The saying goes “…an addict alone is in bad company…” This tends to be more true over holidays when guilt, remorse, broken family and other relationships come to mind and one can tend to morbidly reflect on these and feeling cut off from others. Objectively these days are just like any other day that ends with a “Y” but expectations and hype about family togetherness and joy may not be where one finds themselves in early recovery. As such negative thinking snow balls-no pun intended-it can seem overwhelming and when overwhelmed, the brain of those in early recovery can lead one spell relief D-R-I-N-K I OR D-O-P-E. The disease is one of separation and the lies it tells lead the afflicted to retreat into their own minds and isolate making their feelings of separation a reality. None of the above is conducive to recovery or feeling comfortable and happy in one’s own skin.
The fact of the matter is that no matter what it looks like, feels like or smells like an person who makes it through any given day without a drink or a drug progress is being made. The reality is the drug is the problem, not the solution, but the lying disease that centers in ones brain with tell the afflicted that the problem is the solution. If one listens to those with longer term recovery, It can be discerned that they it was necessary to go through anyone or a multiple of days in which they ‘knew they could not do it…knew it would not work and that they and ‘it’ were useless…” However, for the sake of not using their drug of choice they were able to come out the other side. There is safety in numbers and if one feels like a black sheep, there is a need to find the rest of t he herd.
Fortunately support groups, churches and communities sponsor a variety of activities over the holidays to overcome feelings of being alone, hopelessness and uselessness. There is in fact “safety in numbers” when it comes to the disease of addiction if we could do it on our own, we probably would have a long time ago. Some of the activities available in the Greater Houston Area where that one can participate with others and not be alone include: 24 hour marathon meetings, gratitude dinners-usually pot luck, dances, and folk have been known to band together and go from one treatment center or half way house to another singing Christmas Carols.
One can access calendars of events put on by support groups at: www.aahouston.org For AA; www.hascona.com and www.ttcana.net for NA; www.overcomersoutreach.org for over comers anonymous; www.al-anon.alateen.org for Al Anon; www.celebraterecovery.com a faith based support group. It has been said that “when all else fails, work with another addict/alcoholic…” since the disease is intent on pushing one into a dark place in the back of their mind, it is advisable to get off the sofa and put the focus elsewhere. It has also been said that ‘the poor you will have with you always…” and there are a myriad of opportunities in the fourth largest city in this country to be of service to those who are less fortunate and cut off from family, friends and opportunities but marginalized by society. On 12/24/2014 at the George R Brown Convention Center their will be a ‘Christmas Feast’ for the homeless that always needs volunteers. Information on this can be found at www.volunteerhouston.org. The first two plus years of my own recovery I volunteered at SEARCH in downtown Houston, in part, because I had been homeless myself on more than one occasion. I also did this because such things were recommended by the support group I was in and I had finally reached a point of being teachable and needed to both be connected to where I came from, but also was in position to share with others that, should they choose, they too no longer had to live as they had been. This is the single most important message of recovery in any support group: That people can and do recover, lose the desire and obsession to drink and drug and build a life they want for themselves instead of one handed to them by the disease. It is not a amazing when someone who has told you they are an addict or alcoholic every time you see them relapses. They told you who they were every time you saw them. The miracle is that anyone stops and stay stops, can amend their life and situation, find out what they really want and pursue it. Regardless of how one feels about holidays in a religious or spiritual sense, why let the negativity and separation of the disease derail you from life, sanity and having a life that you want to live in recovery? Objectively it makes no sense but to avoid becoming a statistic one needs to find their respective herd, get off the sofa or out of bed and on their feet to participate in and be the miracle you are intended to be and overcome the lies of a disease that is out defeat you. It does not happen by itself, but every day without a drink or drug is, again, progress and one can take simple actions like those noted above to persevere during the holidays and all other days ending with a “Y.”
R Dole, LCSW