I met with a very interesting man this week whose name we have changed of course. “Callum” was struggling with his stress levels and is frightened of this as he considers that not managing them well could lead him back to his old habits of Class A Drug use of nine years earlier.
During our conversation, I was saddened to hear him refer to his “recovery” status as if it was so very fragile, despite all that he had achieved since then – a successful relationship, business and children. I always am saddened when I hear people, who have had an addiction in the past, talking about their recovery as if it is a “suspended place” for the rest of their lives. It may well be the case for some people, who knows? (chicken and egg, chicken and egg…..) but one thing is for certain – its not case for everyone.
You will read many accounts of people who “did Crack for about 5 years – got off that and got back into music.…..” A good example of this “recovered” mindset rather than “in recovery” mindset is the actress Kathy Burke (metaphorical adoring curtsey at this point) who tells the story about her own heavy alcohol use in an earlier stage of her life: the tipping point for her was when someone suggested, innocently, that this was going to be her life from here on in. That moment, Kathy decided that it was not. Would Kathy Burke announce herself all these years later “in recovery”? I don’t know for certain but – I would guess no. As she said herself on Desert Island Discs: “I still have a drink now but I have it under control…….”
One can’t write about this whole issue without risking offending those who feel they benefit from the “in recovery” mindset but I genuinely feel that neuroscience research teaches us many things about how the brain reacts to “expectations” and this research makes you scratch your head, at the very least, on this whole issue of the influence of “in recovery forever….”
The sad thing is that it does seem that if a person attends a certain model of group therapy to support them in their transition towards well-being or as a first attempt at achieving well being – they are heavily influenced by the introduction of recovery as being “lifelong”.
I have blogged before on this mindset of “in recovery” and am as frustrated each and every time I meet someone who announces that despite being “well” for a long time (or indeed short time as I covered in the above-mentioned blog) are still encouraged to announced that they are “in recovery”. Its a valid question, I would consider, to keep asking those that introduce this “in recovery” mindset: “when will the recovered mindset be encouraged”?
This encounter is now on the case study which I have also called “In recovery” – a forever state of mind?