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HomeAdvocacyThey Must Not Want it Bad Enough: Ending The Myth of One Pathway

They Must Not Want it Bad Enough: Ending The Myth of One Pathway

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They Must Not Want it Bad Enough: Ending The Myth of One Pathway

I was that guy.

The guy who upon hearing someone had a reoccurrence of use, said “they’ll be back when they really want it.”

Let’s be honest. There is a pathway to recovery that’s touted as the solution for addiction. Because of their long-standing history and profile in the public, 12-step mutual aid fellowships are often the gold-standard in getting better. When my mom thinks of recovery, she probably thinks of chairs in a circle somewhere, filled with people talking about their struggles, and the steps. I think it’s safe to say the majority of the public sees recovery that way.

“If I can’t get it here, maybe I don’t really want to be better. It’s the only thing that’s worked for all of these people. Maybe I really am hopeless.”

During my decade long struggle with substance use, I thought the same thing. I believed the only way I’d get better was to sit in those rooms and work those steps. So I tried, several times. When it didn’t work, I began to tell myself: “If I can’t get it here, maybe I don’t really want to be better. It’s the only thing that’s worked for all of these people. Maybe I really am hopeless.”

“They’ll be back when they really want it.”

After I was finally able to believe I was capable of living in recovery, I helped perpetuate that myth for others. I was 100% abstinent and if others weren’t they weren’t in recovery. I wouldn’t say that to the newcomer, but I would say things like “They’ll be back when they really want it.” or “They’re not ready.” I even said that I wasn’t ready when I first stepped into the rooms; I needed a little more “first-hand experience.”

You see in popular culture; fictional characters are represented as getting better by being in the rooms of the fellowships. When a character tries to “white knuckle it” they often eventually end up back where they started. When they’re on medication like methadone, they’re portrayed as second-class and slaves to the clinic.

“If I had known there were other options and they worked too, I may have gotten better.”

I realize now, when I was asking for help in those early days, I really wanted help. If I had known there were other options and that they worked too, I may have gotten better. If I had at least one person to counteract everything I knew about addiction and recovery up until that point that could say “you have a choice” things may have went differently.

I will always be grateful for the things I’ve gained from the steps and I choose to live my life now in abstinence, but I will refuse to believe it is the only or best option to find recovery. It is one of many pathways someone struggling can take to recovery.

As a community, it is our duty to stop quietly perpetuating the myths that one way is better than another. If someone is asking for help for a medical condition, we should help them. If one type of treatment doesn’t work, we find one that does.

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Born and raised in Denver, CO, Michael began has journey to recovery in 2013 following a ten year struggle with severe substance use disorder, incarceration and homelessness. It was then that Michael realized he was capable of becoming a better man, son, friend and member of the community. His struggles with the condition did not end there, but he learned about himself and his relationship with the world to ultimately enjoy living life the way it was. Today he has a family, a home, a career and is able to serve his community. Michael currently serves as Communications & Chapter Coordinator at Young People in Recovery and is pursuing a BA in political science from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

michael.miller@youngpeopleinrecovery.org

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