It’s Recovery Month! As defined by SAMHSA, “National Recovery Month (Recovery Month) is a national observance held every September to educate Americans that substance use treatment and mental health services can enable those with a mental and/or substance use disorder to live a healthy and rewarding life.”
This week, I reached out to students in the StepUP community to uncover different perspectives of what recovery means to different people. We have a lot of amazing students in our community with amazing stories, and it was a good opportunity to learn more about some of my classmates. Here is what the community had to say:
“Recovery, to me, is an essential part of my life; I strongly believe I would be dead without it. Recovery means becoming close with fellows and becoming a part of a family you will never forget. Recovery most of the time looks like love, serenity, and freedom. Although I do have my bad days, I would never trade what I have today for anything.” -Emma S.
“Recovery, to me, is being able to participate and be a role model in society. It means living a spiritual life and adhering to my buddhist vows. It’s also not relying on any external sources for my happiness; like people, drugs, or grades.”-Kaleb N.
“The healing gift of hugging my grandparents without feeling like a fraud; the quiet joy of sharing a genuine smile with a passing stranger; this deep stillness in an ever-turbulent world– how could I truly say what recovery has done for me?” -Chad B.
“Recovery to me is not just being sober. It is bettering myself and improving my self awareness. I also see recovery as being a part of a bigger picture in life, and I need to be of service to that larger picture as best I can. Under the watch of my Higher Power I need to be helpful, insightful, loving, and understanding to and of all other things in my life, so I can live life happy and on life’s terms.” -Matt K.
“When I first got sober, I liked to think of recovery in the most literally sense of the word. I am living in a such a way where I am recovering from this disease of alcoholism that I have. Recovery isn’t about just stopping the use of drugs and/or alcohol. I realized very quickly after I got sober that even when I am not drinking, I am still a very sick individual. Until, that is, I applied the principles of AA into my life. The biggest thing recovery has done for me is giving me a completely different perspective and outlook on life. Before I got sober, my life was very black and white, I always had an excuse for everything, and it was always someone else’s fault. I never took responsibility for anything in my life. If something bad happened it was quite literally the end of the world. Today, I have the ability to be less reactionary to the things that life throws at me. I have the ability to take a step back, assess, and make rational judgments and then actions for what I am experiencing in that moment. Recovery has also given me the ability to show up in life. As a daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend, student, employee, etc., I no longer feel the need to hide from life, but enjoy being a functional member of society. I have been sober for almost five years, and my recovery is definitely not perfect and has ebbed and flowed. When I am working a program, it is going to meetings, working with my sponsor, being of service, and showing up in other aspects of my life that don’t fall into the category of recovery.” -Elle A.
“Recovery, to me, is getting a second chance at life. I feel like a child trying to figure out who I am; what I enjoy and what I don’t. Recovery is trying new things and getting out of my comfort zone, failing and learning from my mistakes. It’s about bettering my mind, body, and soul. Recovery is about safety, it’s about love, it’s about giving back to what was so freely given to me. Recovery to me is living each and every day with grace and dignity. It’s about leaving this world a better place.” -Kate E.
“What recovery is to me is so much more than just solving a substance abuse problem. It’s solving a living problem. Being in recovery has given me the opportunity to evolve into the person I always wanted to be. It has allowed me to express gratitude for everything my loved ones have done for me, and I’m blessed to be able to reciprocate that and show up in their lives when called upon. Most of all, recovery has allowed me to be a son, a brother, an uncle, and a friend again.” -John M.
“My addiction crippled my life. Everything that I knew was revolved around using. I lost myself. Recovery has helped me find myself. I took my greatest weakness and made it my greatest strength. Recovering has taught me that I am so much more than an addict and that if I can recover from drugs, that I can do anything. I am currently a Junior at Augsburg College, studying clinical psychology. I want to spend the rest of my life helping people who are suffering like I did. I have learned that I am never alone. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the people I have met in recovery. They have helped me save my own life. Recovery has given me purpose and a reason to live, and for that, I am forever grateful.” -Neil K.
“When people ask me if I am in recovery, of course, I answer the question without hesitation and with confidence. However, it is not that black and white for me. Answering that question with a simple ‘yes’ does not rightly and accurately describe what that means to me. When I hear the word ‘recovery,’ it tickles something deep down inside of me in which I am passionate about, and words will never meticulously depict the magnitude of how imperative it is my daily life.
Recovery is not just abstaining from drugs and alcohol, I would call that surviving. Personally, I strive to thrive in my recovery, which is so much more than just abstaining, and in my opinion I thrive in recovery every single day. Recovery touches every aspect to my life. However, it does not define me. Being in recovery allows me to be the best version of myself, and that is what I expect.
Since making the most vital, life-changing decision I have ever made at 18 years of age, my life is nothing that I thought it would be. In fact, it is indescribable. Firstly, I have the freedom to be me. Secondly, I am able to be the absolute best son, friend, brother, cousin, role model, and student I am able to be.
Because I am sober and in recovery, I have found hobbies and activities in my life that I would not have found if I was still using. For example, I have fallen in love with yoga. Yoga allows me to calm my mind and truly be in consciousness, and be not only physically present for my life, but also mentally and spiritually present. Also, I enjoy physical fitness, such as working out, running, obstacle races. Physical fitness pushes me to places that I hav
e never gone before mentally. The mind is incredible, but is like a muscle and it takes practice and practice mastering it.
Recovery fills me with love, truth, kindness, affection, and some more love.” -Jordan L.
“One night when I was a little girl, long before my addiction and depression took over, I remember praying that one day I could have a close relationship with God. I prayed that I wouldn’t go my whole life putting off having a relationship with my higher power. As a 20-year-old college student in recovery, I reflect on that night often. I was probably in elementary school when I made that prayer; it was the purest, most genuine thought I could have had at the time. I sometimes feel like my whole life after that was God answering that prayer. If I didn’t go through the terrible times my use and depression caused me, I wouldn’t feel the overwhelming gratitude for the little things today. I never would have been in recovery, which ultimately led me to a relationship with God that I could never be more grateful for. I would be completely lost in this world without recovery. It has taught me how to live, it has taught me how to love people, and it has taught me how to love myself.” -Connie K.
“Recovery means being better than I was.” -Caleb K.