If you want to survive in this world, you need resources. You need water to drink and food to eat. You need electricity to power your home and heat to keep you warm (and probably good air conditioning if you happen to live in Texas). You need a bed to sleep in and retirement savings. You need money to pay for it all. It’s a simple concept, right? It doesn’t take rocket science to understand you must utilize resources if you want to survive. Well, it turns out the same goes for recovery. If you want successful long-term recovery and a life filled with joy and purpose, you must take advantage of recovery resources. My own story is the perfect example.
I’m one of those people who couldn’t get it right on the first—or even the fifth—try. I just could not stay sober. I knew addiction was destroying my life and making me miserable. My relationships were ruined and I was in terrible health. All the same, I just couldn’t stop using. I’ve had numerous stints in treatment, and I didn’t manage to stay sober after any of them. At least, not right away. A few days, weeks, or even months would go by while I struggled along, maybe even getting a job and paying my bills for once. Then, one day, I would give in, and it would be right back to using and the downward spiral. I had access to all the resources I could possible ask for. It was all right there, sitting in front of me. I simply chose not to take advantage of it.
It turns out, no matter how many chances you’re given, how many words of wisdom people share with you, how many counselors and how many prescriptions you’re given, none of it makes any difference if you’re not putting active effort in. I was given more than most people, and yet it didn’t help me, because I wasn’t doing my part. You have to get out there and engage with resources if you want them to work for you, and I just wasn’t doing it. It’s like applying for a job, dressing up for the interview, and getting hired, only to never show up for your first day. It’s not exactly a mystery why you never got a paycheck.
Months after my final experience in treatment, I found myself at a breaking point. I had relapsed (again), and was sitting there intoxicated. I wasn’t getting any of the good feelings I was chasing after. I just felt miserable and hated myself for throwing it all away for the thousandth time. I just couldn’t go on. It was time to make a change. So, for once, I decided to make use of the resources around me.
The first step was going to a meeting and getting a sponsor. I didn’t just sit there and zone out—I engaged, and I worked through the Steps like my life depended on it—because it did. I cut ties with my old using friends and spent time only with other people whose lives were going in a positive direction. I started taking care of myself, mind and body. In short, I took action—and things changed. The crazy part is, all the resources that truly made a difference for me were free.