The word “addiction” means something different to just about everyone. Yet most still say it in a whisper, the same way we used to lower our voices for “cancer” or “AIDS.” Many of us treat addiction as though it lurks in the shadow, but it is present in most people’s lives in one way or another. It’s not a dirty word or a sign of weakness. It is not something to be ashamed of but something to be understood.
I have been in recovery from addiction to drugs and alcohol for eleven years. While I have remained abstinent from drugs and alcohol the whole time, the so-called thinking part of the disease has not gone away—and I don’t expect it to. What I mean by that is that when we look at addiction from the disease model, there is no cure. It is a chronic illness; it cannot be cured, but it can be treated daily—much like diabetes.
I have found that true recovery requires that we address the psychological, physical, emotional, and spiritual conditions that arise with addiction.
When I imagine my body as a container for all these conditions, I know it takes work to look at them all, break them down, learn new behaviors, and continue to delve into the inner workings of my self. The process reminds me of the alchemical process.
I have found it important (and helpful) to look at work on the self during recovery; this type of work serves to keep me aligned with the ebb and flow of daily life. But more, than that, it helps me to never lose sight of the purpose and meaning of life.
Whatever you call it or however you look at it, the type of work on the self all ties into spirituality in one way or another. What I mean by that is these are the things that affect the human spirit – or soul – as opposed to material or physical things. I’m not at all implying that you have to all of the sudden, get religious. In fact, the only thing I’m suggesting you get religious about is your self care. And, I’d recommend this for everyone – addict or not.
Often times, the concept of deep self work and care are minimized in clinical setting for addiction treatment. This doesn’t mean that this method of treatment is wrong or bad, it just means that there are other components that you might want to add into your overall treatment plan.
Looking at, treating & supporting the whole person rather than just segmented parts are the foundation of a strong recovery and successfully managing addiction long term.