Steven made a promise. His younger brother, Peter, is playing in the little league championship game today. Peter is so excited that he has talked about nothing else for a solid week. Every time he sees his older brother, Peter asks “Steven, you are definitely going to be there, right?” And Steven always replies “Of course, Pete, I wouldn’t miss it for anything. I’ll be there, I swear it.”
And now the day of the big game is here. Their mother has made sure that Peter’s uniform is spotless, with no sign of any dirt or grass stains to be found anywhere. Their dad got up early to mow the lawn so they would have the whole day after the game to go out for pizza and a movie. And Steven? Well, Steven is nowhere to be found.
Peter rides in the backseat of his parents’ car by himself, fighting tears and hoping that Steven will show up to the ball field on his own. Peter is heartbroken, but not really surprised. You see, Steven has a habit of breaking his promises. He makes many promises, and he always has the full intention of keeping them, but, inevitably, something seems to come up. Something always seems to get in the way. Steven has a problem. Steven is addicted to drugs.
If you or someone you know has ever been struggling with addiction, this situation is probably quite familiar to you. Chemical dependency can make a person quite selfish. The drug or the drink becomes more important to the user than anything. More important than keeping their promises. More important than fulfilling their obligations. More important than living up to their responsibilities and the expectations of others. The drug and the feeling that comes with it becomes more important than their friends, family, career or education. It becomes the user’s whole world, even when they can see the pain and turmoil they are putting those close to them through. And, even though they may really want to quit, to stop hurting themselves and others, to right the wrongs in their lives, they feel helpless. They feel powerless to stop. This is the essence of addiction: losing the ability to control their own lives and putting their substance abuse before everyone and everything.
A big part of recovery is learning how to reconnect with others and appreciate the world around us. In the midst of chemical dependency, the user will often feel very alone, even in large groups. They will feel like an outsider, as if they just don’t quite fit in with everyone else. This is due, in large part, to the personal disconnection that substance abuse will often bring with it. When we learn to overcome the self-serving instincts that long term drug and alcohol addiction can cause, we can begin to find our place as functioning members of society once again. We can learn to feel like we are an important part of something much bigger than ourselves. We can learn to contribute, to give back. Compassion and empathy return, and the desire to help others becomes prevalent.
In Battle Creek, MI, where A Forever Recovery is located, a 5K walk was recently held to help raise money for research and patient services in the battle against breast cancer. A large percentage of the money needed for this kind of work is raised through charity events like this one. “Making Strides against Breast Cancer” was the theme, and there were pink ribbons, clothes and balloons everywhere. The American Cancer Society lists breast cancer as the second leading cause of death among women in the US and, although advancements in detection and treatment have led to an increase in survival rates in recent years, the fight is far from over. By holding fundraising events like “Making Strides”, everyday people can help support this underfunded cause, allowing cancer patients, survivors and their loved ones to get the medications, treatments and services they need.
But those aren’t the only people who can benefit from charitable fundraising activities like this one. A team of patients and staff members from AFR participated in the walk, raising over $500 in donations to help with the research and treatment of breast cancer. For many of the patients that participated, the willingness to do something selfless and solely for the benefit of others was a delightful and welcomed change from their old ways of thinking and the selfishness that came with their addictions. It lets them know that it really is possible for them to leave behind their old lifestyle and become contributing members of society. It also lets them know that they are making progress in their recovery, further encouraging them to work even harder towards making the changes that will help them maintain a healthy and substance-free lifestyle. By participating in an event that was all about helping others, the AFR team members weren’t just “Making Strides against Breast Cancer”, they were “Making Strides toward Recovery”.
The treatment program at A Forever Recovery is not just about getting clean and sober, it’s about making a personal transformation. When our patients find the desire and the will within themselves to try to make a difference and to try to make the world a little bit better each day, they find that they are also getting a little bit better each day. They find the self-confidence they need to continue on the path toward a better and brighter future. They find the world around them a little more inviting. They find a place that they can belong again.
To see more about events, patients and staff members at A Forever Recovery, pay a visit to our YouTube channel.