you either. I started using to cover up how I was feeling. I didn’t know how to cope with the feelings that I was having. I wish I could have explained it better or that I could do a better job at apologizing now, but all I can do is try to stay sober and avoid hurting you in the future.
6. It was Never About You
Not to sound selfish, but my addiction was never about you. It was always about me and my problems. I didn’t start using drugs because of anything you did -- even though I may have blamed you at one time or another. I didn’t drink because of anything you said, even though it may have seemed that way at times. My addiction was exactly how it sounds -- MY ADDICTION.
Your loved one needs your support now more than ever as they navigate recovery. Do your best to support them and try to see their recovery as a journey that only they can control. Most importantly, know that these are the things that someone in recovery nay want to .tell you and for whatever reasons they cannot find the strength or the words. But, if you continue to support then in recovery, the journey will be a lot easier for everyone involved.
Tags: recovery, things I wish you knew, what you should know about recovery, recovery tips, recovery facts, recovery myths