How to Share the Power of Recovery

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I now know that I went about telling my family I was in recovery from alcoholism in all the wrong ways.

No wonder they looked so baffled, confused and even a little angry.

How I wish I had known then about recovery messaging and the power of using the right words and ideas when it comes to speaking to my family, friends, employer and my community.

I thought everyone would be ecstatic that I was no longer drinking.

Turns out it wasn’t quite that simple. Had I made my story about all the good things that were happening as a result of entering recovery and stabilizing my life, instead of focusing on how I would no longer be a train wreck in others’ lives, people may have understood better.

The good news is it’s never too late to share the power of recovery

Does anybody besides the recovery community care about recovery, let alone how powerful it is? As a matter of fact, research by Faces & Voices of Recovery reports that yes, the public does care; in fact:

  • A majority (67%) believe that there is a stigma toward people in recovery
  • A majority (74%) say that attitudes & policies must change

People want to know about recovery! That second stat? That 74% want to see change in policies like access to treatment for people with addiction? I find that so damned exciting!

The thing to remember is there’s a right way and a not-so-helpful way for those of us in recovery to approach the telling our stories.

The not-so-helpful way is to focus on your addiction. In my case, it was me wrongly describing to anyone who would listen how I would no longer be an 80-mph train barreling through my loved ones’ lives. Or me constantly saying things like, “Oh you know, that’s what I did when I’d had 12 Bacardi and Cokes!”

The right way is to focus on the stability of recovery, on the great things that have happened in your life as a result of recovery.

So what does all this mean in the big scheme of things?

Let me back up for a second. When I talk about delivering a message, I’m talking about sharing your story with family, friends, neighbors, the person next to you on the train, your pew-mates at church, the person in line with you at the grocery store, and definitely, the media, if that’s something you’d like to do.

The message is shaped, of course, depending on your audience, but for the most part, it’s the same content.

Do people in recovery want others to know that people with addiction get well?

Again, referring to the Faces & Voices study, 88% of people in recovery believe it’s important for the public to see that thousands of people get well every year. That’s a pretty impressive number for a community that is supposedly anonymous, isn’t it?

Here’s something for you to wrap your mind around: You’re not telling your story for you.

Even when you’re having a one-on-one conversation with your next door neighbor, you’re representing the recovery movement. The chat you have may very well change the thinking and impact the actions of another person attached to your neighbor.

Our purpose is to create opportunities for others by sharing the news of how recovery kicks ass in our lives. @bheretoday (Click to tweet!)

I’ll leave you with this: Five years ago, with 18 years of recovery, I embarked on an odyssey that changed everything about my life except my recovery. All the bold and scary-as-hell steps I’ve taken since late 2009 brought me to an understanding that I must participate in the New Recovery Advocacy Movement.

You see, it’s because of recovery that I participate in recovery. And now my life is all about living the dream so that maybe, just maybe, someone else can too.

Photo courtesy of cohdra

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6 Comments

  1. Karen says:

    Beth, Thank you for sharing your gifts of recovery so others are aware that recovery is more than possible, it’s attainable. Your commitment demonstrates that life in recovery holds kick ass power…in all the best ways possible. Continued blessings to you.

  2. It really is all about the presentation, isn’t it, Beth? And you’re absolutely solid-right when you observe that sharing a personal recovery story is about perhaps motivating someone else to embark upon the same journey. This, as opposed to “Gee, look what I don’t do anymore (aren’t you proud of me?).” Or whatever else we manage to come up with. Updating the presentation shows enlightenment and growth. And speaking of “the presentation,” you’re writing and blog are really looking good. Thank you for your messages…

    Bill

    • Beth says:

      Hey Bill! You and I have been around long enough to know that while so-called drunkalogues allow folks to relate, they do little to attract the would-be new person in recovery who is looking for a hopeful, happy existence in sobriety.

      I am so over the whole “if it bleeds, it leads” approach to everything from media reports to recovery stories. Let’s create a global shift in consciousness–“when there’s hope, we can cope” or “focus on positivity for an outstanding recovery.”

      I know you’re on the bandwagon and it’s so good to be sitting beside you!

  3. Tom Rose says:

    Recovery is really powerful. For those who have faith, it is easily possible to achieve a sober life. Treatment centers like help addiction recovery services aim to assists addicts to overcome their addiction through their treatment programs that is suited to every individual. It is best that a person who is experiencing substance abuse to depend on recovery centers and trust these centers to cure their drug and alcohol addiction. I hope many people will change their negative insights about recovery centers through life’s testimony of addict people who are now totally recovered because of these treatment centers. Sharing of recovery experience to others will absolutely change someone’s life. Thank you for sharing this!

    • Beth says:

      Thank you for writing, Tom. Although I could argue about the “easily possible” part, I do agree that having faith makes recovery at least seem possible. I believe there are many, many paths to recovery and that folks should avail themselves of every opportunity to find the path is most agreeable and enriching for them.

      All the best to you and thanks for your comment!

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