You Asked, We Answered

Addiction Questions

I’ve been in and out of rehabs and 12 Step groups for years. I want to be sober, but in order to do that do I still need to be in recovery forever? Do I still need to go to meetings?

The answer lies in two things – the definition of “recovery”, and whether “recovery” looks appetizing to you. From the tone of your question, we think you are ready to move past both addiction AND recovery. Take a look – from Chapter 2 of The Freedom Model for Addictions:

“Recovery” demands that you strive ceaselessly to become a perfectly functioning, perfectly spiritual, and perfectly moral person, and even then, failure is considered inevitable. In an even subtler way, there is a movement that pushes the idea that you need a “purpose-filled” life to gain the resilience to not be tempted to backslide into use. Within recovery ideology, recovery doesn’t mean getting over a problem and moving on. Recovery means you will be fighting a lifelong battle that becomes even more challenging when you attach substance use to every challenge life tosses at you. In the specific case of “avoiding triggers,” the desire for substance use is taken as a permanent condition to be accommodated rather than changed. This is like people with diabetes avoiding all sugar because their bodies can’t handle it. That’s what recovery means, adjusting your life to accommodate your permanent handicap. The best evidence of this is the fact that the recovery proponents regularly compare addiction to a chronic disease, such as diabetes, and say the two are alike.

Again, recovery ideologists skip right over the part where you could analyze your options and come to believe that you’d be happier with less or no substance use. So not only are you constantly working, struggling, and fighting to stay sober because your heavy desire for substance use is fully intact, but you’re often doing so with the painful sense that you’re deprived of the only thing that would make you happy. In group counseling and support meetings, you’ll often hear people say things such as “Drinking was the only thing that ever made me feel comfortable in my own skin” or “I’m having so much trouble dealing with my brother’s death, and getting high would make all that pain go away”. These statements reinforce the idea that you will be deprived of something wonderful and magical if you quit. When people say they’re “feeling weak and need support right now”, they are confirming that they’re fighting an internal battle against the bogeyman of addiction. But it doesn’t have to be a battle.

You can feel comfortable in your own skin without alcohol and drugs. They don’t help anyone to deal with loss. In recovery society support groups, treatment, and counseling, you never question these beliefs about substances. You never consider that life without them could be markedly better and more enjoyable. You are simply told there is no rhyme or reason to your desire for substances and not to think about it. Instead, you are presented with the declaration that you must fight your urges to use these substances because you are an addict. If you’ve attended treatment programs, addiction counseling, or support group meetings, you were told that you had no choice and needed to fully invest in the recovery subculture because your handicap, the disease of addiction, makes that the only place where you can safely exist. You were told you needed to have a stress-free and purpose-driven lifestyle or you’d “relapse”. But what if none of it were true? What if you could separate your use from all these other areas of your life and just ask yourself whether you still prefer it?”

1 Comment

  1. Ana Nimus

    Not entirely true. Nowhere is it said that anyone has to achieve perfection, in fact it says we “claim spiritual progress, not spiritual perfection”. Yet another who wants to blast a spiritual approach to recover for whatever reason.

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*In cases of physical withdrawal, medical treatment and/or medical detoxification services may be necessary. Consult with a licensed physician..
The Freedom Model and the Freedom Model Retreats, divisions of Baldwin Research Institute, Inc., do not provide any services that require certification by New York State’s Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. The information in this book is designed to provide information and education on the subject of substance use and human behavior. This book is not meant to be used, nor should it be used, to diagnose or treat any associated condition. The publisher and authors are not responsible for any consequences from any treatment, action, application, or preparation, by any person or to any person reading or following the information in this book. The publisher has put forth its best efforts in preparing and arranging this. The information provided herein is provided “as is” and you read and use this information at your own risk. The publisher and authors disclaim any liabilities for any loss of profit or commercial or personal damages resulting from the use of the information contained in this book.


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