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Lessons on Stagnation in Recovery


When our lives start to improve, and we no longer face major consequences from the disease, we may become complacent. My sponsor once said, “Procrastination is a subtle form of being self-destructive.”


How many times have we seen fellow recovering addicts do just enough to get by, lacking a sense of urgency to continue their personal growth and healing? Since it doesn’t look like our lunch is getting eaten every day by the disease, this false sense of security influences subtle stagnation, which often occurs because the surface-level symptoms of addiction were addressed, perhaps becoming “socially acceptable,” but the underlying disease itself remains untreated, and we have a fire still smoldering beneath the ground of self.


Just because we aren’t a problem to family, partners, friends, and employers... we have a steady job... money in our pocket... we’re not overdosing... we’re eligible to get off paper... that doesn’t always mean we’re in recovery... those are symptoms of clean-time and ‘behaving,’ ourselves but not recovery itself. At one point, I sought freedom from the consequences of my actions, not actual change. My goal was to get my juvenile justice case manager, addictions counselor, my mom, and my brother off my ass. I had no intention of ‘becoming one with the borg.’ My attention was in love with being a rebel, the counterculture, which, as it turned out, was just another expression of the disease and its nature that leans toward isolation on its terms.


The chronic nature of addiction invites an ongoing commitment to maintaining a path of healing and personal growth and development. The side effect of that is that we don’t relapse. This ongoing practice and process is necessary to meet the thinking mind’s constant adaptation to our current circumstances as it tries to co-opt our experiences and life as its own. The disease of addiction isn’t static or a pet rock. It’s very much alive, intelligent, strategic, and adaptive because it’s the mind’s survival instincts run amok.


一We Are the Practice Itself

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