Recovery isn’t easy. It’s difficult.
Recovery isn’t comfortable. It hurts.
Recovery isn’t fun. It’s demanding, sometimes with no reward at the end of the day.
But let me ask you something. Which kind of difficulty would you rather sit through? The difficulty of abusing, or the difficulty of working toward a healthier, more meaningful life? Which kind of discomfort would you rather tolerate? The discomfort of your addiction, or the discomfort of trying to recover? Which kind of reward do you want? The reward that pushes you closer to the edge, or the kind that gives you a stronger chance at a longer, happier existence?
The struggles of addiction don’t go away when you decide to recover. It’s not like a magic switch that you can just flip on and off. You are going to experience the same pain and the same struggles as before. The trick is learning how to deal with them in a new, healthier way.
I once learned something really helpful: in recovery, a decision that leads to short term pleasure will probably lead to long term suffering, and a decision that leads to short term suffering will probably lead to long term happiness. Let me explain.
A woman has been sober for 2 years and learns some disappointing news. She feels a strong desire to pick up a bottle of alcohol and drink the whole thing. This would lead to short term pleasure but, in the long term, will just send her spiraling down a dark hole of relapse and reinforce substance use to cope with negative emotions.
Now, say she decides to resist her urges. It’s uncomfortable. It’s painful. It’s HARD. In the short term, she suffers. But, in the long term, she sustains her recovery and proves to herself that she has what it takes to live a healthier lifestyle.
Both options involve some sort of discomfort. Some sort of pain. Some sort of difficulty. The question becomes, which one are you going to put yourself through?
It might seem tempting to just stay in the discomfort of your addiction. After all, you’re used to it. You know how to manage it. But is it worth it?
Don’t let the fear of difficulty and discomfort hold you back from pursuing recovery. Lean into it. Embrace it. Know that it is inevitable, but totally worth it. Unlike the difficulty and discomfort of your addiction, the difficulty and discomfort of recovery will create a stronger and braver you.
Happy National Recovery Month!
- Sarah Vidal, MSW Intern at THE PILLARS