Lot’s of really good people tried to help me get sober. My family tried. My friends tried. Professional therapists, doctors, even lawyers tried. Still, I just kept getting loaded. It wasn’t until I got connected to a bunch of recovering addicts that I was finally able to stop drinking and using for good.
What made the difference? Why are untrained strangers able to help addicts when everyone else had failed?
1. Language – Individuals entering recovery have typically been functioning within a small subculture of addiction, separate from everyday society. That often means that the language they use includes a lot of addict jargon that is incomprehensible to the non-addict. We also tend to cuss a lot. So we like other people who cuss a lot.
2. Humor – For lack of a better term, addicts tend to have “gallows humor.” I used to really love telling this one particular story about getting robbed at gunpoint at the dope-house. I thought it was hilarious, but most people found it horrifying. However, other recovering addicts were able to see the humor in the situation. Sharing a laugh like that can be one of the quickest deepest ways to form a bond.
3. Empathy – When a newly sober addict shares what they’ve been through and are met only with an understand look that says, “Yep, me too.” It can be a truly profound experience. Realizing for the first time that there are people who completely understand the powerless terrifying experience of addiction is like finding water in the desert.
5. Hope – Seeing another addict who has risen from the depths of addiction to become a happy fully functional member of society is a living-breathing billboard that shouts, “There is a Solution!”