Honoring the journey of those who’ve overcome addiction

Published 11:02 am Tuesday, September 27, 2016

If you’ve ever had someone you love struggle with addiction to drugs or alcohol, you know how painful it can be.

As a therapist who helps people break free from addiction, I see the other side of the struggle. I see how hard people have to fight against the patterns they’ve used to cope with life. They’re fighting a disease of the brain, fighting their own genetics, and, in some cases, fighting some very intense physical cravings.

We are losing too many lives to addiction in this country. But what you may not realize is — we are winning a lot of battles too.

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Recovery from addiction is real and possible. It’s happening all around you.

Here in Lafayette County, people from across the country come to get help at Oxford Treatment Center. They go through medical detox and spend 30 to 45 days in residential treatment at our 110-acre campus off Highway 30. Residential treatment is just the first step in a life long journey to recovery. Just because you’re getting started down the right path doesn’t mean the road ahead is clear and safe.

We help people stay on the right path by working with them through intensive outpatient treatment and sober living housing. We know that having a couple of months to practice what you learn in treatment — rather than going right back to the life you had — can double your chances of still being clean in a year.

Recovery is a lifelong prospect. We support people who’ve come through our programs by providing free weekly aftercare meetings and alumni programs. We connect them to the growing recovery community here in Oxford and Lafayette County, where 34 AA or NA meetings are held every week.

Many people relapse before they finally surrender to the truth: They can never safely have another drink or pop another pill, or smoke another joint. Ever.

Can you imagine how hard that truth is? What if someone said you could never have another beer or glass of wine? What if that drink or drug had been the one thing that got you through each day? The one thing that numbed all your fears and regrets and depression?

Those who suffer from addiction are too often labeled and disregarded as hopeless. The reality is: They are having to learn a whole new way to live and cope without substances.

Recovery is hard work. It takes a long time. Treatment is just the beginning, but the hope for recovery is real.

If you love someone who can’t control their drug or alcohol use, remember that addiction is not who they are, it’s something they have. If you need a safe place to talk, come to our free therapist-led Family Hope & Healing support group. It meets Tuesdays at 6 p.m. at our Oxford Outpatient Office.

If you know someone who is in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction, make a point this month to acknowledge their hard work. They will tell you their journey is far from over, that recovery happens day by day. Let them know they have one more person walking beside them, cheering them on, one step at a time.

Amy Brownlee, LPC, is a clinical therapist at Oxford Treatment Center’s Oxford Outpatient Office on University Avenue. She leads an intensive outpatient evening program for people who can keep working or going to school while they get help for substance abuse problems.