As 2016 comes to a close, with Christmas and Hanukkah on our doorstep and New Year’s following close behind, it could be easy to end on a grim note. With overdose death rates holding strong, the result of increased use of heroin and synthetic opioids like fentanyl, overdose deaths now take more lives annually than traffic accidents. Lawmakers continue to draft legislation for combating opioid addiction, but there are still many fears about how the various programs like the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) and 21st Century Cures Act will work and be funded to ensure addiction recovery is accessible.
Millions of Americans still struggle accessing addiction treatment and mental health services in several regions across the United States. So, at this point, the best thing everyone can do is hope that 2017 will be a better year regarding addiction recovery across the country. We should not find ourselves becoming discouraged, but rather remain optimistic about the addiction-focused legislation passed this year.
Rather than talk about the dark side of addiction this holiday week, we feel it is important that we discuss the millions of people across the globe who are dedicated to “living one day at a time.” It is often said that recovery is the most difficult thing people with an alcohol or substance use disorder will ever do. Which speaks to the paradox of addiction. Turning one’s back on substances that are in fact trying to kill you, would seem like a logical, even easy choice—at least to someone who has never walked down the dark road of addiction. Those who are actively working a program know this reality all too well, which is why they must make a daily commitment to abstain from drugs and/or alcohol and invest their energy in living a spiritual life. It is extremely challenging to stay the course year in and year out, but with the help of recovery programs and those working them—we can, and do recover from the pernicious disease of addiction.
Reading for Recovery
Those who found sobriety in the rooms of 12-step recovery, whether that be in Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, are all too familiar with the “Big Book.” They also know that without its guidance, long term recovery would be even more difficult to achieve. Inside the tomes of recovery, you will hear your own story of addiction (or a variation of it), and you will learn what is required of you to achieve continued recovery. The basic texts of AA and NA are essentially “how to” guides to working a program, helping people all over the planet work the “steps” and help others do the same. It probably comes as little surprise that TIME Magazine included AA’s basic text on their list of the 100 best and most influential books written in English since 1923 (the first year of the magazine’s publication).
The basic texts of addiction recovery are invaluable assets to society, considering that one’s mental illness has a negative impact on the entire community. It is fair to say that the world would be a little bit darker, if it were not for such books being written. We would be remiss if we did not point out that there are other books that can help people in recovery on their journey to be their best self. If you have been in the program for some time now, it is likely that you have read some recovery related literature. And maybe the writings of others helped you on your path. If so, then you may be interested to learn about, “Out Of The Wreck I Rise: A Literary Companion to Recovery.” Written by authors Neil Steinberg (“Drunkard: A Hard-Drinking Life) and Sara Bader (the creator of Quotenik), the book could prove to be a useful resource on the road of addiction recovery. “Out of the Wreck I Rise” is:
Structured to follow the arduous steps to sobriety, the book marshals the wisdom of centuries and explores essential topics, including the importance of time, navigating family and friends, Alcoholics Anonymous, relapse, and what Raymond Carver calls ‘gravy,’ the reward that is recovery. Each chapter begins with advice and commentary followed by a wealth of quotes to inspire and heal.”
Staying Proactive During the Holiday Break
Those of you in the program who will be traveling over the holidays may want to consider the recovery companion. You could have a lot of down time at airports or train stations, a perfect opportunity to invest in your program. There is much to be learned about addiction from authors who have struggled with the disease themselves even if, like Hemingway, the battle was lost.
At PACE Recovery Center, we hope that everyone has wonderful Christmas or Hanukkah, one that does not involve picking up a drink or a drug. Please remember, if you find yourself in times of trouble, help is always just a phone call away.