Since the beginning of humankind, stories and traditions have allowed people to communicate. As civilization developed over thousands of years, our relationship to our stories evolved to the point where communication included sharing our thoughts, feelings, and traumas. Through this process of “telling,” we have learned the importance of sharing the painful experiences that drive our grief, and fear, as well as those things that bring joy, healing, and passion. “Telling” allows us to be heard, whether by family, friends, support groups, sponsors, or professionals.
Sharing is particularly important for people in recovery from substance use disorders. The struggles of those dealing with addiction are lasting, so support is essential. 12 step meetings have been in the forefront of providing that support. The telling of personal stories allows people to connect with others, being the healing process that restores relationships, and helps people return to work and to contribute to the greater good of society. Other support groups and programs serve the same purpose. Counselors, social workers, sober coaches, and other healing professionals play an important role in healing as well. Counseling begins as a listening tool to find out what’s going on. Narrative therapy empowers our recovery like nothing else.
One of my favorite recovery stories comes from one of my clients who told his story not only in 12 step meetings, but to me as his counselor. Struggling with his recovery, he was attending AA meetings while on probation for a DWI (he’d already served jail time), and was seeing me for outpatient therapy. He explains what turned him around it this way:
‘I’m allergic to alcohol. When I drink I break out in handcuffs.’ After laughing at his own joke, he talked about his drinking and legal problems. He always seemed to get caught breaking the law when he was drinking. Repeating this insight helped him to not drink as he was tired of going to jail. The story was his how-to stay sober.
Sharing helps us to let go of the issues that surround us. AA was built on the premise of storytelling. As we share everything that has gone wrong in our lives (and our part in the wreckage), the problems seem to lessen as we accept support and love from others who are compassionate. We have long known that keeping secrets keeps us sick. Being open allows us to take responsibility, to let go of helplessness and hopelessness, to end the suffering in silence, and to connect to the core of who we are. Through these stories, we learn to love and embrace ourselves and find a life worth living.
In sharing our stories, we offer hope to others. We can all relate to stories of trauma. When others hear our stories and struggles, it helps them to grieve and move on. Our stories also provide teachable moments for others to experience their own “ah ha” insights from our tales. We all have a need to understand; telling and listening engage this growth model of understanding.
Sharing stories is like a ripple effect for the broader community. As one person heals, so do others. By examining individual positive experiences, the broader society receives a collectable teaching experience. Education for everyone is a necessary component of recovery. As we utilize the power of stories in our lives and in the lives of others, we work towards a more enlightened society that focuses on wellness, love, compassion, and the spirituality of integration and transformation.
Utilizing digital monitoring testing as a recovery tool also aids in sobriety. Though 12 step meetings are extremely helpful as part of any recovery support program, digital monitoring can provide that extra layer of support and accountability to make relapse prevention beyond 90% effective for those who use it. Here’s one powerful story of this kind of recovery safety net.
I started using Soberlink after I left treatment almost 2.5 years ago. I used it as a safety net for my sobriety and also to stay accountable …. I also use Soberlink to give my family peace of mind. This helped me by taking away the ‘maybe just one drink, or I can get away with it’…. I know that working a recovery program is keeping me sober, but Soberlink has been a huge asset for keeping me sober and since I got sober, I have now gotten full custody of my children. My family has visited me 5 times this year, and life is beautiful, and I am forever grateful.
And that is what sobriety is all about – beauty and gratitude.
Reach Out Recovery Exclusive by Carol Anderson
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