Substance abuse is a disease of the mind, body, and spirit. It can insidiously destroy a person's life and simultaneously convince that person that they are reaping their just reward. Addiction is capable of destroying a life, a family, a generation or a society. It is a relentless enemy and it cannot be destroyed, but it can be arrested. In our darkest days as addicts or the ones who love them, hope must reside in the lives of the millions of men and women who have achieved a lifestyle of sober living.
Supporting an Addict in Recovery
Loving a struggling addict can be frustrating and trying. Watching someone you love spiraling downward in a pattern of repeated self destruction is raw agony. Addiction is a lifelong disease. Addicts who are sober, still consider themselves in recovery simply because it is a life-long battle to stay clean. To those struggling with addiction, a sober life can seem overwhelming or even depressingly impossible. At its core, substance abuse often starts as a coping strategy for the addict. Trying to love and stay supportive of someone struggling with addiction is heartbreaking, because from the outside you can see the destruction and pain the addiction is causing. However, from the addict's point of view, they only see escapism from reality and fleeting moments of pleasure.
Learning to Live Sober
If a person is to achieve a lifetime of sober living, it is essential that they develop new coping strategies. They cannot just stop using. Any logical, rational, non-addicted person, when confronted with the destruction caused by their disease would stop the behavior immediately. You cannot reason or love a person out of addiction. It is essential to anyone that wants to support an addict that they understand this. Addiction is not about will, or love, or character. Sober living can be about will, and love, and character but there is a bridge, a leap of faith between the two. The precipice between addiction and sober living is a treacherous pass, few make it through on the first attempt, more make it after a dozen tries, and others never seem to grasp the sweet prize of a sober life. Every honest attempt is a noble and worthy endeavor. Every day in sober living is a cherished gift.
Every day in sober living is a cherished gift.
We are fortunate in the time that we live. Many men and women have lived a majority of their lives on the other side of the abyss. Many families have joyfully reunited and become stronger and more loving because of the perils of addiction. Sober living has gained dignity and even admiration because of the brothers and sisters who have set examples before us. Other ways of coping and surviving have been forged by pioneers before us who have offered to share their new found ways of survival. We don't have to guess that there is a better way of life without drugs and alcohol; we can witness it in the shared wisdom of the sober living community.
The process of learning sober living techniques must, by definition, fundamentally change a person in order for it to take place. If a relationship is to survive that fundamental shift, then the other person in the relationship has to understand and learn to cope with that change. The best support you can offer an addict is to seek out people who have successfully learned to support and relate to a person who has dedicated his mind and body to sober living. The best support you can get for yourself as your loved one succeeds or fails in his attempt at sober living is to surround yourself with people who understand where you have been, and where you may be going.
The inspiration for sober living is not only the destination but also the journey. There is pain and joy in letting go of the old ways and learning the new. No one's path is the same, and no one's journey is more right or wrong. Even in our most desperate hours there are lessons being learned and trials being triumphed. There is value in every experience, and each pain can bring us closer to the understanding that the pain does not have to be never ending.