Recovery: The Process of Changing Views Recovery, in this day and age, appears in the news almost every week, and thus society continually sees stories about survivors of tragic accidents-humanity celebrates the ability to cling to life-and the ever popular tales of celebrities struggling with devastating addictions, which the public praises even minimal improvements. Recovery, without the ill; the injured; and the celebrities, appears to the majority of society as an event only degenerates must experience.
Many people assume that only ex-miscreants have the pleasure of claiming they are ecovering or recovered. Furthermore, it seems to be human nature to imagine what recovered individuals were before entering recovery: equating the recovered drug addicts to the junkies with needles in their arms pumping demons into their veins and deteriorating their minds into a malleable mess, and relating the recovered alcoholics to the drunkards with bottles held in their hands as they stagger and blabber incoherent sentences.
Recovery, however, is not about who an individual was before entering recovery; instead recovery is about change. Against popular belief, recovery, without the celebrities and the onvalescents, does not apply to only one social or psychiatric status. In fact, recovery is a universal aspect of humanity, everyone must learn to cope with events during their life, and learning to cope is an often ignored aspect of recovery. Thus, no one is born with a special privilege preventing them from recovering, not even myself.
For six years of my life, I was the honor student with a secret: I suffered from anorexia. However, my friends eventually convinced me to recover; in short, recovery is a constant struggle, and relapses are hell. Too often society thinks that there are only two sides to recovery: an ndividual is either addicted or recovered, there is no in between. However, this belief is wrong. The entire process is like Wile E. Coyote’s inevitable fall after he runs over the edge of the cliff. At first, Wile E.
Coyote continues to run oblivious to the chasm below him, but he eventually plummets out of the sky once his forward progression ends. Recovery is stepping over the edge, and hoping we reach the other side instead of falling back into the abyss. Eventually, however, we succumb to temptation-we stop processing forward-and, as a result, we fall into a pit of despair. Thus, after we drag ourselves out of the void known as relapse, we start again, with desires of traveling further than earlier attempts, or we surrender, our hopes for recovery washed out of our minds.
Consequently, recovery seems flawed, because relapses and process are intertwined- when one ends the other begins. Since recovery is misguided, then perhaps the definition will reveal the mistaken belief. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, recovery is: “the act or process of returning to a normal state after a period of difficulty”. One portion of this definition is fallacious, and thus ecovery is currently is flawed. How can recovery mean “returning to normal”, when normality is subjective?
Universally, there is no definite normal, since people independently decide their version of normal. Moreover, addiction becomes customary: the addict’s normal becomes using drugs, and the alcoholic views intoxication as acceptable. Furthermore, the experience leaves an individual altered because of the memories and the possible damage to the body and the mind. Thus, it is impossible to reclaim the pre-addiction normal. Therefore, recovery is not “returning to normal”.
In my own experience, recovery focuses on changing what is acceptable behavior instead of ending the self-destructive problem, at least at the start. Because addiction becomes the victim’s idea of natural behaviors, recovery should focus on altering an individual’s view of acceptable behavior instead of “returning to normal”. Moreover, certain types of recovery may not even be possible. Because eating disorders are a type of psychiatric disorder, “recovery is not often defined in clinical trials. Recovery in psychiatric disorders is difficult to define and operationalize..
To date, there remains little agreement about how best to define recovery for eating disorders” (Lock 771). Since eating disorder lacks a consensus on recovery, people with eating disorders, and other psychiatric disorders, lack a definite end to their rehabilitation; thus some patients may be told by one psychiatrist they are recovered, while a second psychiatrist may say they are not recovered. Beyond the different opinions of psychiatrists, Lock also explains how there are various methods to determine recovery, but they often do not overlap.
As a result, a patient may be recovered according to one method, ut not another (771-772). Thus, a game of Russian roulette is in effect, the diagnosis of recovery is decided by the spin of the gun’s chamber; some players procure the empty chambers, while the unlucky players obtain the loaded chambers. Recovering from psychiatric disorders is not definite, therefore a dual approach, which encompasses both ending the negative behavior and treating the mental disorder, may positively help the patient recover.
Additionally, even addiction recovery may be impossible. As Thomas Hilton and Paul Pilkonis state, “it is widely accepted that addiction is a chronic brain disease. People are recovered once their mental state stabilizes, but the process can last for the “remainder of one’s life” (478-480). In other words, addiction recovery takes an extended amount of time, and some addicts will never recover completely because some individuals are affected by the mental disorder after the self-destructive behavior ends.
Furthermore, life events, withdrawal symptoms, and even poor sleeping patterns can cause relapses (Hilton and Pilkonis 486). In short, events not related to the addiction are able to cause relapses, since addiction affects the mind. The mental health of the addict must change before the addictive behavior becomes abnormal. If minor incidents in life cause relapses, then changing the patient’s idea of normal behavior is a way to help convalesce; thus helping to treat the underlying mental illness along with the addictive behavior.
Lastly, even the coping version of recovery may be impossible. While people learn to manage the sadness of losing a significant other or loved one, the memories never leave. After losing a relative, the pain remains for years and sometimes never fades. Even if the pain does fade, ecovering from life events remains impossible, because the normality before the change becomes unattainable; death is irreversible and relationships do not magically work the second time around.
Even the coping version of recovery requires changing; therefore recovery, no matter the type, focuses on changing the recoverer. While recovery may not be possible, the change is still worth it. Even though recovery seems impossible, people are able to successfully recovery every day. If recovery is possible should not matter, individuals still should strive to scape the cycle of addiction and relapse, and some of those individuals will be able to successfully change.
Multiple recovery methods exist because recovery does not have a one size fits all approach. Because of the multiple methods to use, people can mix and match to find the best path to changing. Perhaps the truth of the matter is that the individuals are not recovering, but are experiencing a change in their idea of normal. After all, my fellow recoverers and I have only allowed our sense of normal to change for a while; eventually, we manage to change our normal to a socially acceptable version.