Recovery from Addict-Addiction by Denise Krochta

step 12 magazine addiction

What does recovery look like to someone who loves an addict? Many who love addicts don’t believe they have anything to recover from. To me, this is a dangerous and misplaced concept. Many of us who love addicts become addicted to our addicts—an addiction, I believe, to be worse than most.

So what do we need to recover from? Our lives become totally unmanageable as we focus all our thoughts on curing our addict. We think about making them “do the right thing” or making them see things like we do. Many of us are so focused on our addict that our other loved ones, who have been able to make good choices, become neglected by us. Our marriages fall apart, we lose our friends and support systems, we sometimes even lose our homes, and often our own sense of being.

I often tell people that my recovery from addict addiction came a long time before my addict found recovery from drugs. These two events should be exclusive from each other. Sometimes those we love never find recovery. It is important for our families that we don’t wait for someone else to find recovery before we do.

What does addict-recovery look like? We still love our addicts no matter what stage they are in (active addiction, early recovery, long term recovery). The difference is that we can breathe, live, love, and have calm and peace no matter what others are doing. How do we do this? Very carefully and systematically. Recovery is hard work whether it be for an addict or one who loves one. It reminds me of an experience I had in my own early recovery.

To celebrate my son’s first year of sobriety, I attended a Native American sweat ceremony at his request. I have been a very claustrophobic person all my life. This sweat ceremony was in a small canvas tent with lots of people, hot rocks and steam, and very little fresh air. How was I to get through this? Lots of patience, focus, tools, meditation, and breathing–tiny baby steps with one foot in front of the other. I was determined to make it through the ceremony. That is how I look at recovery; daily work, focus, meditation, breathing, and patience no matter how long it takes. Hard work yields great rewards.

One of the most important lessons I have learned in my recovery is that looking back and dwelling on the past is extremely counter-productive. Yes, learn the lessons, but don’t blame or use the past as an excuse for current behviors. For those of us who love addicts, giving up resentments and blame is very freeing. For addicts themselves, I imagine it would be the same. We cannot move forward if we rely on the past for comfort or blame.

Recovery is today. We have today to appreciate and enjoy. Embrace peace and breathe.

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