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Worrying About Other People’s Recovery

One important aspect of recovery is having a tribe of people who support you. That could be friends and family, or it could AA or NA. Having the support of friends, family and group is ideal. It’s good to have people to give you honest feedback and advice, or just listen to your problems. Talking to someone who understands can make a world of difference no matter what you’re going through.

Having a tight group of concerned fellow travelers can, at times, be a double-edged sword though. It’s not always clear where tough truth ends and attacking begins. Some people in AA and NA take a hard line. They generally mean well, but their straight talk often comes off as harsh and dogmatic.

Sometimes this attitude is counterproductive. Addicts usually have enough critical voices in their own heads without needing spares. It’s difficult to feel attacked and supported at the same time. And while there are common themes in addictive behavior, the well-meaning but harsh critic is more often speaking to his own failings rather than those of his would-be beneficiary. Unfortunately, this dogmatic approach, to many people, characterizes 12 Step programs and makes them reluctant to attend meetings.

What’s more, addiction science is in its relative infancy. 12 Step programs helped many people, and continue to help many people, before doctors or scientists had begun any systematic study of addiction, but it’s also important to make room for new information. Some groups and treatment centers, for example, are extremely hostile to the idea of medication assisted treatment, despite a lot of clinical evidence that it works. It doesn’t work for everyone, of course, but if it gives someone his life back, who is anyone to say he can’t have it, especially for purely doctrinal reasons? How is it better to ostracise someone from NA if he takes Suboxone? Everyone has different needs in recovery, and more options simply means more people can regain some control over their lives.

It’s never easy to tell when support becomes overbearing. Group members who know you can’t make anyone get sober will sometimes try to keep others sober through sheer force of will. When it comes down to it, no one really knows what someone else is thinking. No one knows what someone else needs to stay sober. You can and should support your fellow recovering addicts, listen to their problems, give advice if they ask, but remember that they are responsible for their own recovery, just as you are responsible for yours.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help you detox safely and decide on a treatment strategy. Call us today at 844-325-9168 or email us at to learn more.