Patch the Hole or Replace the Bucket
As you explore the source of the addiction, even if it is as a result of a brain disorder as The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) recently stated, it offers the opportunity to become aware of the implications and the choices to invoke change. The hole in the bucket may have been initiated the first time you picked up or engaged in behaviors that became habitual. Process addictions, such as shopping, over-eating, gambling, excessively working, or hoarding are as insidious as substances and can be equally destructive. With each drink, each pill popped, each roll of the dice, each secret foray to the refrigerator, the metal wore thin.
What Would Bucket Repair Look Like for You?
Ask yourself what recovery would look like for you. Most treatment programs direct clients toward total abstinence. Others look at harm reduction. Gabor Mate, MD has spoken definitively about the topic: “Giving somebody clean needles does not stop their addiction, but ... it means there isn’t HIV being transmitted from one person to the other.”
- Move from the darkness of addiction into the light of recovery by making a list of people you know personally or in the larger world who have crossed that line. If they are in your immediate circle, ask them what it took for them to sustain sobriety.
- Know that recovery is a process and not a one and done event. In 12 step parlance, ‘one day at a time’ may need to be one moment or even one breath at a time.
- Create alternate activities that feed the need and fill the proverbial hole in the soul that may be at the core of the addiction. Time in nature, music, reading, movies, sports, fitness activities, creative endeavors, building, gardening, yoga, dancing, volunteering can be rewarding.
- Know that you can’t heal what you don’t feel. Allow yourself to experience the emotions that you may have been repressing, perhaps for years. Laugh, cry, rant and rave, as safely as possible, without doing harm to yourself or another in the process. We were born with tear ducts for a reason.
A Couple Who Put Recovery First
When Gina and Jack met with the minister who married them, they told their story. Their initial encounter was at an AA meeting 10 years earlier. They became friends and were cautious about entering into a romantic relationship, as recommended by the program. They knew it would be a distraction and a potential hazard to their sobriety. For several years, their interactions were platonic, but eventually they took the leap into love. As they created their wedding ceremony, their vows included the idea that if in any way, the relationship jeopardized their recovery, they would sooner end the marriage than relapse. They were wise enough to know that without sobriety, their union would itself be in danger. During the ceremony, knowing nods and tears were among their guests, many of whom were in the program as well.
It takes courage to maintain intention to stay sober and even more to follow through. By putting recovery first, you are telling yourself and the world that you matter.
Reach Out Recovery Exclusive By Edie Weinstein