Over the years I’ve found that there is much to learn from the addict, especially those in active recovery. Having dealt with two sons fallen victim to substance abuse, one succumbed to the disease and the other nearing four years recovery, as a parent you search almost daily for explanation and some degree of understanding. To be sure as a society we still search for answers and all possible aid to reduce the suffering caused by this disease. The battle continues daily and at the same time victims mount up.
I myself have found from success and failure that recovery has a better chance where the real lessons come from those in active recovery and have experienced and know full well the hard work involved. They also know support is vital to the journey. If we as parents and those caring step back and realize as my recovering son says “if you’ve never been an addict, you’ll never fully understand” So what are we do? Are we to stand by and watch in pain? To me, my answer was to look in all direction for success stories and how they related to the paths of these two young victims. Information resides throughout social media on successful measures used by many in active recovery.
I decided to become deeply involved. I looked for stories, meetings, books and programs that would help. Before long I found answers to success and failure. I also learned quickly to be non-judgmental. I don’t believe any us who have never been involved with active addiction can do more than suggest. I listened carefully to both active and recovering addicts.
I’ve visited a good number of detox, rehab and sober living facilities over the years and found those actually operated by well-educated active recovery personnel seemed to have a higher success rate in dealing with addiction. Most of these facilities operate on a “been there, done that” program. They know the journey, the steps needed. They know that the entire body needs healing, emotionally, physically, spiritually and mentally.
You soon see the path is not a short time fix. My deceased son visited rehabs regularly. I say visited as they were short stints and he had no interest in truly reaching out. The programs were a weak attempt to detox, attend lectures, and explain dangers. The son in recovery spent thirty days in detox facility and eighteen months in rehab and sober living. He learned from counselors, therapists, residents in sober living and his own search for understanding the immense challenge in front of him. He established life-lines with his sponsor, recovering friends and the loved and support from his waiting family and friends at home. The burden of recovery fell on his shoulders and he knew it and was determined to make it through the first time (which he did).
At the same time, we need to heal ourselves. This journey is no easier than those suffering from substance abuse. As parents, family and friends we attempt to carry on our daily jobs without constant thoughts of those actually addicted. Again, a difficult task. As we reach out, just as the addict, we can find hope from those who are or have traveled the same path. It comes back to lessons learned for us as well as the addict.
In the case of substance abuse actual firsthand experience, with multiple years of recovery, seems the best guide, especially to those in early recovery. The same holds true for us. There are real life stories, meetings and people who know full well what you’re going through. At the same time, they do not judge but want to help you in any way possible. They will suggest rather than direct you as they know there is no single answer. When bumps in the road comes up that acts as a trigger to you or your addict, a list of contacts is available who are more than ready to give aid. Everyone concerned needs support to combat this battle. I would venture to say that when we become directly involved with substance abuse, we become “clients” ourselves seeking help.