By: Megan Dorsey, Pathway Guide, North Central Vermont Recovery Center
People in recovery from substance use face many challenges and have to make many changes in their lives to have success in recovery. For starters: Everything.
If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand (or more) times: “No one chooses a life of addiction.” Some are born into it through a gene pool, not of their choosing. Some have been prescribed medication to take away pain after a serious injury. Some simply had a bad day and took something or had a drink to ease the pain, and their introduction to addiction spiraled out of control from that point.
Unfortunately, this group of people is still looked down upon by many. They are called a burden on society, a menace, thieves, and worthless. Though their behavior while under the influence of a particular mind-altering substance may have been less than savory, that was the disease within the human working, not the human themselves.
Working in the world of recovery, I get to see the human instead of the disease. The people I work with are strong, determined, honest, and compassionate towards others. They have had to uproot themselves from everything, everyone, and every place they knew as home, and start over completely. That takes serious grit. While sometimes they struggle, and sometimes they briefly slip back into old ways, they keep trying. And all along the way, while picking themselves back up, they are lifting others. They are the ones helping, volunteering, holding doors, mentoring, and supporting others who are new to the journey they’ve walked with courage and pride.
I have heard many people in long-term recovery say they are now grateful for the disease of addiction they have within them. Without it, they wouldn’t have become the amazing people they are today and wouldn’t be working diligently every day to maintain a new way of life they can be proud of.
So, the next time you see someone struggling in the throes of their addiction and behaving poorly due to their angst and constant struggle, I encourage you to be compassionate. Remember the person they are about to become with the right help and support.
They are about to become someone who helps so many others find their way.