Recovery isn’t for you

Having been a moderately seasoned counselor for the last six years, I’ve come to realize that recovery isn’t for you.

Before you start drawing some conclusions, keep reading.

Sitting in counsel with many patients, conducting and facilitating various therapy groups, and utilizing all the best practices and evidenced-based material, I’ve come to realize the strength, empowerment, and hope recovery brings to people. Within sober support meetings, within treatment, and within these therapy groups, an individual is informed that recovery is for them. It’s a selfish venture. That recovery is not for any other person but yourself. 

Nevertheless, informing patients that recovery is for them and them alone does not diminish their fears and anxieties about treatment, change, and healing. Recovery presents a paralyzing fear. It is cumbersome, inconvenient, and invasive

Mindful Observation

I spent some time contemplating on how to manage and work with patients who are ambivalent, lacking motivation, and unwilling to adapt and utilize specific tools to facilitate a change toward a healthy,  meaningful life.  Whether a counselor or a patient, we have that one serious moment of clarity. For me, it was the realization that recovery isn’t for people who are suffering.

A person does not get into recovery to make themselves happy. One comes into recovery to bring peace and happiness to others around them. More than that, a person’s recovery is much more about relationships. It is about your family, your community, your employment, and the ability to give back to your community.

Upon this realization that I began to see how best I’m able to serve my patients. The desire for people struggling and wanting to move beyond their addictions is to do so in a manner that brings peace of mind to those around them. It is the realization that in order for a person to be successful in recovery, their focus is not just on themselves, it is on improving the quality of life around them. To bring healing to their relationships, and to be a part of other people’s lives. 

This is quite a shocking revelation. It goes against the current philosophy – if recovery doesn’t make you happy, then you are not doing it for yourself

A true recovery is never selfish. It is about love toward self and others. It’s about coming to a place of not only understanding your desires, your wants, and your needs. It is also coming to understand the wants, needs, and hopes. Selfish recovery focuses on “What’s in it for me?” Whereas, true recovery focuses on “What am I able to give?”

Recovery isn’t for you

Each person has a mixture of fear and resentment. Fear of their inadequacy to overcome what they are struggling with. Resentment for who they have become and the destruction caused by their toxic behavior. Out of this, emotions erupt. Out of this, our true selfishness and callousness is shown.

Yet, when we come to realize how recovery is not just for and about us – we are able to operate out of a genuine and authentic sense of love. All we are able to do is better ourselves, not for our sake, in order to better those around us. Recovery takes work. And, yes, recovery focuses on changing the individual person. However, when we are selfless in our recovery and realize we are not merely changing for our own benefit, then we are able to operate and live in serenity.

The paradox is this: the more you focus your recovery on improving your love toward other people, the more love you receive in support and appreciation for the effort it takes to make necessary and significant changes in your life.

Recovery is not for you. It is for those around you. 


Published by Timothy R. Berman

Founder and content provider for Damascus Way Recovery. Developing relevant content to educate, inform, and empower conversations regarding Homelessness, Substance use Disorders, and Mental Health issues from a Christian perspective and worldview.

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