Connected and Affected
Some people say the opposite of addiction is sobriety, others say that the opposite of addiction is connection. There is a lot of truth in both statements. If you combine them, you have a really good chance of a long-term recovery.
Sobriety doesn’t have to be the last word in addiction recovery.
Many harm-reduction studies show that, in certain cases, the harm-reduction approach might work as well. Still, I don’t know if I can ever drink any alcohol in my entire life again socially, because I am an alcoholic in recovery. I reached a point in my life in which I decided I don’t need to know that answer, since I won’t give drinking a try ever again. I feel better safe than sorry, and during my years without alcohol, I haven’t missed anything, so why even try?
I’m also an addict to other substances and here it’s a little bit trickier. If I have, for example, a surgery coming my way that I can’t avoid, I may not be able to do it without opioids or other addictive substances. A simple dentist procedure can be done with over-the-counter, non-addictive, pain medication, but some larger operations may require me to take something that I was hoping never to use again.
In the end, I know that I am the one responsible for my body– not my doctor, not the hospital, not the anesthetist. I ultimately have to decide what I take and what I don’t allow into my system. It’s always worth a talk with the anesthesiologist to see if non-addictive substitutes might do the trick.
If I can’t avoid taking drugs, I make sure that someone is monitoring my intake, either in the hospital or later at home. I’m also prepared for some cravings to come up and it is a good idea to have other sober friends available for support, whether it is sponsor, some friends from the program, your therapy group, or your therapist himself. Here we come to the importance of connectivity.
The true winning tactic is to remain connected with like-minded people in recovery. Humans crave social contacts and to be part of something bigger than ourselves. We also all need to know that we are not alone in our trials, turbulence, transformation, and trembles. There are others that go every day through the same set of emotions—a fact that can be incredible encouraging. Other, healthy people help influence me in a very positive way.
The best and easiest way to find this connectivity is in any 12-Step group, because these groups are widespread and readily available at no cost. There are a number of other recovery programs that can offer a similar experience, if you feel better with those. The fact is that you don’t have to be a fan of the program itself to enjoy nice company and find needed connections in recovery.
Our recovery buddies become often as close, if not closer than our blood related family. It’s like you can go to any church and feel home with the community without totally believing in the religion itself. Don’t stress it. Just go to any group and see if you want to integrate yourself. And if not, you didn’t lose anything.
A good way to get connected is also to volunteer at some social facilities. Ask some sober friends if they would be interested in spending some time as a group for a project or a ministry. I would also like to invite you to come out to one of our Heroes in Recovery 6K runs/walks. It’s a beautiful way to do something for yourself and meet others in recovery from addiction, alcoholism or mental health disorders.
Click HERE to find a 6K near you and join the fun. If you don’t feel like walking or running, come out anyway. Volunteers to help set up the race, hand out medals, and give out water are always needed, as well as people to cheer the runners and enjoy the live band.
Stay connected and make the best out of your recovery. Sober friendships often last a lifetime, and more than once, a sober friend may help you out of a bad situation or carry you through your emotions if life becomes difficult. Don’t say, “I don’t need this.” You may not need it today, but the day when you need your connections might not be far. It will be good to be prepared and embedded in a group of people that care about you. Connection is about fun. Recovery can be a lot of fun. Combine it all and build your network.
We do recover.