Addiction Recovery ≠ Addiction Maintenance

Despite all the advances in addiction recovery that have been made, we still are nowhere near a “cure” to the disease. Some claim to have found this Shangri-La, but in every case, they have remained wanting. At best, these supposed-miracle “cures” help with addiction maintenance; at worst, they create a new addiction all to themselves.

How can a company or individual claim that something is “non-addictive,” and yet not long after, turn around and say, “Oh, sorry, looks like we were wrong”? Every time, they have supposedly found the Holy Grail of finding a non-addictive drug, only for addicts lives disintegrate around them in an Indiana-Jones-esque mess when that was simply not true?

The fact of the matter is that most drugs, and most people, are hardwired to find the easiest and fastest solution. Addiction recovery is neither of those. It is a long, hard, arduous process in which the happy ending comes when the addict or alcoholic stays away from their vice for one more day, and maybe even cleaning up some of their past wreckage and/or helping another to do the same.

When it does not end happily, it is evermore heartache, devastation, shame, and all the stuff that we as addicts do everything in our power to avoid.

Guess how that generally turns out.

We are addicts. We are alcoholics. We don’t do discomfort. Ever.

How can anyone really believe that they have found a solution when we crave maximum pleasure with minimum pain by any means necessary? Even if we can’t get maximum pleasure, we will happily settle for being more comfortable than we are at that exact moment in time. Just that little bit is something that we can turn into an addiction.

Real addiction recovery is about freedom. So, if we are tied to taking a pill or a liquid to stave off the effects of a kick, are we really free? Isn’t that still deciding how we live our lives? Isn’t that the exact same place to which addiction to so-called harder drugs brought us?

We have to start somewhere, but addiction maintenance programs are (as the name suggests) meant to maintain an active addiction. It is not aimed at finding addiction recovery. Sure, the former is far easier than the latter, but when we want to be rid of something that we don’t want to deal with anymore, you won’t find anyone better at avoiding that discomfort than an addict.

Few of us have ever settled for “just high enough.” Many of us always thought that we could take it just a bit further. Addiction recovery is no different in that regard. We can be content in stagnation, or we can endure that comparatively short period of pain and have something mind-blowingly awesome instead.

The difference between addiction recovery and addiction maintenance is that addiction recovery makes even our worst days look enviable to those having a good day in the midst of their addiction. Addiction maintenance is a step in the right direction, but it is a step—not a final destination.

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