Why Does Recovery Often Seem So Difficult?

by Delton Russell, Consumer Affairs Specialist​​ – SA - Southern Region

If you asked 20 different people this question, you would likely get 20 different answers. For those of us in sustained recovery, it is a question that we will need to find some insight on at some point; otherwise we will likely struggle harder. Webster’s Dictionary defines recovery as:

  • the act or process of becoming healthy after an illness or injury
  • the act or process of recovering
  • the act or process of returning to a normal state after a period of difficulty
  • the return of something that has been lost, stolen, etc.

The problem many of us have with this recovery definition is that we culturally have a tendency to view such complex issues as one dimensional versus three dimensional. This goes for people in recovery as well as those supporting people in recovery.

Recovery can be defined as a three-fold process:

  • Acknowledgment
  • Education
  • Implementation

Before we can address an issue, we have to be honest with ourselves, and then be willing to do whatever it takes to change it. It is one thing to admit that you have a problem; however, it is difficult to make that change.

Acknowledging the issue and addressing it brings a sense of relief. We can see the possibility of progress for the first time. However, for someone that has not had much success in life, the idea of succeeding can be a double edged sword. While it is something we want so badly, subconsciously it can be terrifying and debilitating. To move past this fear, it is important to get into a program.

Lastly, the final and often most difficult part of the recovery process is implementation. Implementation is not always clearly defined, seldom ever black and white. It is often largely comprised of all the small things that we usually do not think matter: such as a friend talking about his struggle with weight and realizing his biggest issue was snacking on sweets. Those little pieces of candy did not matter when eaten one at a time, but over the course of a day, week, month and years, they became a much larger problem. This boiled down to a lifestyle change, not a diet.

Recovery is more than just getting something back that was once lost; it is a journey with a destination.