When we talk about overcoming addiction, successful recovery is often determined by abstinence or sobriety. That is, you’ve only beaten your addiction to the extent that you haven’t used, drank, or acted out.
This idea is so common in our culture that in 12-step circles, we measure the strength of one’s recovery in terms of “clean time,” or that period of time that’s elapsed since your last acted, used, or drank. Hang around recovery treatment centers long enough and you’re bound to hear things like, “He’s got 12 years,” or “I just got my 90 days.”
But here’s the thing: Overcoming addiction has nothing to do with how long you haven’t engaged in your addiction.
So what’s the real story with beating addiction?