Addiction is an equal opportunity destroyer

Sep 20, 2020 | General

I am happy to share this article from Susan, writing for Recovery Research Institute and carrying on a conversation we shared together at the Yoga of Recovery symposium in Bahamas in 2019. I very much relate to many of the points Susan makes:

Susan and John Kelly, Recovery Research Institute at Yoga of Recovery symposium in Bahamas 2019

“Over the past fifty years, groups like “Young People in Recovery” and collegiate recovery programs have literally smashed the illusion that you have to wait to be a “bum on the Bowery” before asking for help.

Instead of asking “Have I hit bottom?” perhaps the better to question is, “is the use interfering with achieving my full potential?”

Given that addiction is often a progressive condition, those who are “functioning” may well eventually experience a decline in their quality of life. It can often be a very slow and painful process, where remorse and regret replace joy and delight.

While addiction is a chronic condition, it is also unique in many respects. It is not only treatable, but remission can start immediately. The minute someone decides to put down the drink or the drug can mark an immediate turning point in his or her life. While relapse may occur, many are able to maintain continuous sobriety after that date. Unlike other diseases or disorders, your turning point can be whenever you say it is.

The other unique feature of recovery from substance use disorders is that it can often be resolved through a variety of different pathways and for some people, without resorting to the use of formal treatment. A recent national study found that over half of those in recovery had used no formal services whatsoever.

Not only that, but unlike other diseases, where the goal is to get back to “well,” with recovery people actually transcend and get “better than well.” Studies conducted in the US and UK confirm this concept of ‘better than well’ offers a model of hope and change to populations and suggests that the goal of recovery is not a narrowly constrained model of symptom reduction, but a quality of life process of ongoing growth.