By Sandy Thompson

The words “alcoholic” or “drug addict” can conjure images of a person who is scruffy looking, poor, underemployed, homeless, or in poor health. I have worked with hundreds of people in recovery and their family members, and very few individuals I have assisted fit that description. Those who don’t understand the dynamics of addiction may ask, “So why doesn’t he or she just quit?” or “Can’t they see what their alcohol or drug use is doing to their relationships, career, health, etc.?”

Not one person who is addicted intended to have an addiction. Re-read that statement. It’s that important!


Recovering from an addiction is as simple and as complex as stopping the use of the substance causing the problems. Most individuals find that stopping the use is the easy part. Staying stopped is what those in recovery find the most difficult. People who are in recovery will say when they initially got sober they felt great! Physically they felt better, brighter, and younger. They no longer had hangovers or wondered what they actually did or said or how they got home the night before. They had a new found sense of freedom!

These same individuals will then say that once that honeymoon phase ends (and it will) the hard work begins. When a person enters into recovery, he or she discovers that he or she can either have a peanut butter and jelly kind of recovery or a steak and lobster kind of recovery.

The PB & J kind of recovery means no drinking or using; maybe the person improves a few relationships, takes a little better care of his or her health, or maybe gets a little better paying job.


If the individual sets out to have the steak and lobster kind of recovery, which everyone deserves, he or she puts the quality of sobriety before anything or anyone else. Meaning, he or she does whatever it takes to protect his or her sobriety because without it, the person ain’t got nothing.

For some, that may mean getting a recovery coach, regularly going to support group meetings, taking medication, and getting involved in the community. It may also mean going to school, improving their skills to land a new job, making amends to the important people in their life, and on a daily basis, checking in with themselves to see where they did their best and where they could do better.

Being in recovery for an alcoholic or addict or a family member of one is HARD WORK. Recovery is not just the absence of the alcohol or the drug. It is hard work, but not impossible!