Recovery Month: An Open Letter to Those Recovering

September 2018 marks the 29th year of National Recovery Month, recognizing the hard work of individuals in recovery from substance use disorders. You would think that in all these almost 30 years, somebody would have made a proper “Happy Recovery Month” card for this occasion to give people an idea of what to say to those in recovery from alcohol or drug abuse.

But there’s no card. There isn’t even a Wikipedia entry for Recovery Month. There is merely hope that some truths can be weighty enough to be universal.

The Three Words

You are loved. This is the first truth that you should know. Many people still love you. There are plenty of people in your life who would love to celebrate Recovery Month with you.

Although it may not seem that way, there are many who want to help you in your efforts to stay sober and are proud of you. Some who love could feel that they don’t believe they deserve this love, perhaps because of past mistakes. Find a way to learn to accept it because it’s true. You are loved. When a loved one or a friend offers to listen, talk to them. Start a conversation. It doesn’t have to be profound or serious. Tell them what you had for breakfast. Tell them your plans for Recovery Month.

But if you’re comfortable enough, you can also tell them your anxieties. Go ahead and tell them your fears and dreams. It will help them understand their place in your recovery. Or spell it out for them. That would be great. It would mean that you can visualize how your recovery will happen. Also, let them ask questions and answer them if you can. If you can’t, please don’t be rude or nonchalant. Just say that you’re not yet ready to talk about it.

Take everything that people say at face value. Don’t forget that it may also have been difficult for them to approach you, not knowing how you’d react.

The Second Truth

Here comes the second truth: yes, you are loved, but not by everyone.

You’ve been prepared by your rehab facility for this. To expect that not everyone will welcome you at their supper table.  There are some cases where the damages caused during addiction are unbearable, and it may take a long time to fully gain the trust and love back of some, but this is okay. All you can do is stay your course and live your life sober, one day at a time. You must accept that you did at face value and realize that not everyone will be so eager to celebrate with you during your Recovery Month party. The good news, however, is that time typically heals all wounds.

Do not get hung up on whether their actions are justifiable. Do not dwell on the vague memories of the lies you told them and the number of times that you let them down. Dig deep inside of you and move on. Some people can become completely uncaring of other people’s opinions when they are in the throes of addiction. It may take years to gain back trust, respect, and love from those you truly admire.

You are the most important person that you have to consider. When your steps falter and your knees fold, go back to the first truth and embrace it. It’s September and, therefore, National Recovery Month. This is your month!

No More Solo Act

Illicit drug use has been increasing in the United States. In 2018, the percentage of people aged 12 and older who had used illicit substances in the past month was 11.7.  And although the number of Americans who abuse alcohol has declined, data from 2013 still shows the figure fixed at 17.3 million or 6.6 percent of the population.

However, with all those suffering from substance abuse, your addiction journey will be done solo. Your friends during the times you were using would have pulled your teeth out as you slept if they could use them to buy one more bottle or one more hit. Happy Recovery Month! That journey has ended.

From the time you got help, you acquired backup dancers for your concert. You ceased to be a one-man band. This brave move will also be the catalyst to eventually allow people to give you a second chance in their lives. People in active addiction tend to isolate, which makes things worse, it is important in recovery to get rid of that mindset and be open to the help and guidance of others. When you realize that it is much easier to stay sober with the help of others, your recovery journey will become that much more possible.

Endless Laughter

But this journey will not be easy, especially at the start. It will involve lots of tear-filled moments.

Fortunately, you have many weapons. One of these is laughter which, as the cliché says, is the best medicine. What’s more, it’s free and always available.

All you have to do is to consciously seek out the person or group and the situations that make laugh. The ones that make you roll your head back, make your tummy ache, and fill you with exhilaration.

Laughter has a normalizing effect, too. If you laugh often enough, you’ll forget all your difficulties, even for tiny moments. Instead, you’ll remember how it was to be a regular guy. Let us hope that the yearning for this normalcy will make you work harder in recovery.

After all, laughter has a soothing effect. It’s the best medicine, remember?

No One Process Fits All

Your rehabilitation process was personalized for your own needs. In the same way, your journey to be able to celebrate Recovery Month will not be similar to another. Yes, there will be similarities, but mostly it will be different from person to person.

It is important for you to remember this so that you will not put undue pressure on yourself. This is a slippery slope that may cause you to feel depressed, anxious, and afraid. It will erase all your hard work as the insecurities creep up again.

Limitless Possibilities

In the close, the last item you can use as a recovering drug addict or alcoholic was the one thing that also led you to the two main truths. And that is hope. Hope will carry you through this journey of celebrating Recovery Month every September.

Don’t be afraid to believe in yourself and in the love of the people around you. In the fact that one day, you can even tell jokes about this journey to other ones that you will be helping too. Anything can happen.

Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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