§ Part of the Recovery Is NOT For Quitters series §
Recovering from addiction is never easy. I tend to think that anyone who says it is has either never truly been addicted or has made the mistake of thinking that replacing the object of their addiction with something “more socially acceptable” is recovery. I’ll be using alcohol as the example, but this topic applies to any and all forms of addiction.
Let’s step back for just a moment. What is recovery? Simply, it is the process of regaining something that was lost.
I’ve seen it time and time again. A person speaks of having been alcohol free for six months, a year, five years, ten years or even more. However when you look at them, their actions, reactions and behavior, you see someone who still looks broken and defeated, angry and apprehensive, joyless and miserable. Why is this?
This is directly related to another article called OK You’re Clean, But Are You Sober? in this series.
Some people call this kind of person a “dry drunk,” essentially it is someone who is no longer drinking, but appears to be just as miserable, if not more miserable than when they were drinking.
Remember my disclaimer, I’m not a doctor of any kind, nor am I any kind of certified counselor. I can only speak from my own experience and thought and here’s what I see…
Some people are still really pissed off that they can not drink without destroying the lives of those around them and their own. Remember that realizing that there is a problem is not the same thing as correcting it.
Some people have lived under the influence of their addiction for so long that they have no idea how to behave or deal with the thoughts and feelings that arise when not drinking.
People in these and similar situations are still in hell. Perhaps an even deeper hell because there is no apparent relief. They aren’t “safe” from the thoughts and emotions they do not know how to deal with because there isn’t anything to block or hide them. This, in turn, creates more anger, confusion, and can lead to serious depression or even suicidal thoughts.
So what can be done about it?
As with addiction, the first thing to do is recognize the problem and take ownership of it. Sometimes people can not see beyond their own misery.
Are there things that you haven’t let go of? If so, why? Analyze yourself. Is your refusal to let go of these things hindering or helping you? Give an honest answer to yourself.
As mean as it may sound, if you are in this kind of situation, try to avoid people like yourself. I know, misery loves company. That may be true but you cannot justify your own choice to remain miserable by the fact that others are choosing to. Not if you want to have any chance at happiness anyway.
Get some counseling! Yes, I know there is a lot of quackery and quick fix ideas out there. Few of those work. It takes some time to get over yourself. I know. Sometimes you just can’t do it by yourself.
For me one of the most important things that worked is acceptance. Accepting the fact that life is a long string of events that in and of themselves are neither good or bad, only events. Events only become good or bad by perspective. How I interpret these events is up to me. How you interpret them is up to you.
Only as a last resort would I even hint at medications. Real happiness doesn’t come in the form of a pill or injection. I know that some folks really do need medication, I just happen to think that “meds” is an answer that is given far too quickly. Especially by those whose first real interest is not your physical and emotional health.
The simple truth is only you can change yourself. If you’re tired of being miserable, start looking for the reasons you are holding on to it. Start by changing small things in your life and bigger changes, usually for the better, will follow.
Don’t get comfortable in a hell of your own creation…