The Benefits of Addiction Recovery

There's more to recovery than freedom from addiction.

Posted Feb 18, 2021

Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash
Source: Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash

People often take a myopic view when they begin seeking help for addiction. The consensus is that people in recovery want freedom from their drug or compulsion, whether that be drugs, alcohol, food, sex, or gambling, to name a few. 

But what those in long-term recovery will tell you is the freedom from addiction is just a starting point. If anything, it might only be scratching the surface.

True freedom is one where your soul is restored. This comes as one learns they can finally drop the charade and stop presenting a false self to the world and to themselves. They can finally connect to a deep, authentic part of who they are and not be paralyzed by prior fears of abandonment, rejection, or judgment.

There’s a freedom found in being true to yourself. This truth is knowledge of self. No longer bound by past personal, familial, cultural, or societal norms of success, approval, or external validation, a person in a deeper phase of recovery walks with a newfound sense of pride, purpose, and conviction. They know their lives matter. They know their story will help others. They know there are people with similar issues longing for forgiveness, restoration, and hope of a better tomorrow.

In addition, people in solid recovery don’t succumb to shame spirals. They can clearly acknowledge their addiction but also separate themselves from it. This separation is integral to growth. While they can identify themselves as having an addiction, their identity isn’t tied to their addiction. This may sound paradoxical but it’s a clear marker of having gone through the internal change and come out more than free from addiction.  Part of this change also includes freedom from anger, resentment, and bitterness.  As those melt, they are replaced with compassion, empathy, curiosity, and a desire for life-long learning, introspection, and a willingness to accept feedback from others.

From a personal perspective, my own recovery is closing in on close to 20 years. During the early years, it was simply to “stop” doing certain behaviors. But in the mid to later stages of recovery, I’ve learned to accept myself unconditionally, to embrace both the wisdom of knowing more but also the humility of not knowing, and come to terms with the grief of my past while buoyed with the present understanding that I am living a life worth living.