Why Embracing More than One Recovery Path Worked for Me
Sober – what does that mean? Alcoholic. Addict. Rehab. Alcoholics Anonymous. Church basements. No fun. No enjoyment. No young people. Alcoholism. Disease. Bad. Pathetic. Wrong. Dirty. Those are all of the words that went through my head in 2013 when I was considering that I might have to get sober. Unfortunately, it’s a true testament to the stigma still attached to addiction and recovery. I didn’t know there were different options out there. I didn’t know sobriety could be cool, fulfilling and rewarding.
I also had the misconception that the only way to get sober was through a 12 step program. I believe a lot of people think this because it’s the most used recovery pathway and it’s the thing we automatically think of when we hear “sober.” But it’s not the only way! I didn’t realize that what I was doing in the first year of my recovery was making my own recovery pathway. I did this by trying different things and keeping what worked for me. This is an ongoing process and as the years pass by my recovery continues to evolve.
I believe when we think there is only one pathway to recovery it limits us, and it forces others into a box they might not fit in. During my first year of recovery I spent time researching and reading about addiction and sobriety on different websites and in different books. I began writing about my experiences on my blog. Although I was reluctant to try AA, I did end up first attending online meetings, and then face-to-face meetings. Each of these experiences helped in my recovery. I enjoyed being a part of a sober community, getting guidance from a sponsor and being led through the 12 steps.
Additionally, I’ve found CrossFit, yoga, meditation, a daily gratitude practice and writing continues to be at the core of my recovery. I’ve built and become a part of several different online recovery groups. I’ve hosted and attended different recovery retreats and gatherings. And I’m still open to finding new ways to enhance and move forward in my recovery. Each piece of my recovery program serves me in a specific way. Some of the tools and areas of my recovery program serve me for a limited time and then I move on. None of this is the wrong way to do it. In fact, I believe that embracing more than one recovery path is what has made me successful in my recovery.
Don’t let anyone tell you that there is only one way to get sober, or that you can only choose one way. Maybe your path will start out one way and end another way. Last year I made the decision to stop attending AA meetings and here I am, still sober, still thriving, still finding and using new recovery tools. I don’t regret going to AA, it served me for the time I was there and I learned a lot. Maybe your story starts in treatment and continues with yoga. Maybe you found Refuge Recovery or SMART recovery. Maybe writing has helped you. Maybe you serve others and passing on the message of recovery helps you stay sober. I would gather that for most people it’s a combination of these recovery pathways that gives their life meaning and helps them remain sober.
For me, the excitement and knowledge that comes with new literature, new tools and new pathways have been a game changer. I am constantly striving for new recovery research and tools that make sense to me. As I grow, I change and so do my sobriety tools. As time carries on, new support groups, new ways to connect with others in recovery and new books are being written every day to help us get and stay sober.
My advice to anyone who isn’t satisfied in their recovery or are happy in their recovery and feel guilty for looking outward, open your mind to the idea that you can have multiple pathways in your own sobriety. It changed the game for me and it could do the same for you. Keep striving to be the best person you can be. Keep striving for fresh takes on sobriety. You’ll know when you’ve found something that feels right, in fact you’ll probably find multiple things that feel right. That’s the beauty of recovery for me and I hope the same for you.
About the Author
Kelly Fitzgerald is a sober writer based in Southwest Florida who is best known for her personal blog The Adventures of a Sober Señorita. Her work has been published across the web including sites like The Huffington Post, Thought Catalog, Ravishly, SheKnows, Elite Daily, The Fix, Brit + Co, Addiction Unscripted and AfterPartyMagazine. She is currently writing a memoir.