Why Communication Is So Important in Recovery
One of the key factors in recovery is having the ability to communicate.
Posted Apr 01, 2021 | Reviewed by Chloe Williams
When I was in school, we did a science experiment in which we took a soft drink in a bottle and strapped it to a paint shaker. At first, we started slowly and not much happened. We then proceeded to increase the speed of the paint shaker. The more we shook the soft drink, the more the carbonation inside of the bottle continued to increase and eventually the pressure was so intense inside of the bottle that it exploded and it had to release the pressure.
This is the case for those in active addiction who are trying to bottle up their feelings and not allowing any of the pressure to be released. This is because, as someone with substance use disorder, there is a lot of shame and disappointment that is associated with the addiction. If an individual has relapsed after a period of recovery, they may not want others to know that they have slipped back into the darkness of addiction and the person may be fearful of the judgement that is often associated with falling back into addiction.
This is where communication is vital in the realm of recovery. The person has to be willing to talk to others about the feelings they are having when they are experiencing urges and cravings for their drug of choice. The communication can start out slowly, which can start to release pressure. This, in turn, helps decrease the intensity of urges and cravings and helps avoid the desire to use.
One of the things that I have recommended to those whom I teach in recovery is that they must have a solid support system. One way to do this is, when they go to a meeting, to gather up as many phone numbers in order to develop a contact list of individuals they can call when the urges hit. This way, when they have the urge, they start calling down the list of individuals. The more they call, the better the chance of the urge not blowing up into relapse.
I have often found this to be my saving grace when I am going through an intense situation in the realm of my own life. When I had a bad day, such as losing a job or having a frustrating day with the kids, and my bubble was about to burst to the point where I wanted to drink, I would have to check myself and hit the reset button. When I found myself in this situation, I would stop and slow down, take a deep breath, and then find someone in my support system that I could talk to. I have a list of individuals whom I feel that I can call at any time, day or night, if I am struggling.
The past 30 years of being in recovery have taught me just how often I needed to be active in my communication skills. There were so many times I easily could have given into my desire of wanting to drink. These are the times where I utilized my list and kept myself from faltering. It does not matter how long you have been in recovery, whether it has been just a few days or even a few decades such as I have, addiction is just lying in wait — waiting to pounce on you and your recovery.
Communication could not have been more vital for me and my recovery than the day I lost my youngest daughter, Kayla, to suicide in 2018. At the time of her death, I had over 26 years of sobriety under my belt. All I knew was that I wanted to get so drunk so I could not feel the pain anymore. I wanted to go to the local store, grab a couple of bottles of hard whiskey and slam them down at the same time. I did not care how long I was sober at the time. All I cared about was numbing the pain that I was feeling. I was angry and hurt, mostly at myself for not protecting my daughter in a better sense of the word.
I knew what my addiction to alcohol could do and just how strong the desire to want to use was. I had to utilize all the skills that I had taught in the groups and classes that I led. I had to rely on my support system to keep me from going back to the path of darkness, of wanting to drink. I told my wife to not leave me alone so that I did not give into my addiction, even though I badly wanted to.
Communication is so vital in recovery — for me, it is a matter of life and death, and had I not been willing to allow myself to let go of the pressure, then I easily could have gone right back down that dark and dangerous path. I would encourage any and all who read this and are struggling with the demons of addiction to find someone to talk to and allow the pressure of life to be released so that you do not explode, just like that bottle did when I was in school.
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