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Abstinence does not equal recovery

Abstinence does not equal Recovery
ok well i was compelled to write this because i have noticed a growing number in those who say they are in recovery, when they are simply abstaining..
abstinence is not using drugs, it offers us no resolution to our addiction or our problems at hand. abstinence in my opinion has an expiry date, for if we don't deal with why we use, we will use again...
recovery is a searching intense process which takes us to places we have never dreamed of exploring. we discover things about ourselves in recovery which we did not even know existed, this can be a somewhat scary process but one which will benefit us immensely.. recovery is a process which takes us deep inside ourselves to the core of our addiction, why we picked up that first drug, why we felt the need to escape this world, why we didn't want to be ourselves and be apart of our families..
this is recovery. recovery is a process which requires action, fearless and searching action, the ups and the downs of recovery are intense, and they are higher and lower then the highs and lows of those not in recovery, because once you've been so low, the high of life is so much higher.
i (as some of you may have noticed) am very dedicated and passionate towards my recovery, and i don't like the word being used loosely. recovery to me is something that takes a lot of strength, courage, willingness, honesty and most of all it takes the help of other addicts. my recovery would not have been what it is if i had not been able to look someone in the eyes and tell them i felt like @#%$, and then have that person embrace me and tell me everything will be ok. .that is recovery..
recovery requires action, abstinence does not equal recovery. 
Sfj Re: Abstinence does not equal Recovery
All right, check this out.
Recovery means a return to a former condition. Doesn’t it?
Abstinence just means to not use and I think that’s what people are seeking.
But some people are more in need of “Discovery” than “Recovery.”
In other words, they have never been to the place they need to be in or the place they need to go to.

Re: Abstinence does not equal Recovery
Wow, thanks guys.
All I've been doing is not using.
I have many issues that don't just magically go away.
Re: Abstinence does not equal Recovery
In other words, they have never been to the place they need to be in or the place they need to go to.

Oh how very very true.
Recovery is nice- discovery even better.
Goodnight Shane- I loves ya more. Good post- very good.

SfJ, good reply - very good.
and yes I love you too .

RIP Re: Abstinence does not equal Recovery
Good topic,

Most of a persons everyday life is determined not by...conscious intentions and deliberate choices but by mental processes that are put into motion by features of the environment and that operate outside of conscious awareness (Bargh and Chartrand 1999).

My only problem with this topic is, who is to judge who is in recovery and who is not.
I for one have learned to love and be kind to all who are at least making any sort of attempt to stop using mind altering chemicals.

There are so many variables that affect peoples recovery that one may not know what an individual is going through.
Some of these variables are:
1. Age
2. employment
3. Motivation
4. Consequences or sanctions brought on by substance use.
5. Physical/Social environment
6. Legal status or peer criminal activity
7. Social support
8. history of drug use
9. Past treatment history
10. Concurrent psychiatric problems
11. Anger
12. History of past victimization in interpersonal relationships
13.Chronic Illness.

Overall recovery is a dynamic PROCESS in which people proceed through a series of specific stages before they can make meaningful change.

There are many variables that can affect someone's recovery. So if someone is not on the same page as you when it comes to acting like they are in recovery,
Be patient and supportive for as human beings we are all different and our recovery rates differ immensely.

"All glory comes from daring to begin"
Eugene F. Ware
Re: Abstinence does not equal Recovery
rip i couldn't really get my head around your reply, it seemed like it was just a bit statistical and not so much your feelings but there was something you said that i really needed to read


So if someone is not on the same page as you when it comes to acting like they are in recovery,

i need to be more understanding of peoples recovery/abstinence i guess...
for me recovery is such a hardcore process i guess i sort of feel like the term being used loosely lessons the awareness of how hard recovery is....

mkf Re: Abstinence does not equal Recovery
As much as I love my brother - and he has not used meth for over 2 years - he has traded his addiction to meth for alcoholism. Abstinence does not equal recovery.
Re: Abstinence does not equal Recovery
I know for me, as soon as I start distancing myself from NA and the people in those rooms, and the service work I'm involved in, it doesn't take long for me to spiral down to using again.

Sometimes I can get by for a while with white-knuckling it, doing the very bare minimum, and BS-ing my way thru with my sponsor. But the spiritual pain grows faster than I want to believe, until I have SOME kind of pipe in my hand.

I don't know if it was my friend's death, or just realizing that I can say "F*&K NO" to multiple offers to get high within a week...but I feel stronger...and what a coincidence, I was also starting to get back into NA as heavily as I was before. I started doing my step work again. I went to more meetings. I participated at the Area and Regional level again.

And today, I'm "okay". I'm not sure how my mindset will be tomorrow, but I know I'll have a better chance of enjoying my day if I actively participate in my RECOVERY. Hell, I'm actually EXCITED about some upcoming events in NA around here.

So...I can DEFINITELY see a difference between recovery and abstinence. For me, abstinence is doing nothing (including dope) and recovery is taking action.
Sfj Re: Abstinence does not equal Recovery
Sooner or later it seems we should ask this question with this thread:

Can recovery take place without total abstinence?

In San Francisco, FWIW, it is law that all recovery and treatment facilities subscribe to the "Harm Reduction" model of treatment. While Total abstinence is one of the final goals, it may not be applicable in all cases immediately upon entering a program of recovery.

We can also entertain the notion that recovery is a journey and not a destination. 
mkf Re: Abstinence does not equal Recovery
recovery is a journey ... that makes sense to me. I have to say though, being an alcoholic isn't any happier a life than a meth addict, wouldn't you agree? I watched my father kill himself with alcohol. He also used drugs all his life. I don't believe my brother has addressed the issues that caused his addiction in the first place and I would never judge him - please don't get me wrong.

I am glad he's not using meth any longer, however I can see he's not happy and I think he would be if he were working a program or taking steps other than changing from one chemical to another, that perhaps he believes is less damaging. I don't believe alcohol is less damaging than meth. I don't know. Harm reduction? I've seen you mention that several times over the years - remind me, is that simply what it implies? Just using less until you are able to completely quit?

If that's the case - is it done with a program as well? And, if it's worked with a program, wouldn't that be working toward recovery and not just abstaining? Maybe I'm not making any sense. just seems that recovery vs abstinence are different than harm reduction unless I'm not understanding what it means.
Sfj Re: Abstinence does not equal Recovery
Dealing with alcohol is just a little bit different. Not much, but a little bit. The hard core purists would say that if one were to drink a sip of wine at communion in church, he has not given up alcohol completely. I am not going to argue over something that trivial.

Another common argument is the one against the use of methadone for the treatment of opiate addiction. I'll avoid that argument also.

But the one argument I will enter is the that Harm Reduction can be very effective in helping meth addicts. It worked for me. I slipped, or relapsed, or what ever you care to label it, for a few months in early recovery. (treatment) That doesn't mean I was a total failure or that the treatment was worthless. It meant that they were gracious enough to realize the difficulties we go through and be willing to adapt.

So, I'll go on record as saying,
"It is possible to be on the road to recovery before becoming totally abstinent."

(That oughta wrinkle a few eyebrows - grin)
mkf Re: Abstinence does not equal Recovery
I would have to agree with you on all three counts sfj - good post.
Re: Abstinence does not equal Recovery
Can recovery take place without total abstinence

this to me seems to be a pointless question. for if we are still using, we are still feeding the core of our addiction, how can one one begin the journey of recovery whilst feeding the core of ones addiction...
in my opinion total abstinence is the start of the recovery process, recovery can not exist until total abstinence is achieved...

Re: Abstinence does not equal Recovery
So if someone abstains for the rest of their life, did they recover from their addiction?
Sfj Re: Abstinence does not equal Recovery
Just for the sake of argument let me create a hypothetical situation:
Suppose I were using a gram per week and I decided I wanted to quit and I made that decision on January First.
On the week of the Jan. 7, I cut back to half a gram per week.
On the week of Jan. 14th, I cut back to a quarter gram a week.
On the week of Jan. 21st, I cut back to an eighth gram per week.
On the week of Jan. 28th, I only used a sixteenth of a gram all week.
In February, I used no more meth.

When did my program of recovery begin?
Was recovery the same as abstinence or is recovery a mental state of being?
Re: Abstinence does not equal Recovery
In my opinion abstinence may not be the same as recovery but they are very close. As SFJ pointed out, one doesn't need to abstain to begin their recovery.

At the same time, just because someone is abstaining from use doesn't mean that they are resolving the underlying problems that lead them to use in the first place. Does that mean that they aren't recovering from their addiction? No i don't think it does. Just because you aren't working on the problems that lead you to use doesn't mean that you aren't working on recovering from your addiction.

I don't know if any of this is making sense or if I am just contradicting myself. I think my whole point is. If you abstain, and someone says that you aren't actually recovering. And you don't go back to using. Were you recovering or not? I would have to think you were.

So in conclusion. Who's to judge if anyone is in recovery except the person that is putting forth their own effort to beat their addiction?
Re: Abstinence does not equal Recovery
ok...that in my opinion would be a conscious effort to do something about your drug use...the definition of "recovery" for me, and this is just my thoughts on it. recovery is the process of searching to discover the reasons behind your using, finding those reasons and coming to peace with them. relieving us of what turned us to drugs to begin with..
the hypothetical situation you describe, in some ways could be described as a journey in recovery, however in my opinion it is not...it is a realization and an effort made to control your using...for me my journey in recovery started 2 weeks into total abstinence when i started taking action and searching for what i needed to fill the emptiness inside that i filled with drugs..
"can one begin recovery without first achieving abstinance, some may say yes, in my opinion, and in my recovery, no"
Sfj Re: Abstinence does not equal Recovery
We are sometimes taught that looking at the problem too much prevents us from finding the solution.

It is easy to look at, describe, investigate, define, and examine, and analyze a problem without ever focusing on the solution.

Is that recovery?
Re: Abstinence does not equal Recovery
is that not recovery?


describe, investigate, define, and examine, and analyze

these are things i need to do in my recovery to maintain clarity on what i am doing in my recovery...if i do not do these things, and i am not consciously thinking and considering all aspects of my recovery, how can i keep track on where i am heading and where i have been...recovery is a process and if i am not describing investigating defining examining and analyzing my recovery i am in idle, a place in recovery i would rather not explore.

See also:

What is the difference between abstinence and recovery?

Recovery and Treatment of Crystal Meth / Methamphetamine Topics

Back to Crystal Meth & Methamphetamine Questions, Answers & Advice


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