“Recovery” is commonly defined as “the process of returning to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.” It derives from French “recovrer” meaning “to get back.”
In alcohol and drug treatment settings, recovery typically refers to giving up alcohol and drugs completely – in addition to dealing with any emotional and mental health issues surrounding the substance use. This is a gradual and lifelong process that requires patience and persistence. Each person’s experience of recovery will be different and shaped by their particular circumstances.
Nobody comes dancing with joy into recovery. Most people will start recovery because they are without hope, desperate, and sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.
A great many are also terrified. They have finally run out of ideas of what on earth they can do to turn things around.
It takes an immense amount of courage to admit you need help. Then, even more courage to actually seek it.
But ask anyone who has done this and given their all to recovery – putting it top of their priority list – and they will tell you it’s the best thing they ever did. That is for themselves, but also for everybody around them as well.
They can once again – or, in some cases, for the first time – become the person they were always meant to be. This can include being a loving parent, partner, sibling, son/daughter, friend, and/or colleague.
It is worth noting, too, that while mental health problems and addiction will continue to get progressively worse, recovery usually gets progressively better. Life opens up more and more – and a feeling of peace grows inside.
Recovery is a coming home
Recovery means getting back what we once had, before alcohol and/or drugs took over our lives. This can include the self-esteem, self-love and self-confidence that we had before certain things such as trauma caused them to become damaged in some way and to varying degrees.
For some people, it’s so long ago that they had their full self-esteem, self-love and self-confidence intact that getting them back can feel like it’s the first time they’ve ever had them. It is an unbeatable feeling.
While it might feel like it’s the first time, there is also a wonderful heart-warming familiarity about it. Rediscovering yourself is like coming home after a very long trip away – or returning to where you should have always lived for what seems like the first time.
Darkness before the dawn
Many people in recovery can, in time, become grateful for the struggles they’ve had to face. Without such struggles, they would not have made the self-discovery that feels so magnificent now.
A great number of people who do not have mental health or addiction problems will live an okay or even good life, yet may never know there is so much more to life and to themselves.
Our struggles in life can often be a gift. They cause us to look where we would not have otherwise looked. They make us realize that we cannot go on with things as they are. We find something deep inside ourselves and we do things we would not have done without being in so much pain and distress.
As Hero’s Journey concept creator Joseph Campbell said: “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”
Over 700 years ago, Dante wrote in his narrative poem Divine Comedy: “The path to paradise begins in hell.”
There are many recovery phrases that mirror these sentiments, including: “Rock bottom is the way to the top,” and “Breaking down can be a waking up.”
Having our backs against the wall means we are willing to walk along the road less traveled. We dig deeper than anyone would otherwise.
It’s when we dig deep like this that we find perhaps what every human needs to find, the treasure inside us all. We gain so much that it means we can live to our full potential and as our greatest ideal.
In digging down to repair the damaged roots, we once again find our true source and our true self. This is someone who’s a lot stronger and far more capable than we previously could ever have imagined.
What qualities will I gain from recovery?
As well as helping someone to overcome addiction or other mental health diagnosis, such as anxiety or depression, recovery gives so much more. These “extras” are needed to maintain and sustain a new, healthier way of being.
For instance, one aspect for someone drinking addictively is that they’ve been using the alcohol to try to push down, mask or numb feelings, such as anger or anxiety. It is clear that they need to better understand the root cause of these feelings and learn healthier strategies for managing them so they can live life on life’s terms.
Being in recovery also provides a greater sense of understanding and self-awareness. This is a great part of what therapy is all about, as well as the 12 Steps recovery program.
There is so much to be gained from recovery. Here are my top thirty, but if you know anyone in recovery just ask them as there are many more.
- Freedom from addiction
- Tools for living life on life’s terms
- Spiritual awakening and growth
- Improved quality of life
- More energy and vitality
- An awareness of triggers
- Much better sleep
- Fewer mood swings, more peace of mind
- Greater self-awareness and understanding
- Growing self-esteem, self-love, and self-confidence
- A developing feeling of serenity
- An ability to live in the now
- Healthy boundaries
- An increased desire for life
- Happiness and joy
- A sense of having more time
- Freedom from the demanding ego
- Gratitude and focus on positive things
- An understanding of the human condition, increased empathy
- Healthy relationships and true connection
- A sense of purpose
- A chance to help others with similar struggles
- Physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing
- Enablement of your full potential
- Your true self back
Recovery is everything
The above list is certainly part of my experience since my recovery started in January 2002.
I began like many teenagers. It was all part of going out and partying, which was encouraged by culture, peers, and some adults as well.
But the last few years of my “going out and partying” were not much fun. Over the 15 years since I started, I was doing more and more of it.
I hit what I call my “rock-bottom year” in 2001. I was sleeping on friends’ sofas until they asked me to move on, had become unemployable, and was in an unhealthy on-off relationship.
By then, I’d definitely stopped trying to give up anything that I knew was unhealthy for me and that mostly no longer “worked” for me in any way. I felt without hope and nearly gave up on everything.
Now I know that recovery is everything.
For example, without recovery I strongly doubt I would ever have been able to enjoy a healthy relationship.
A few years into my recovery I got married and now have two wonderful children. I’m there for them, as I am for my partner, friends, colleagues, and anyone who asks me for help or guidance. Basically, today, I can stand up and I show up.
Recovery is life-transforming. All too often, it is lifesaving as well.
Recovery at Tikvah Lake
At Tikvah Lake Recovery, our experienced team of experts has helped a great many people to enter back into society with the coping skills, knowledge and belief that they can live their lives clean and sober from drugs and alcohol.
Tikvah Lake’s ethos is to treat the whole person, not just the addiction, and our bespoke treatment plans reflect this.
We understand that recovery is a life-long process, which is why we also offer all our clients comprehensive aftercare and long-term support to help them stay on track.
Call us today to speak about how we can help you or someone you know on the road to lasting recovery.
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