I’m on the road, visiting addiction treatment centers and talking to professionals from every job description in the addiction field. What strikes me more than anything else is the diversity, the options one has to get and stay sober. Everything from white knuckled, twice a day AA, self policing; to 90 days or more in the lap of luxury at a country estate; and everything in-between.
With all these options, sobriety should be a snap, right?
That is not to say sobriety is a snap. In fact, the “many paths to recovery” have become a complicated superhighway. And when you decide to quit your drug of choice, its like going on a cross country car trip. Should I take the scenic route, with a stop at Mt Rushmore? Or the fastest route where everyone in the car is begging for a bathroom break to stretch their legs? Biofeedback, EFT tapping, co-occurring integration, Christian track, EMDR, gender specific treatment, art and equine therapy, 12 step methodology, exposure therapy – a lot of smart people are doing everything they can to help you kick the habit.
But what happens when you get where you are going? What happens with all those clear-headed days stretching out, year after year? How do you fill the time that used to be filled with drinking, drugging and their ramifications? One of our stops on the road trip, was at Dawn Farm (where you see Sanford House founder Rae Green and me communing with a llama above). Part of the program at Dawn Farm involves two-plus hours of chores per day. One of the work groups is assigned to taking care of the domestic and exotic animals housed on the farm (sign me up). This is not punishment for wrongdoing. Nor is peeling potatoes in the kitchen, for that matter.
Getting sober is tough, but part of the process should always be establishing routine, and rebuilding enthusiasm and accountability. The trifecta of “adulting” one sets by the wayside during active addiction. Quite simply, the best methods of helping you get sober, also help you stay that way. No matter how adroit the program, if they turn you loose without a clue about what rings your chimes long-term, you will fail in recovery. It’s like getting out of the car after driving from New York to California with no plan and no money. The Pacific Ocean is pretty, but now what?
Finding and Keeping Passion…
I work for a treatment center where the philosophy is all about incorporating meaningful, extra-curricular activities together with evidence based treatment. But it is also my personal philosophy. I gravitate toward water and I am passionate about hiking. Without the long treks I have taken at Guana Reserve, or along Lake Michigan, without my passion for nature and the out of doors, I am not sure I would have made it this far in my recovery.
I haven’t had a drink in almost four years (that’s one in llama years). I don’t really even think about drinking anymore. But I get blue. Occasionally, I still feel the need to fill the hole. I research everything I can find about addiction and its treatment, I have established schedules and routines for myself. I have surrendered to a higher power and renounced my prideful-ness…
But, I know that lacing up my hiking boots and heading out to someplace challenging will always make me feel better and clear my head. Or when I am particularly muddled, I write in this blog… Find your passion. Find the things you can’t live without. All the “ings” will help – surfing, journaling, hiking, praying, driving on a road trip… Mucking out llama stalls?
Today I’m not drinking because I have a couple of things that ring my chimes…
How come you’re not drinking?