September is National Recovery Month, a time set aside to honor and celebrate those in this world who have made the journey into recovery. It is also a time to create a much larger and needed dialogue in our society about addiction and recovery.Having an active addict in your life is probably one of the most excruciatingly painful experiences a person can have. The word powerless cannot even begin to capture the utter devastation, hopelessness and futility one can feel while being in the presence of an active addict. It is gut-wrenching and heart-breaking to watch someone you care about make all the wrong decisions.
Almost every time I travel and speak with my new book, Blackout Girl: Growing Up and Drying Out in America, inevitably the question comes up “How can I help an active addict?” I see the desperation in the eyes of so many hurting individuals as they ask this question with genuine intent to help someone. It is always the question I dread, because the answer isn’t one anyone really wants to hear.
After all, most of us want to fix people, we want to be the heroes and sweep in and save people from themselves. I have been there and done that in my early sobriety, thinking I could force feed my new found life to my brothers and friends who were still in their active addictions. It didn’t work and only left me in dangerous places that could have threatened my sobriety.
There truly isn’t much a person can do and in fact sometimes people try and do too much and it just winds up leaving them feeling bitter, hurt and resentful because there well-intended actions didn’t result in getting the person clean or sober.
The disease is a manipulative puzzle and one that is not easily solved. The process of obtaining and maintaining sobriety is a deeply personal one and while other people can sometimes have a positive influence on the decision to get clean and sober, it is really a one person job.
The advice I give is simply this…be a seed planter for that person.
What is a seed planter?
A seed planter is a person who takes the time to reach out to an active addict. That can be done by giving them resources; such as literature, meeting lists, referrals for treatment facilities etc. or just by being an open mind and ear to listen too without judgment. A seed planter is also someone who leads by example, by living their lives clean and sober and not compromising that life for an active addict.
A seed planter is someone who is unconditionally loving and supportive but not enabling in any way. A seed planter is someone the addict will remember, even though they may not take your words and put them into action at that given time, they will remember you! You will have planted a seed in their brains and hearts that they will remember and that they may utilize at some point down the road.
A seed planter is just that, a seed planter; you plant the seed of hope, the seed of recovery, and the seed of life through your words and actions; then comes the hardest part.
After you plant the seed, you must stand back and pray and hope the seed grows and flourishes on its own. You cannot make it grow. You can not stand over it daily and will it to grow. It will either happen or it won’t
Not every seed will eventually find its way out of the dark soil and into the light of becoming a plant. Unfortunately not every addict and alcoholic will find recovery. Over a half of million women, men and children suffer at the hands of this disease every year.
You do your part, plant the seed and then let go and let seed to find its way.
Parts of this blog have been posted on The Second Road.org and My Space Featured Authors Blog