I once met a patient who came to treatment for an evaluation. He participated in progressive honesty throughout the course of the week that he was in treatment. When the treatment team sat down with him at the end of the week and supported him in being honest about how unmanageable his addiction has really been, he began to cry. We sat silently and heard his true story – that he has been concerned about his drinking since college; that he has been hiding bottles from his wife for the past several years; that he had begun drinking in a safety sensitive profession; that he has been too afraid to ask for help; and that he has had shame so powerful that it’s constantly hard to breathe. He gave the analogy that sharing the truth about his addiction to our treatment team was like intruders coming into his home in the middle of the night and looking for his family; having the belief that, no matter what, you do not tell them where your family is! He felt very protective of his addiction and had a belief that the people trying to help were the intruders. The fear of honesty can be paralyzing! When we begin the journey of recovery, we have the opportunity to participate in rigorous honesty, allowing us to begin experiencing connection for the first time in a long while.
What a joy it is to be connected in recovery! The gift of recovery is to not feel as though there is a need to hide from the world – out of fear, shame or being “found out.” While this may appear to be a simple concept for others, people who are working a program of recovery find joy and solace in this simple pleasure. Connection is a powerful word worth reflection. Where have we come to connect to an accurate understanding of addiction and what that means for us and our loved ones? Where have we begun connecting with our own Higher Power? How have we allowed for a more accurate understanding and appreciation for ourselves? Where have we allowed ourselves to reconnect with others? The steps bring us through a journey of connection with ourselves, our Higher Power, and others.
A cornerstone of addiction is isolation and lack of connection. We can find a million ways to disconnect – a preoccupation with money, work, sex, relationships, gambling, exercise, etc. Anything to distract and avoid. Letting down these walls and barriers is what treatment and recovery is all about. Barriers can look different for female vs. male patients, professionals vs. students, teens vs. older adults. Caron continues to develop specialized programs, including the Older Adult Program and the Executive Program at Caron, to individualize treatment experiences for each population.
When we forge ahead into recovery we have an opportunity to live life in a more fulfilling way. We can put faith into action and work a spiritual program of recovery. It takes courage to start that journey. It took courage for this gentleman to get honest and allow us into his “home.” Courage is not doing things without fear but doing things in spite of it. It takes courage to take inventory, admit defects and humbly as for the removal of them. It takes courage to list who we have harmed and make amends. Yet, when we walk through that fear and do the next right thing despite it, we realize that we can ask people for help and let them in, and they accept us truly for who we are. What a gift of recovery!