If there are many pathways to addiction, there must be many pathways to recovery. I started drinking for the same reasons everyone else did, but it just didn’t work out for me. So whether or not you believed addiction is a disease- you knew it wasn’t working out for you. What did you do about it? How did you quit?
We are about to introduce an idea that requires a bit of a perspective change, a paradigm shift if you will. If I started drinking for the same reasons everyone else drank and it didn’t work out for me, does that mean I have the genetic predisposition for addiction? Or does it mean it is likely I was abused, neglected or otherwise traumatized? Or does it simply mean that I had some life stressors at that point which caused my drinking to get “out of control”? So the answer is “maybe” to all of that. Some of us identify with the group of people in recovery that believe it’s a life long journey and that “I will always be an alcoholic or addict”. Others do not. There is a group of people in recovery that say that the very idea of saying “I’m an alcoholic” is unnecessary and not helpful. This demonstrates that there are many groups of people in recovery with like-minded goals but with differing approaches. We hear of many different recovery stories. All should be told and all should be heard.
Recovery Allies trains recovery coaches. One of the things in particular that we focus on is being aware of and understanding different pathways. On day three of the Recovery Coach Academy we spend three hours discussing this topic. After a few trainings we realized something. We looked around and said “where are they?” We realized we had an opportunity to help grow this aspect of recovery supports.
This is not in response to AA being effective for only a certain percentage of people. Lets just say the percentage is somewhere near 30% (the % is not the important part here so bear with me). No one pathway boasts much more- if any more. This is in hopes of creating more mutual aid groups that have a similar success rate. Imagine if we had five mutual aid groups that had 30%? Imagine how many people would be grateful for additional options in the quest to get well.
One more benefit of starting more mutual aid support groups is on the advocacy front. When not bound by traditions that keep us from talking about addiction recovery, we can create an advocacy base that can dramatically influence things like policy, stigma, and marketing (we have a bit of a problem with the million’s of dollars the beer industry spends on marketing their product to the young and poor. Have you seen the advertisement for Natural Lite that says “family pack”? ).
This issue is dedicated to pathways. You’ll find information about a few of the pathways our readers have shared as well as mutual aid groups from across the nation and cultures.
Recovery Allies is happy to report to our community that we have received a grant from the State’s Office of Recovery Oriented System of Care (OROSC) to start additional mutual aid support groups. We have been tasked with starting meetings “other than A’s” in a 15 county region from Coldwater, to Benton Harbor to Ludington. The goal is to start the meetings, market the meetings to treatment centers, courts, the recovery community and other places that want additional options to recommend to someone seeking support in recovery. We have until September 30th to help start them and hand them off to the communities. If you are interested in helping with the project please contact us. Without you this won’t happen!
Again, this is not about one pathway not working; it’s about offering choices. Those that have great affection for Alcoholics Anonymous will be happy to know that about 40% of those that report using a different pathway, report also using AA. And to address one more question I have been asked about LifeRing specifically; LifeRing is not anti God, just like Weight Watchers is not anti God. Again it’s about choices.
We think the time is right for this. The North Alano Club of Kent County is demonstrating that. We have included the meeting list for the club in this issue. Note the category “other”. The fact that individuals in Grand Rapids that are very loyal and passionate about the 12 steps, are embracing “other” pathways, under the same roof, is incredible. We are very fortunate.
I might be overstepping here, but I think it is just the way Bill Wilson (let’s not forget Dr. Bob…) would want it!