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Brief thoughts-Who/What defines recovery?

On social media we recently made a post about how each person’s recovery journey is unique. This got me thinking more about how we define recovery and what it means.

Often we are judgmental about someone else’s recovery status. It they don’t fit a certain mold we think of as being “in recovery” we criticize and chastise. We may even force our own views of how we think someone should approach recovery and treatment. This is common in the rooms (self help meetings), its common amongst patients in psychiatric hospitals and programs, it’s common among professionals, and it is common among lay people.

Many times recovery is thought of as someone is abstinent from substances or has an absence of acute mental illness symptoms but is this truly accurate? Doesn’t ones path of recovery really start well before that even if often we don’t credit it that way? Isn’t someone who is actively trying, even if not perfect, still engaging in a recovery process?

For many, a recovery journey may begin with an action as simple as being sober curious or picking up an anxiety self help book. Someone may start by just exploring recovery groups on social media and completing self screening questions. It may begin with just reducing substance use with the intent of improvement in life. It may involve harm reduction strategies. Someone’s journey may include medications or medication assisted treatment. It may include multiple periods of relapse with substances, psychiatric symptoms due to medication non-adherence or dropping out of programs. It could include multiple self help groups or going it on their own. Who are we to discount their status?

We must keep an open mind and realize OUR way may not be THE way. As long as someone is trying any path of change we support them. As they begin to struggle, support them more. If they lose all sight of positive change and appear to give up, we educate and support even more. All stages of recovery are still recovery.

Please take care of yourselves and each other.

Chris Dorian, Founder of Know Your Why Recovery

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