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Recovery from addiction is more then just not using.

Let us compare abstinance versus living in recovery. An average young person, non-substance abuser, applies the lessons they have learned throughout school and during their teen years into young adulthood. They may enter college or the workforce straight out of high school. Prioritizing their budget, earning employment, or attending classes on time are not difficult matters to grasp. Furthermore, bills are likely paid on time, gas is factored into their transportation expenses, as well as prices for textbooks or rent. The average, non-substance dependent young person, enters young adulthood rather responsibly, capable of living independently.

Abstinence is when the average substance-dependent young-person decides to quit using, with or without the help of detox or 30 day treatment. With abstinence there may be little to no life changes, the only factor is that the person is not using mind altering substances. There is a vast difference between living in recovery and abstinence. For this example, we shall use a twenty-four-year-old young man named John. John has decided to aid in caring for his grandfather; after all, he has been “sober” for six months—he is no longer drinking or using substances. John resides with his grandfather and has access to his grandfather’s credit cards. Beginning with purchasing small items from Amazon, to larger items like flat-screen televisions, John is stealing, cheating, and manipulating his fortunate living situation. His grandfather tends to the bills, supports John’s living expenses, and has even given him a vehicle. When John’s grandfather can no longer write checks, John hasn’t a clue of how to pay a bill or write a personal check. Prior fines accumulate, and John gets arrested on succession due to outstanding bench warrants while sober, because he has not taken care of these responsibilities.

Herein lies the difference between abstinence and recovery. For lasting abstinence, certain basic life-skills are needed to be learned; when applied daily the person will be moving themselves into recovery. These skills include promptness and punctuality, basic hygiene, and manners. Young men and women need to be taught that “early, is on-time. On-time is late. And late is unacceptable.” Some have not showered or brushed their teeth daily since childhood. “Please” and “thank you” may seem like a foreign language. In addition to soft-skills are hard-skills; reading, following directions, writing, math, or the use of technology. Once these soft and hard-skills can be met, a person in recovery may then begin to develop a life where they are fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions. In a 12-step fellowship, this is the seventh tradition. Not only may it be applied within the fellowship, but also in daily life.

While thirty-three percent of our lives are spent sleeping, ten percent working, and forty-seven percent cleaning, driving, bathing, or watching television, that results in ten-percent remaining. Living in recovery means making that ten-percent count—or rather what’s left of it. Living in recovery means to carry a purpose in life and attempt to fulfill said purpose. In doing so, principals deemed basic by society are met—making the bed, paying bills early, developing relationships, earning employment, treating others with respect. As these principals are met by the person in recovery, they are move forward in the beginning steps to rebuild, rediscover and recover.