Everyone’s in Recovery From Something

English: A graph of the Early 1980s recession ...

English: A graph of the Early 1980s recession in the United States. Blue line is Percent Change From Preceding Period in Real Gross Domestic Product (annualized; seasonally adjusted) Red line is Average GDP growth 1947–2009 Data is from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve spent most of my professional career working with people who drank too much. Or smoked too much.  Or (fill in the blank) too much. And failed at controlling the behavior. To get it under control usually means not doing it. Why is this? Why can’t people just do it in moderation? Well, when the question is asked like that, the answer is that some people can do it in moderation. Statistically, the average alcohol user doesn’t have a problem. Statistically, the average pot smoker doesn’t have a problem. Statistically, however, the average cigarette smoker does have a problem. Ditto heroin users. and 85% of Americans used caffeine today. I know I did. Nevertheless, there are people out there who tried heroin and didn’t like it, or who smoked crack and didn’t like it. Back when I used to smoke cigarettes a friend of mine would bum one from me every now and again “just to see if I’ m addicted.”  He knew he wasn’t, and he knew I was.

But the thing is, stopping an addiction is usually referred to as being in recovery. Recovering from the addiction. But there are also gambling addictions, sex addictions, food addictions, and we could increase the list. But isn’t RECOVERY kind of a wide-ranging word? People say that the economy is in recovery from the Great Recession. People can be in recovery from surgery, or a heart attack.

Recovery means to get something back, right? If I stumble but don’t fall, I recovered my balance. If I lose my wallet and it’s turned in, I’ve recovered it.  Also, If I go through a bout of major depression I can recover from that, presumably getting back my emotional equilibrium. The thing I’m thinking about right now is this: everyone’s been through bad times. Even if you’re going through a bad time now, it’s highly likely that you can think of another bad time you had in your life. You got through that, didn’t you? Even if I feel like I was born under a bad sign, been down so long it looks like up to me, whatever– there are better and worse times. The natural tendency of the psyche as well as the body is to bounce back. Weird idea, huh?

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About jamesmatter

Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) in private practice in San Francisco. I work with adults, adolescents, and couples, with focus on substance use and abuse and co-occurring disorders (having both a mental illness and an addiction).
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