5 Tips for Addiction Recovery from My Epic Dust-Up on Facebook This Week

I got into the most contentious argument online I’ve ever been involved with on Facebook this week. I was sharing with the Facebook world about Conscious Drinking, a group about changing your drinking habit no matter what forms that takes.


That is, however you want to change your drinking, whether it’s being abstinent, moderating your drinking, or making smaller changes toward whatever your goal is, the group can be a place to think about that.


When I shared about this group in an online group of addiction professionals who specialize in working with substance use disorders and behavioral addictions, some folks were outraged. You’d have thought I’d killed a puppy.


Now, I’m not here to name names or “out” the group. Quite the opposite. I valued and respected all of the perspectives that were shared about recovery in the thread. What I do want to do here is to share with you some reflections on what I learned and some of the wisdom from those who offered their support.


Abstinence Isn’t the Only Way

You can choose your goal for your recovery. What do you want your relationship with alcohol or drugs to be? Many want to be completely abstinent. As evidenced by not a few people in the Facebook brew-ha-ha, many addiction professionals see nothing less than abstinence as the answer to addiction.


Others choose to learn or attempt to learn to moderate their use for a variety of reasons. They may still be ambivalent, unsure of what they want. They may be on the road toward abstinence. Or whatever.


The fact is that when people choose their own goals for their recovery, their outcomes tend to be better. They feel in control and that they can reach their goals. 


With sex and porn addiction, however, choosing abstinence is generally recommended. Often, it’s the goal of those in recovery if only because continuing to engage in these sexual behaviors while in a committed relationship may have dire consequences. A devastated, traumatized partner is going to be re-traumatized by continued acting out and isn’t likely to stick around.


Any Positive Change is Progress

When I was drinking, I told myself that I couldn’t drink at all, and that if I had one drink at all, I’d failed. Even when I was drinking less, which I was toward the end, I couldn’t accept this as progress.


As evidenced by not a few people in the Facebook brew-ha-ha, many addiction professionals see nothing less than abstinence and sustained sobriety as the answer to addiction. But addiction doesn’t work this way; slips and relapses happen, and sometimes people resume using. It’s all a natural part of the process of change.


Some People Mature Out of Their Habit or Addiction

One professional in the thread mentioned that about 5% of all those who struggle with addiction age out or mature out of their addiction. That is to say, they spontaneously stop drinking, using or acting out in problematic ways.


In other words, they grow out of it.


This phenomenon happens; in fact, this is “aging out” is a part of my story. Aging or maturing out of an addiction does happen and is definitely something I’ll be writing about in a future post.


You Can Start Before You Stop

Not everyone is ready for complete abstinence or even reducing their drinking or using right away. Whatever your struggles are, you don’t have to be sober to start your recovery. 


So often, those who struggle with alcohol, drugs, pornography or sexual behaviors are ambivalent about stopping. Therapy can be a place to work through the ambivalence so that you can at last make progress toward your goals.


Stay in Your Lane (and Don’t Let Others Get in Yours)

Unfortunately, it’s human nature to judge those who are unlike us and who make different choices. And let me tell you, there was a whole lot of human nature on display in this Facebook group.


When you’ve chosen your goals for your recovery and are working toward achieving them, don’t let anyone tell you you’re not making progress. That you’re doing it wrong because you’re not abstinent. Your journey is your own; don’t let others judge you. So the opposite is also true: Stay in your lane and respect the choices that others have made.


There are many paths to addiction, and there are many paths out. AA. SMART Recovery. Inpatient treatment. Harm reduction. Managed Moderation. Aging out. The list goes on and on. In the end, we’re all in this together. We might as well join hands.

Jeremy Mast

Jeremy is a licensed marriage and family therapist (CA LMFT90961) in private practice in Ventura, California. He helps those struggling with drugs, alcohol, and out-of-control sexual behaviors awaken to new possibilities for their lives. He lives with his wife, son, and cat in beautiful southern California.

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