I originally wrote this, and spoke it out as a three minute reflection for BBC Radio Oxford’s Sophie Law show which went out on Sunday. I had several people ask for the link and for the recording so I thought it might be useful to also put written version out there for those that don’t want to go through the faff of accessing the recording
The Recovery Journey: addiction, treatment, recovery & discovery
We all have the capacity to become addicted and some addictions are less destructive and more socially acceptable than others.
Addiction to drugs or alcohol, when looked at more closely, is usually an answer to some underlying need or a response to legitimate issues in a person’s life.
Once started, an addiction or problematic relationship with drugs or alcohol can tick along for years, it’s usually only when it starts to affect other parts of our lives, relationships or work negatively that we start to think we might need to do something about it, or more accurately, others see what’s happening and suggest we need to do something.
Treatment in the UK is usually professional, often medically focussed and aimed at reducing the harms caused by the substance misuse and on managing the addiction.
Managing the addiction involves medicating the person and replacing one drug with another. For instance, we got opium from the opium poppy, became quite friendly with that and then replaced opium with morphine, to get off morphine we developed heroin and to get people off heroin we now use methadone
Using one drug to replace another, or trying to manage addiction, is like trying to borrow your way out of debt. It has limited effectiveness and may even make matters worse.
Recovery from addiction is possible, so lets be ambitious & work to help people achieve it.
The key to developing a life in Recovery is not just relying on medical help, but getting help to develop something called recovery capital, which includes things like: Getting healthy again, building confidence, repairing broken relationships and building positive ones. Taking responsibility for ourselves and our actions, getting a job and stable housing.
In short, having a home a job and a positive social network, allied to some purpose and meaning is the best possible way of getting into and sustaining a life in recovery.
Discovery is about being true to yourself and to your own experience, owning your past but not letting it limit your future. It’s about choosing to be visible and in doing so, maybe even inspiring others to pluck up the courage to seek help.
It’s about being positive and offering an alternative to the usual narrative about once-an-addict-always-an-addict, because recovery is not only possible, it’s probable. I and many others have done it, and you can to.
We’re all on a journey and all of us will pass through deep-water at some stage and need help. Let’s see those that have been through addiction and come out the other side as community assets, with something valuable to contribute, you or a loved one may be glad of it one day.