Saturday, December 18, 2004

Abstinence vs. Recovery

Here's a nice, succinct distinction between abstinence and sobriety I came across on the web. It's a pretty good, non-partisan site -- including some resources for those uncomfortable with Twelve Step support groups.

(Personal advice: be careful with the non-Twelve Step approaches. The ones I've seen seem to be based on a rejection of AA, in response to what, to me, are misinterpretations and/or caricatures of the AA I'm familiar with. In other words, they do not start with an original view of alcoholism or fresh approach to recovery -- they are embedded in the context of AA. They seem to define themselves as "not-AA." The parts of them that make sense to me are really just different terminology and different emphasis for the same stuff AA offers. Anyone who wants to recover has to go through pretty much the same process, whatever you want to call it, IMHO!)
"Abstinence from alcohol & drug use on the one hand and recovery from alcoholism & addiction on the other represent two very different states. Sometimes the boundaries between the two become blurred, but they're definitely there. Read on...

Some alcoholics and addicts become abstinent but do not enter recovery. Abstinent, but not recovering, alcoholics and addicts show the following attitudes and behaviors:
  • They maintain abstinence from alcohol and drugs because to drink and/or use again would most likely cause more problems.
  • They don't enjoy being sober and clean, miss getting high, and feel disappointed in or angry about being abstinent.
  • They maintain abstinence through will-power and believe that strong will-power is adequate for continued abstinence.
  • They would like to drink and/or use again and would do so if reasonably sure that prior problems would not recur.
Some alcoholics and addicts are not only abstinent but also in recovery. Recovering alcoholics and addicts show the following attitudes and behaviors:
  • They maintain abstinence from alcohol and drugs because to drink and/or use again would compromise the quality of life found in sobriety.
  • They enjoy being sober and clean and feel grateful for sobriety.
  • They utilize resources instead of or in addition to will-power to maintain sobriety and to learn healthier ways to think, feel, and act.
  • They have no desire to drink or use again and would not do so even if reasonably sure that problems would not recur.
The bottom line is this:
  • Make no bones about it; moving out of alcoholism & addiction, through abstinence, and into recovery does not happen by accident or by magic. It requires time, patience, and above all - action."

From AlcoholAndDrugAbuse.com


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