Freedom & Addiction Recovery: The word freedom gets top billing in the USA during this time of year (July). We reflect on our freedom as a nation and as a people and we can experience a level of gratitude for our liberties. There was a point in my personal history when I lived in a free society but was enslaved by the chains of alcoholism. It was a prison with no walls, but with very limiting restraints none the less. That lifestyle started out with the freedom to decide whether I would drink or not, but I soon lost that privilege the further down the road I went. Of course the whole time I would say to myself, “I can quit whenever I want, I just don’t want to right now.”
Much like the ‘before and after’ pictures of someone when they lose weight, there is a before and after picture of my life in relationship to alcohol. The landscape of my life looks totally different today. I have been privileged to witness complete lifestyle changes in people who decided to recover from active alcoholism. One young lady went on to become a dentist, another fellow became a professional artist, one couple got into addiction recovery, stayed married, blended their families and are now the best grandparents that I know!
Listed below is a ‘before snapshot’ of what I have freedom from today (as it relates to drinking):
Here is a ‘snapshot’ of the freedoms I have today with addiction recovery:
Living a life of recovery has availed me these things. It has given me a true understanding of the concept of freedom through addiction recovery. It is hard to imagine why a person wouldn’t want these things when they are in the throes of active addiction to alcohol. Actually alcoholics do want these things, we just don’t want to give up the alcohol in order to have them.
What a lot of people don’t understand is that we really believe alcohol provides freedom for us. Immediately we feel free from worry, stress, heartache, emptiness, anger, and fears. But alcohol consumption can backfire and after it lures us in it can actually make all these things worse. It feels like freedom, but in reality what it does is provide us with escapism, numbing, and the removal of inhibitions. And it does it instantly. That is how it hooks us. It’s easy, fast and effective. The catch is that it doesn’t last. Tomorrow, next week or the next occasion you have to do it all over again.
It takes much more effort to work an addiction recovery program, but the results are long lasting if we continue to maintain our program. Something I hear frequently from individuals trying to get sober is “Recovery doesn’t work for me, I tried it.” When I inquire as to what effort that person put forth the reply is usually “Oh, I went to a few meetings, but I didn’t like it.” Well, I have met a lot of people who have diabetes who said the same thing when they had to start taking medicine! In the beginning, they didn’t care for idea of needing to do that in order to be well. A life in recovery is not easy, but it does get better. Then it gets good.
Recovery is about so much more than just not drinking. It’s about finding out why I need to mood alter so often and why I am so uncomfortable just living life. It’s about growing up and learning how to deal with life in a way that’s not harmful to me or others. Part of my program is an ongoing development of my spirituality and learning how that can help me remain free from alcohol. For me, addiction recovery is about celebrating life and allows me the freedom to become who I was intended to be.
Angie Carter, CRADC, SAP is a certified reciprocal alcohol and drug counselor and DOT certified Substance Abuse Professional. She is in private practice at Carter Counseling & Consulting Services. Angie sees local clients in office and is also available for telephone coaching and/or consultation. Click here to contact Angie with appointment requests, questions, or feedback.