Language That Empowers

In today’s treatment programs, how often do we talk with addicts about what they want to gain in their lives, rather than what they must give up? Most group sessions focus on “abstinence” and the necessary “avoidance” of people, places, and things. Of course, these conversations are extremely important but talking about what sobriety can ADD to a person’s life is just as important, if not more so. This concept, which may appear obvious, is sadly overlooked.

Maia Szalavitz sheds light on this in her book, “Unbroken Brain.” Using her own first-hand experience with drug addiction, Szalavitz challenges the current treatment policies and asks humanity to look at addiction through a different lens. It was while reading her book that I began to see the deep-rooted flaws in our system.

If our goal is to help people recover from addiction, why do use negative language such as “you must give up your relationship with…” “you can’t go to that restaurant anymore…” “you must choose…” “you can’t do this, if you want that…”? Does this type of language motivate you to achieve a specific goal? For me, this language screams punishment, discipline and fear.

Now, what if we sat in a group session and changed the language; “what would you like to add to your life?” “What have you always dreamed of doing but never got the chance to?” “Recovery opens the door to a whole world of possibilities, passions, and dreams. Let’s all imagine our ideal lives.” This language screams positivity, motivation and happiness! It cries love and laughter and relationships! It shouts why recovery ADDS to our lives and not deprives us!

What language empowers others to make their dreams a reality? Use that language.

By Sarah Fichtner, Counselor at Relevance Recovery

Becoming A People Person

By nature, human being are social creatures.  Simply put, we need other people.  If we are addicted to drugs, there is a very good chance that we surround ourselves with negative people.  These are people who will negatively influence us.  This can pose a significant problem when we make the decision to stop using and enter a life in recovery.  No matter how we got there, whatever path we chose to get clean, creating a positive network of supportive people whose are pretty much aligned with our own can be a daunting task and create a bit of loneliness, especially early on.  There is an abundance of research that surrounding ourselves with positive people dramatically increases our chances at maintaining abstinence and living a life in recovery.  The social aspects of developing this network are not always easy for us to develop, especially if we are not a “people person” and would much rather isolate and handle things on our own.  The following are a few simple steps we can follow to develop this network.

1—engage in some type of fellowship program whereby there are people who have and are going through a very similar experience as you.  These can be SMART recovery meetings, Refuge recovery meetings or even a traditional 12-step meeting.  Attendance is beneficial to meet new people.

2—asking for help is another critical step.  This is can be a difficult step that some of us may struggle with.  In the end, we can talk to people, whether at a meeting, or being with family members.  Reaching out for help is a critical step and also helps us create an increased level of self-esteem.

3—choosing new friends is vital. Asking questions in regards to the amount of clean time someone has, whether or not they are in treatment, their views on recovery and their level of social involvement in the recovery environment.

4—being patient is often a difficult thing to do, especially when you our accustomed to using drugs, not trusting people, and wanting to be instantly gratified.

In the end, camaraderie and fellowship will increase the level of success you may have will be increased significantly if you develop a circle of your peers to  lean on.  There is no room for hiding.  Social networking and support will be the key to lasting recovery.  People persons perpetuate promising plans to progress.