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Recovery and…The Danger of Gimmicks in Recovery

I’ve noticed a trend in the recovery community of what I’ll call the “recovery and…” idea. I see people promoting recovery and fitness, recovery and essential oils, recovery and holistic healing, recovery and underwater basket weaving, etc. (OK, I made that last one up, but maybe it’ll be next on the list of trends. It sounds fun.)

Don’t get me wrong. I am encouraged when someone finds something that helps them be a better version of themselves. Anything that aids in your journey I celebrate. I am just wary of anything suggesting I need something else to recover fully.

It seems trendy to add a gimmick to your chosen recovery path. I fully understand that many people find healing in various things. Those things can be a part of their success, but I think there is a fine line in letting something supplement your recovery and suggesting it’s tied to that as a solution. Isn’t that search for a “fix” what got a lot of us into this mess in the first place? I know it was for me. I still desire to find something that helps numb and ease the discomfort of being in my own skin, something to fix what I felt was wrong with me. My recovery could best be summarized as learning how to sit with pain and be who I am, just as I am, without numbing or attempting to take the edge off of that discomfort.

I still desire to find something that helps numb and ease the discomfort of being in my own skin, something to fix what I felt was wrong with me.

I find a lot of things are helpful to my recovery—yoga, essential oils, meditation, art journaling, my Sober Mommies support groups and lots of other tools. But I am really wary of anything that suggests that I need those things, or anything, for my recovery. The only thing I need for my recovery is just, well….me.

That’s it.

Me showing up.

You showing up.

Recovery is about showing up for yourself and making changes to build a better life–one you don’t have to numb. There are many paths——all equally valid: 12 step programs, the aid of a Higher Power, moderation, medication-assisted therapy, yoga, prayer—whatever works for you.

Our words matter. A lot. It is dangerous to those of us in this community—who are an already vulnerable audience—to suggest that success in recovery is tied to a “fix.” It feels like the message here is if we just try harder or use this product or follow that program, then we are more likely to be successful. As much as I would love to be able to suggest something that would give a guarantee for an easier ride on this journey, it’s just not true.

There is no gimmick or oil or book or program that can “fix” us. Showing up every day, doing the work of learning to respect, love, forgive and feel all the feelings without using, that’s the fix. My favorite mantra is “the only way out is through.” I’ve found that to be the way—through the pain, through the feelings, through it all.

Slather yourself in lavender oil. Run a marathon. Eat only bananas or stand on your head. I think it’s awesome if you find something that helps you but suggesting that everyone else’s recovery needs those things is dangerous though. Recovery is a vulnerable place. The idea of a quick and easy solution is tempting. It still remains that the only way out is through. Good or bad, we have to walk through it. When we accept and honor all of the paths, we build bridges for each other.

(But if you want to try underwater basket weaving just for fun, I’ll sign us up for a class.)

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