What is your definition of recovery?

When I first decided to attend a 12-step meeting I didn’t really have any desire to change. I had a lot of really bad habits that caused me a lot of trouble, but I was completely unaware that my drinking was the cause. I still believed that all the consequences to my behaviour was somehow somebody else’s fault. The only real desire I had was to get everyone off my back and for people to give me a break. “I’m just having fun” is what I would always say.

As I was attending to try and prove a point to people, I was starting to see that alcohol really was a problem for me. But the thought of quitting drinking forever still seemed a bit too extreme. Maybe I can just learn to calm it down a little bit. That wasn’t on offer in the meetings I was attending. All or nothing. Back out on the lash or total abstinence.

I decided to give the teetotal method a go, how hard can it be? Well let me tell you, it’s a lot harder than I thought it would be. I worked with a mentor who showed me how to work through the 12-step program. And eventually the obsession to drink left me. 

I initially though that the definition of recovery was simply to not drink alcohol or use illegal drugs. This would seem like a logical thought process. Drugs and alcohol were destroying my life so if I’m not using them anymore then I’m ok, right? 



I’ve been sober for over 10 years now and in that time I’ve had many ups and downs. I’ve still caused problems and suffered consequences to my actions without picking up a drink or a drug.

Addiction isn’t so much about the substance we are using at the end of it. Its more to do with the behaviour we are portraying and why we are behaving that way.

There seems to be a big emphasis within the 12-step recovery model on not drinking, and for how long. Like somehow the number of days determines how good you are at recovery. This is an illusion fed to a newcomer to make them believe that the people who have been there longer are somehow better. I’ve come across people in the rooms of 12 step recovery meetings who are around 15 years without a drink. From the outside looking in, this would seem to be amazing but this person in question was behaving full of ego. Using his sober time to place himself on a pedestal above the people with less sober time as him and then manipulating those people to do things to create situations that benefitted him. The newcomer hears how long this person has been sober and based on the big number they put blind faith into this person believing they have his best interests in mind. 

I had to step away from this form of recovery as I was seeing good people being damaged to the point of a relapse due to people hiding behind the number of years, they hadn’t had a drink. They hadn’t recovered and they were not acting sober.

It’s not that I don’t believe in this method of recovery. The mechanics of the process is perfect. What it does to free your mind of the damage you caused is amazing. I just don’t have much faith in some of the people who attend without behaving like they are a changed person. Almost like they are now just addicted to the levels of trauma that walk through the door and the ability to use this to give themselves some sort of God complex.

This is just as bad behaviour as someone who is drinking. Probably worse, its classic predatory behaviour.

So a definition of recovery is not simply to put the drink down and not get drunk anymore. Complete recovery is much deeper than this. You have to challenge your behaviour and question your motives on a daily basis to make sure you are not doing things that will cause hurt and pain to anyone else. It’s a daily battle in the mind of the addict between good and evil.  The bad habits of an addict go way beyond the use of drink and drugs. They can manifest in everything we think and do. 

But if you know this, you can be aware of it, and keep fighting the good fight.