While I was in prison, anyone with drug or alcohol offenses had to complete a substance abuse treatment program before being released. When I reached the second half of my sentence, I was shipped out to a low-level state facility to fill this requirement.
For about a year, I spent my days taking addiction education classes and my nights at AA meetings. 12-step programs were the only treatment method recognized by the Department of Corrections and it was routinely drilled into my head that it was the only way to get and stay sober.
There’s No Predetermined Path
Outside speakers regularly told me to get a sponsor. And to complete the treatment program, I had to prepare a 90-day treatment plan (to be implemented upon release) that included AA or NA. In their minds, 12-step programs defined addiction recovery; anyone who didn’t participate was either hopelessly lost or doomed to fail.
Needless to say, not many women in the program kept up “the ol’ 12-step routine” after their release. In fact, many took their own paths – some went to counseling, some went cold turkey, some changed their people, places and things. Others picked up where they left off, violated their probation for drugs and went right back to prison.
Despite a few failures, there were far more success stories. Many in the last three years have gone on to lead incredibly happy lives (at least from what I gathered on Facebook). They’ve experienced new marriages, new babies, new careers – basically, they’re experiencing life away from drugs or alcohol.
Go Your Own Way
The bottom line is, there’s always going to be some “recovery snob” telling you there’s only one way to do things. But the truth is, there’s no magic bullet or single treatment that works for everyone. Recovery isn’t one-size-fits-all – it is moving towards a better life using whatever tools available to help you get there.
There’s plenty of different recovery options, so find what works for you and stick with it. Odds are, no matter what treatment path you choose, you’re destined for success if you put in the drive, dedication and hard work.
Additional Reading: 9 Steps to Building a Self-Care Plan in Recovery
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