There is a chapter in the primary text, known as the “Big Book,” of Alcoholics Anonymous (also utilized by other 12-Step programs) entitled Working With Others. This chapter delves into the importance of doing service and helping new people trying to recover. The chapter reads “Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail. This is our twelfth suggestion: Carry this message to other alcoholics! You can help when no one else can.” This is also true for those who choose to become recovery professionals.
The Importance of “Shared Experience” in Recovery
There is a term often bandies about in recovery known as “terminal uniqueness.” This refers to the feeling of “being the only one that struggles to such an extreme degree” while in active addiction. The idea that “no one could possibly have it as bad as me.”
Yet, once in recovery, it doesn’t take long for these same individuals to meet others who have felt the exact same way they do. Now, this does not mean that they have the exact same story and experiences. But it does mean that they have felt the same emotional despair and mental turmoil that tends to be universal among those who have experienced addiction.
This is what is known as “shared experience” in recovery. It means that people from all walks of life who would ordinarily not find themselves in the same circles are bound by experiences of addiction. They also can become bound via their experience of recovery. Many of these people choose to become recovery professionals to help as many new people who are struggling with addiction as possible.
Relating to Recovery Professionals Who Have Been Through It Themselves
Many people credit the success of Alcoholics Anonymous, and its subsequent offshoots, to the fact that the people who started these programs struggled with addiction themselves. This allowed other people to see themselves in their struggles and identify with their stories. Because they could identify with their addiction, it then gave them hope that they too may be able to identify with their recovery if they followed the same steps that they did.
This same concept applies to relating to recovery professionals who have been through active addiction before. Now, it should be noted that going through treatment and being in recovery is not a prerequisite for being an effective recovery professional. However, having been through it before does represent a unique qualification for those who have.
The Benefits of Working With Recovery Professionals Who Have Shared Experience
Many recovery programs have idealized themselves as programs of “attraction, rather than promotion.” This means that when people see people thriving in recovery who were once in the same place that they find themselves in now, it inspires them to “get what they have.” Also, this “attraction” is just one of the benefits of working with recovery professionals. They show that recovery works.
Recovery professionals are also highly beneficial in that they can spot certain behaviors that may jeopardize one’s recovery. For example, a recovery professional who has been through treatment before knows what it means when someone stops engaging in recovery meetings. It means they are disconnecting from their recovery goals and this could mean relapse or worse. They know because they have been there before
Recovery professionals also have a unique opportunity to share their own stories of active addiction so “newcomers” to treatment don’t feel so alone. They have the unique opportunity to share stories of their recovery so “newcomers” know what to do, and perhaps more importantly, know what not to do.
Recovery professionals have the type of connections to recovery communities outside of the treatment center that can be invaluable for maintaining long-term recovery after integrating back into day-to-day life.
Committed to the Cycle of Service: The Recovery Professionals at Lantana Recovery
In 1965, the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous met for their 30th anniversary. It was there that 100,000 alcoholics came up with what is now known as the “Responsibility Statement.” Now it is read at 12-Step meetings all over the world 24/7, 365 days a year.
The statement reads, “I am responsible – when anyone, anywhere reaches out for help, I want the hand of [recovery] always to be there, and for that: I am responsible.” Here at Lantana Recovery, our professionals, those who have been through recovery themselves as well as those who have not, take this statement seriously, and we honor it with every client we take on.
Our primary purpose is the successful recovery of all of our clients; always. For that, we here at Lantana Recovery, are responsible.
“Shared experience” can be critical for recovery. There is something to be said that only people who have been through active addiction can truly understand what the other person has gone through. While, of course, being in recovery isn’t a requirement to be an effective addiction professional, it can be very helpful. Most of the staff here at Lantana Recovery are in recovery themselves. We are proud of that fact and all of the hard work they put in to help ensure our clients receive the best treatment for a healthy long-term recovery. For more information about the benefits of working with professionals who have been through the recovery process themselves, please reach out to Lantana Recovery at (866) 997-2870.