Although history has shown us many examples of the oppressed becoming the oppressor, the emergence of this human habit in the addiction recovery communities is one that raises great concern. Infighting within any social change movement is a common, perhaps even necessary stage, but when people’s lives and well-being are at stake, it seems to me that we ought to shorten this period by taking a step back to regroup and unite. In addition to there being a clear urgent need to break down all silos and any either/or approaches to recovery, the strengths and skills of people in recovery make us ripe to tackle this human habit with a grace that could be a model for the world. It is time that we lead the way.
The bottom line is this: there is no one recovery pathway, resource or strategy that works or doesn’t work for everybody. No resource ought to be excluded if it works for even just one individual and their family, as should none be forced upon those for whom they do not work. Whether it is Alcoholics Anonymous, SMART Recovery, Women for Sobriety, Lifering, Overcomers Outreach, Millati Islami, Narcotics Anonymous or any other mutual aid group, there is a place for them all. Whether it is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Enhancement Therapy or Family Behavioral Therapy, there is a place for all evidence-based treatment interventions and promising practices. Whether it is abstinence-based, moderation management, medication assisted or reduction of use, there is a place for all approaches to recovery. Whether an individual initiates and sustains recovery naturally, with no treatment or mutual aid support, or an individual initiates and sustains recovery with a high level of treatment and mutual aid supports, a path ought to paved and room made for any possible course of action an individual selects as best for them. In order for more people to have access to recovery, we need all of our existing options and alternatives to be equally accessible and supported as we continue to seek out even more.
For those of us who find ourselves fanatical about one particular pathway or overly zealous in our slandering of another, it is time that we do some personal soul-searching about the origins of our attitudes, ideas and beliefs. For those of us who demonize a particular resource or deny its validity for those whom may have benefited from it, the time is now that we take stock of the possible harm we may be causing. One recovery pathway will work for one person while another pathway will work for somebody else, and there is place in this world for both paths – for all paths – to coexist peacefully with a little bit of the open-mindedness, ego-management, acceptance, tolerance and love that many of us in recovery have learned to practice. It is time that we lead the way.