Why We Need to Change Our Stories About Addiction

Recovery is about stories. Stories of hope, stories of change.

In addiction, the stories we tell about ourselves do not tend to have happy endings. Rarely are we the authors of our own journeys, and if we were to assign ourselves a character, it would not be the hero/ine. More often we see ourselves as the villain, or the victim, or a combination of both. Sadly, in recovery we often continue to tell ourselves stories that keep us stuck. Sit in your average 12-step meeting and you are likely to hear the same story shared over and over again; only the names and places are much different.

Sit in them for too long and you may find yourself, as I did, subtly altering your own tale of recovery to fit the dominant narrative: you have a disease that is “doing push-ups” as you speak, getting stronger even as you recover day by day; without the group, without a mysterious Higher Power, you are powerless, defect-ridden, and utterly self-centered. You must call yourself an addict forever, lest you forget.

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