September 15: No matter who and no matter how bad, recovery is possible

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Tiny White Box newYou (or at least a few of youse) have recognized your drinking or using is maybe, just maybe, starting to get a little out of hand. Sometimes. But not too bad, especially compared with your friends, who really have problems.

You (as above) know you’ve got a problem. You’re using every day, maybe drinking to black out every night. Maybe dope has stopped being a once-in-an-ever-increasing-while thing and has become a habit—which is what you suspect you’ve got. You feel like you might be powerless over the substance, but you’re pretty sure you can quit on your own.

You (ditto) are living in the twilight land of addiction. The choice isn’t whether to get high or drunk, it’s whether to get what you need or get as sick as a human can be, feeling like you’re going to die but knowing that prayer just won’t get answered.

You (or at least many of you) don’t have any kind of problem. You’re just reading this out of an interest in addiction and recovery or because this writer has amused you a few times before or because you’re required to read a local news story for school and this one sounded less boring than the others.

No matter who you are or where you are in your using (even if that’s nowhere at all), I have good news. 

Recovery is possible. For every single person on the planet. As long as you’re above ground, taking in oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide, you can recover.

When you do, let me list five things that are likely to happen. These things are nearly certain:

1)You will feel better physically. This won’t happen at first, most likely, because your body has gotten used to regular intake of whatever magical substance you’ve given it. Whether we want to call it detoxification or withdrawal, it sucks. If you’re giving up alcohol or benzodiazepines, it’s medically dangerous and you should absolutely quit with medical support.

You’ll discover fewer bruises, fewer cuts, fewer aches and less pain. When you’re messed up, walking into stuff just seems to happen. Likewise, your digestive system will start to work normally again. Users don’t usually focus on food, except greasy, salty stuff eaten out of desperate hunger. Of course, those of us who have had a taste for opiates or opioids know how hard it is to get any of that garbage food out of us.  

2) You’ll feel emotionally healthier. As above, time takes time, but you will almost surely regain much of your emotional equilibrium. (Keith trivia:  I’d never noticed “equilibrium” ends with the name of a classic benzo.) Life won’t necessarily become easier, but it’s likely to feel that way. Chemically-induced anxiety, depression and other symptoms are often significantly reduced.

3) You’ll probably become more honest. There is a saying in recovery circles that if you sober up a horse thief, all you’ll have is a sober horse thief. This is true, a program of recovery or spirituality is likely required for real moral change. Still, when you’re drinking or drugging it’s easy for lying and stealing to become a way of life. Now that you’re not, those things may not be a necessity.

4) You’ll have more money in your pocket. Duh.

5) You’ll have more friends and better friendships, particularly if your recovery includes coming to Hope Recovery and/or a recovery group.  Hope is a very cool place with unique, amusing and generally sensitive people. Recovery groups of any kind draw people who want to support you in your journey—and need you to support theirs. As you know, it’s tough to maintain emotionally naked relationships when you’re using.

If you don’t believe me, or need proof recovery is available to all, please come by Hope Recovery (293 Wilson Street). I’d love to introduce you to a dozen or two dozen people who’d burned every bridge, played what felt like their last card and for whom life offered no friendly direction. They’re now in recovery and life is better. Not perfect, but better.

The “they” mentioned above includes me and every other Hope staff person. 

And it can include you too.

You matter. I matter. We matter.


About this Author

Keith Howard

Keith Howard is former Executive Director of Hope for NH Recovery and author of Tiny White Box