The quintessential recovery method from addiction, I think it is fair to say has not yet been discovered. Those who would disagree are generally those that have succeeded in achieving recovery using a specific method. If it worked for me, it should work for everyone, right? It is easy to begin judging others who don’t succeed using your method. Well, clearly they didn’t do everything they should have. Perhaps they didn’t. Or perhaps they needed something different.
I find myself relating recovery to the two other things I deal with regularly, my skin disease and trying to lose weight. With my skin disease, there is no cure, and there are no one-size-fits-all treatment methods. For some people, zinc, a light antibiotic ointment, and some diet changes manage the condition. For others this does nothing. Some require biologics such as Humira. Some require regular surgery to remove tracts running underneath their skin. The list of treatments and combinations of treatment go on. Each person with this condition is different in how they respond to various types of treatment. Why would the disease of addiction be any different?
When I compare it to my diet, I find myself leaning more towards, if people can acquire the belief that they can succeed, and they stick to the plan, they will succeed. I’ve been dealing with weight issues since I was a teen and that has been my experience. The diet plan has mattered little, just that I stick to the plan and that I believe that I can do it.
Perhaps recovery is a bit of both. No one-size-fits-all, but whichever method you do pick, you must believe you can recover, and you must stick to it.
One topic that has been on my mind lately is sponsorship. There are certain, hot topics, in 12 step programs that when you don’t align to them, you are in sight for a lot of judgment and shaming from peers. Shame is a tool used in many communities to alter behavior. It is what the government uses to try to curb drunk driving by using drunk tags on drunk drivers’ cars or forcing them to attend MAD (Mother’s Against Drunk Driver) sessions. I don’t want to explore the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of using Shame tonight. I have explored this in another of my blog posts though if you want to read more on that.
The subject concerning sponsorship is particularly relevant to me as I am currently without a sponsor. Going through life events and continuing my education has helped me to continue to question my beliefs. When you first enter recovery, you are indoctrinated, that to be successful you must always have a sponsor and go to meetings…etc. etc. There are many that believe that these are core requirements to getting and staying sober. Partly because it was an element in their own recovery but also and mainly because it is what is indoctrinated within the community.
Let’s look at this for a moment. Would you concede that there are people who get sober using a method other than AA or a 12-step program? That there are people who have gotten sober and have stayed sober without a sponsor? If you disagree, then you probably won’t get much out of the rest of this blog, lol. If you can agree to this, then I ask are these people just lucky? Or is it possible that having a sponsor is not a core requirement for everyone to get and stay sober? Just something to ponder.
Another question, would you agree that not every sponsor is created equal? And that not every sponsor/sponsee relationship is a good fit? My own experience has proven this to be true for me. But what are your thoughts? The very first sponsor I had when I was 22 was great in many ways but in others not so much, she never taught me how to effectively use the 4th step in real life. It wasn’t until over 10 years later that I had a sponsor who helped teach me in true life moments how to effectively use, arguably one of the best tools of the 12 step program. I’ve also had people who I’ve sponsored and who have sponsored me where it just wasn’t a good fit for one reason or another. So my question is if your core belief is that sponsorship is essential, if I had one of these sponsors that I previously described, to keep myself from being shamed, to be able to say I have a sponsor, is that effective toward my recovery? Do you know how many people in recovery have a sponsor just in name? Why do you think that is? Is it because they aren’t working a “good program” and they will probably relapse soon? Or is it perhaps because the sponsorship model is not effective or essential for them, and to appease the community they would rather have one in name than none at all? Just something to ponder.
Does talking about the notion of not needing a sponsor, not having one, not using one, stir up strong emotions in you? Why is that? I myself looking back was like that about many things, many belief systems that I had, regarding relapse, sponsorship, service, meetings. Funny how when a core belief that ties into your identity gets questioned, how flared up your ego can get. Am I saying that I will never get a sponsor again? No, not necessarily. But I won’t get one just to appease the fear of judgment or shaming from others, including myself. I’ll get one, if and when it is a good fit and if I feel it is would elevate my recovery or spirituality. Was this blog a way to deal with my already perceived reception of shame or judgment from others? Perhaps. Also, I like to think out loud.
I think sponsorship can be greatly beneficial. I do not think it is a requirement for recovery though. I do not think AA is a requirement for recovery. I think people have just as much of a chance of getting sober through church or SMART recovery or some other community-based recovery.
I am reading a book currently about habits and he talked in length about the studies that have been done on AA and why it has been effective. What studies have found is what makes AA work is the way it helps build new healthier habits and the power of belief that the program and community help generate within the recovering individual. The book, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, talks about how even once new habits are learned the only way they can be lasting is through the power of belief. He also states that community is one of the best ways to help generate and maintain a belief system. He gave some really different and cool examples about this. If interested, ask me about it sometime and I’ll tell you. Or get the book, it’s a great book.
The whole thing about belief also ties into what I am learning about in school this week. I am studying personality theorists, and the one who interests me the most is Albert Bandura. He is a social-cognitive theorist and believed that what we believe impacts our behavior. Basically, if we believe we can succeed we have a higher chance of success, primarily because we’ll be less likely to quit or to view setbacks as personal inadequacies. I know self-efficacy ties a lot into motivational theories as well, but I’m getting tired so I think this is where my ramblings end for the night.
Wishing you all peace and present moments.