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Social Acceptability vs. Recovery

Everyone has ups and downs. For alcoholics and addicts, these ups and downs are taken to the extreme, in the worst cases leading to manias or deep, deep depressions. It’s not uncommon for newly sober people to look, well, a little rough. In our addictions we pick our faces, lose large amounts of weight, and ignore basic hygienic practices like showering and brushing teeth. But we do recover. Usually in short time, we’re looking and feeling good again, thanks to a few square meals, a clean razor, and a new pair of pants that we haven’t burned holes into. We are, within just a few months of being sober, socially acceptable.

While this is the normal course, it can also be a pitfall as “you trudge the road of happy destiny.” Social acceptability does not equal recovery. Or in English, looking good on the outside does not mean you are doing well on the inside. Recovery means many things to many people, but my favorite definition comes from The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Commission: “A process of change through which individuals improve health and wellness, live self-directed lives and strive to reach their full potential.” The key word here is “strive.” We never reach our full potential, which means if we’re truly in recovery, we are always working toward being better, not just looking better.

What are you working toward today?