A hallmark of substance use disorder and treatment is that there is no one recovery journey—everyone experiences different roadblocks and successes on different timelines, and almost always requires a unique combination of support services along the way.
For National Recovery Month, we spoke with several of our clients and staff members in recovery themselves to learn more about their process, progress, positive experiences and the hope they feel on their recovery journeys. While most preferred to remain anonymous, Jesse Chaison, was comfortable reflecting on his path from Spectrum client to outpatient clinician, co-host of NERC’s Airing Addiction podcast and recent master’s graduate.
How has your perspective changed since you began your recovery journey?
“Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is recovery,” said Jesse. “Patience is difficult, especially at the beginning, but delayed gratification is extremely helpful to those of us in recovery. Everyday do at least one thing to better yourself: attend a meeting, talk to someone in recovery, listen to a podcast, go to the gym.”
Other clients echoed a similar sentiment, noting the importance of recognizing one has another chance, setting and accomplishing goals, and focusing on the day rather than yesterday or tomorrow. Others noted that they truly feel the individual attention they’ve received here and how that has helped them feel better supported.
Jesse added, “Focusing on the present is important…small steps equal big changes. If you’re in the past or future, you’re in fear and anxiety. Appreciate present activities and not living life in anticipation of ‘the next thing’ or ‘when I get there, I’ll be happy.’’’
What does hope mean to you, and how does hope factor into your recovery?
As we explored in last week’s blog, hope helps people persevere through difficult times, giving them confidence in the idea that things will get better, thus making it a significant concept for those in recovery from substance use disorder.
“Hope is found by identifying something to live for, a goal to work toward, a compass in both good and bad times,” said Jesse. “What’s your compass?”
Other clients noted that hope helps them believe that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, that anything is possible. It also helps them stay sober and pay attention to themselves.
What’s the most valuable lesson or experience you’ve had? What do you look forward to?
The importance of patience and speaking with someone about what one is experiencing or struggling with rather than keeping it bottled up were among the most valuable lessons our clients have learned.
For staff, client successes are the most anticipated and celebrated element of recovery. Seeing patients continue to change their lives and watching them graduate and maintain their recovery after completing treatment is what drives the Spectrum team. Topmost among the most valuable lessons our staff have learned was knowing when to listen.
Milestones are something many in recovery look forward to achieving and celebrating. Jesse shared, “My sober anniversary is a time of reflection. Some years I intentionally schedule something meaningful on this date. Sometimes it’s not intentional but it happens naturally. On my most recent anniversary, I was able to make a large amend to a high school friend whom I had not seen in eighteen years. This was one of those special events that I am grateful to experience in recovery.” These experiences and growth throughout the recovery journey help emphasize one’s successes and reinforce the will and desire to stay the course.
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction or a substance use disorder, call Spectrum Health Systems today at 1-877-MyRehab.