Since becoming a regular contributor to this site, I’ve been faced with the challenge of really having to adhere to principles over personalities. What I mean by this is that by posting my thoughts and opinions online, especially on places like Facebook and Twitter, I have opened myself up to a wider audience than just my fellow recovering alcoholics. Mostly this has been a great thing. I am passionate about more people becoming educated on what alcoholism really is and how great recovery can be. Not in an “everybody needs to get sober” way but in a “the options are better than you think” way. And yet clearly this message hasn’t been clear to everyone as there have been some people who don’t agree with the ideas I’ve presented here and seem to be taking what I write personally.
That is why Richard Taite’s article on Science 2.0 was exactly what I needed to read. Taite simply and eloquently explains why realizing you have a problem with alcohol and drugs can be the start of a beautiful journey towards self-realization and peace. Scientifically, this is called posttraumatic growth and is an opportunity given to people who have been through some shit: combat vets, firefighters, abuse survivors, victims of traffic accidents, mothers of chronically ill children and recovering addicts, among others. Of course, it’s not just people who have been to the physical and emotional depths of hell that are drawn to self-improvement and a better life but they are usually at the front of the line to get there. Pain is the greatest motivator. As the quote goes, “Religion is for those who don’t want to go to hell and spirituality is for those who have already been there.”
Still, I understand that this doesn’t work for everybody. Even Taite points out that trauma seems to split people into two groups: “those who experience posttraumatic stress and those who experience posttraumatic growth (though there’s also evidence people can hold both within them at the same time).” Which is probably why I have experienced some pushback for being a 12-step advocate. Just like Cross-Fit, Chantix or kinesthetic learning, the 12-step path to recovery isn’t a universal fix.
And then there’s the issue of stigma. It’s been 75 years since the recovery from alcoholism first got major press and yet there’s still a stigma attached to the disease, especially outside of major metropolises. Which is why it’s exciting to hear about efforts towards social acceptance—like those made by Oklahoma City mayoral candidate Dr. Ed Shadid, who has spoken publicly about his own struggles with addiction and path to recovery.
But in the last month or so, I have found myself in the midst of several debates on what alcoholism is and what being sober really means. This is not a place I want or need to be. My recovery has been a long and bumpy road but for me it’s been nothing short of a gift—one that I would love everybody to experience if they want. Whether someone gets sober or not—or how they do it—has absolutely zero effect on my belief that sobriety is the right path for me. And that’s all my writing really is: just one drunk talking to the world.
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