In 1956, the American Medical Association classified alcohol addiction as an illness. In 1974, the American Medical Association classified drug abuse as a disease. Like other diseases, addiction can be passed on genetically. However, one way to ensure that you will never develop an addiction is to abstain entirely from drugs or alcohol. Although there is not a cure for addiction, it can be treated. And with the right treatment, men and women can lead positive and fulfilling lives. Those who become addicted to a substance can enter a treatment program. And in this case, the disease is treated and often goes into remission. Yet, the disease of addiction is never fully cured.
The truth is when someone enters treatment, it is just the beginning. In treatment, a person is not only receiving the services that he or she needs to tend to the physical ailments of addiction. But someone is also receiving services that tend to the emotional and psychological ailments of addiction. In fact, you might say that treatment and recovery is a journey and not a destination.
Along the journey of recovery there are many tasks. Just like any journey or trek, there are goals to reach and places to see. There are new people to meet and new experiences to be had. Recovery is an experience of change. Because the illness of addiction is not going to entirely go away, the journey of recovering is the process of forever becoming someone new. For instance, recovery may include the following processes of change:
- -changing negative thinking patterns into positive ones
- -changing friends and acquaintances from those who have a poor influence to those who have a positive influence on your life
- -changing social environments (such as no longer spending time at bars)
- -changing how you value yourself
- -changing the ways you neglected your wellbeing to taking care of yourself
- -changing important family relationships by making amends
- -changing the way you treat yourself by forgiving yourself
Of course, as you read this list of changes, it might appear overwhelming. It might seem daunting to make all of these changes. However, you don’t need to do them all at once. In fact, that is why recovery is a journey. These changes happen over a period of time. Returning to the analogy of making a journey across the United States for instance, or backpacking across Europe, journeys frequently change the one who is traveling. Although he or she did not set out to change, the trip itself facilitated transformation. Perhaps the traveler experienced insights, visions, and new inspiration about his or her life. Perhaps the traveler met new people that opened their eyes to new ways of life.
This is the case with recovery. When you enter treatment, you are taking the first step on a life-long journey. When you say yes to healing the illness of addiction, you say yes to transforming your life.
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