Less than a week ago, some people believed that the Mayan apocalypse would signal the end of the world. Fortunately, that didn’t happen, but for many addicts and alcoholics, we have already seen the destruction of everything we knew of ourselves before, which makes the apocalypse and recovery a somewhat interesting set of parallels.
Are the Apocalypse and Recovery All That Similar?
Contrary to popular belief, the term “apocalypse” is nothing more than the Greek word for “revelation”—in other words, it is a revealing of things that had once ben hidden. Obviously, The Book of Revelation/The Apocalypse of St. John is the first thing that comes to mind, but the reality is that there inherently is nothing fire-and-brimstone with regards to the word itself.
Because of that, it is a prime metaphor for recovery. We often think that recovery from drug and alcohol addiction is going to completely annihilate all that we thought we were and all we had come to know, but that is rarely the case—well, at least in the way we think it.
Often, we think that getting clean and sober is the end of the world. More than a few of us literally burst into tears when we realized in our deepest being that our lives—should we choose to continue living—would henceforth be without the use of chemical peace of mind. What we fail to realize through that, though, is that a far, far brighter path awaits us on the other side.
People hear the word apocalypse and think of the Beast, world war, famine, and the other malignancies of the world, and in many cases, these actually do reflect our alcoholic and addict lives quite well. We deal with nefarious characters, we compromise ourselves knowing that what we are doing is wrong, and we deny the things that we hold dear to us. Worst of all, we do all this to appease a force that knows no limits to its hunger: the disease of alcoholism and addiction.
Then, one day, deliverance arrives. We are given a choice that will either signal our salvation (in some cases both in the literal and metaphorical senses of the word), or our damnation. We can make the choice to either surrender and join the winning side, or we can opt instead to fight what we know is a losing battle that carries naught but misery and sadness for those around us and ourselves.
Although the 12 Steps are not exclusive to Judeo-Christian texts, it is also interesting to note that there are, in fact, quite a few similarities between the apocalypse and recovery if we honestly look at our pasts and the roads that lie ahead.