View Full Version : Abstinence vs Recovery - Is There A Difference?
10-28-2007, 08:47 PM
I just remembered this site that I visited a while back and I've just been re-reading it again. It makes an interesting point about abstinence versus recovery, and I was wondering what everyone else thinks:
(From this website (http://www.alcoholanddrugabuse.com./))
Abstinence vs Recovery
Abstinence from alcohol & drug use on the one hand and recovery from alcoholism & addiction on the other represent two very different states. Sometimes the boundaries between the two become blurred, but they're definitely there. Read on...
Some alcoholics and addicts become abstinent but do not enter recovery. Abstinent, but not recovering, alcoholics and addicts show the following attitudes and behaviors:
* They maintain abstinence from alcohol and drugs because to drink and/or use again would most likely cause more problems.
* They don't enjoy being sober and clean, miss getting high, and feel disappointed in or angry about being abstinent.
* They maintain abstinence through will-power and believe that strong will-power is adequate for continued abstinence.
* They would like to drink and/or use again and would do so if reasonably sure that prior problems would not recur.
Some alcoholics and addicts are not only abstinent but also in recovery. Recovering alcoholics and addicts show the following attitudes and behaviors:
* They maintain abstinence from alcohol and drugs because to drink and/or use again would compromise the quality of life found in sobriety.
* They enjoy being sober and clean and feel grateful for sobriety.
* They utilize resources instead of or in addition to will-power to maintain sobriety and to learn healthier ways to think, feel, and act.
* They have no desire to drink or use again and would not do so even if reasonably sure that problems would not recur.
The bottom line is this:
Make no bones about it; moving out of alcoholism & addiction, through abstinence, and into recovery does not happen by accident or by magic. It requires time, patience, and above all - action.
I think your post is an important one.
Abstinence is more of an "I'm-holding-off-for-now" attitude, while recovery is more about thinking along the lines of, "I used to be addicted, but that was then and this is now."
10-31-2007, 04:15 PM
That is a great article. I think it does point out a very important issue. That adstinance and recovery are two very different things and just because you abstain from it does not mean you are recovering from the damages it has caused.
Recovery is long term where abstaining is just as stated above. Putting off for the time being. But then can come back whenever the need or feel it should.
05-29-2009, 08:04 PM
Abstinent and recovering. These two words appear to have the same meaning but they differ substantially when looked at over a long period of time. Abstinence may measure the same as recovery in a urine sample or blood test but the intention, expectations and the long-term durability of the two paths to “legally defined sobriety” are qualitatively quit different.
The abstinent addict is looking for a quick-fix for their problem where the person living in recovery seeks, desires and expects to find a new way of living without the need for any substances (crutches) in their lives. Abstinence may cure back problems (getting your license back, job back, family back) but it does not address the underlying causes of needing a mind-altering substance in the first place. A person seeking true recovery recognizes the truth about themselves, that is, that there was some kind of problem that existed prior to seeking out drugs or alcohol initially.
For the person who was uncomfortable in their own skin to start with, not drinking or drugging does not treat their bigger malady (anxiety, frustration, guilt or despair). The individual who is merely abstinent must go on to face these obstacles long after obtaining their short term goals or getting their stuff back.
There are a series of “simple to grasp” slogans used within recovery groups designed to get the newcomer through the next day/week/month or whatever short-term goal that particular program has. In all fairness to any counselor/teacher/sponsor these psychological tricks and tips are essential in the first few months of any kind of recovery and there is no practical way around them. The danger for the person in recovery comes when they continue to rely on these “band-aids” permanently and fail to heal the wound.
The limitations and weaknesses of abstinence typically do not show up until sometime later-on in the recovery process, when the now sober mind starts to realize that only a few things get better while most “life challenges” go on. They begin to recognize that most of the slogans they heard were simply not true or were gross exaggerations. One such slogan is; “just don’t drink, go to meetings and life will get better”. Your parole officer might think your life is better but he is looking at the situation from the perspective of a baby-sitter who is responsible for cleaning up your mess. The reality is that if you can’t sleep at night because of worries and fears, your life may in fact get worse and the 4 horseman of the Apocalypse may even move in with you. Peace of mind is a precious commodity to the soul living a sober life. Drugs and alcohol may have been a “rock” comfort-wise, but life without them may prove to be the “hard place” for the person who was caught in the middle and must now choose one side or the other. Now where does he or she find refuge?
A person taught to say the serenity prayer in his or her treatment program is in a better position than someone not familiar with the importance of peace of mind. Serenity is the deluxe edition of sobriety, which includes peace of mind, acceptance and a starting point for meditation. Without serenity, sobriety may not be worth having. True sobriety rides on the coat-tails of serenity. The next time you can’t sleep at night try asking yourself if sobriety is of any help in this particular situation.
Where humility has teaching power, serenity has healing power. That is the power to instill peace of mind. Just because someone was powerless over their drinking or drugging does not mean they have to be powerless over their recovery.
06-05-2009, 07:26 AM
i love this post. please keep up the good work.
07-27-2009, 05:45 AM
Great Post. I hear people in recovery say "Just don't drink" and it makes me sick. If "just not drinking" worked, Nancy Reagan's slogan of "Just say no" in the 1980's would have worked for all of us addicts, and we would have never drank or used again.
Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your point of view), we as addicts need to work a program of recovery to stay sober, otherwise our abstinence will not last long. A lifestyle free of addiction is dependent on being happy and content inside, otherwise our obsessive & compulsive need to drink and use will come back with a vengeance.
05-17-2010, 04:50 PM
Abstinence is the leading cause of relapse. Sounds kind of comical when heard for the first time. Almost like a contradiction of terms. In theory, abstinence is supposed to PREVENT relapse. How can it be RESPONSIBLE for relapse?
It turns out that the recovery process cannot be done in one simple phase. Not unlike getting a car or truck rolling along it takes more than one gear. Abstinence is comparable to first gear in a motor vehicle. It is the best and sometimes the only way to get a massive vehicle in motion but not unlike a car going down the highway, being stuck in first gear is destructive. At some point the cars engine will blow apart from too much stress.
Rehab programs seldom talk about this matter because it is simply not their job to talk about long-term recovery strategies. Their goal is typically one of getting the subject to reach some short-term goal that can be achieved and measured within a short time frame,
typically 30 to 90 days.
So what is the equivalent of second gear in the recovery process? Principles to live by. Specifically rules to live by that can be used to day in and day out without overloading ones psychic engine. Some of these principles can be summed up in simple to grasp slogans like; one-day-at-a-time, easy-does-it and first-things-first. These are more or less psychological tricks and tips that can be used in times of stress.
There is more to recovery however than just psychology. There is an even higher set of principles that can be viewed as the equivalent of over-drive in an automobile. That is spiritual instead of psychological principles.
Spiritual principles are harder to learn than psychological principles because some of them are hard to grasp at first. In fact, many of them are closer to paradox’s than logic. That is why it is best to leave them for last in the learning process.
The fundamental spiritual principles are not too bad to deal with like honesty, open-mindedness and willingness but some of the deeper principles like humility and serenity are beyond the grasp of those new to the recovery process.
Perhaps the most esoteric spiritual principle to grasp is true humility. A word often confused with humiliation. The easiest way to distinguish between the two is to remember that humiliation leads to fear, guilt and shame where humility leads to insight into new truth. Another important difference between them is that humiliation is 100% pain where humility is 50% pain and 50% gain. As body-builders would say “no pain, no gain.
All those who are suffering from an addiction have a serious lack of insight. Humility, more than any other tool, can circumvent this problem and provide new and lasting paths to the truth about themselves, their disease and their potential to change. Think of spiritual principles as the over-drive that allows an auto to cruise for countless hours of stress-free progress on the life-long journey to recovery.
05-29-2010, 11:02 PM
Many people call Abstinence without Recovery is a "DRY Drunk", not using the chemical but still very angry and unhappy. Not living the happy, joyous and free life of recovery. There is certainly a difference between Abstinence and Recovery.
Visit www.alcoholism-support.org/Dry-Drunk.html (http://www.alcoholism-support.org/Dry-Drunk.html)
and Drug-Addiction-Support.org (http://Drug-Addiction-Support.org) for more information.
08-22-2010, 04:36 AM
Abstinence is not drinking and feeling bad about it
Recovery is not drinking and feeling good about it
I used to use alcohol to feel good about not dealing with life
Now I use life to feel good about not dealing with alcohol
11-30-2010, 02:59 PM
Some need one more than the other, mine is not to chose for you, but only for myself.