Anchor Points in Addiction Recovery

Addiction can be a daunting thing to admit to ourselves, let alone decide to change. Whether it is a process addiction (i.e. food, sex, gambling, gaming), or a substance addiction (i.e. drugs or alcohol), when something has that much power and control in our lives it can be all encompassing and destructive both internally and externally.

Sometimes that looks dramatic–our relationships have fallen apart, we’ve lost a job, maybe our finances are in disarray. But sometimes, addiction is wreaking havoc in much more subtle ways–or subtle to us, because it has become normal.

We tell ourselves we could quit the behavior at any moment, we just don’t want to right now. It’s not that bad. So instead of asking ourselves “is it bad enough to get help?,” we may need to ask, “is this good enough to stay the same?”.

When we admit our addiction is taking up too much space, power, or control in our lives and is something we’d like to change, the next question may be “Can I even do this?? And if I could…how?!”

Doing the work of healing is a less linear process than many would like. It’s more comfortable to check a box and know that “if I do these 3 things for the next 6-12 weeks, I’ll be a brand new person”. There are often some more structured, tangible pieces that are helpful in recovery from addiction, but to really heal, the work is a bit more ambiguous, tailored to your individual story.

Any time we walk into something that is more ambiguous, or when we don’t know exactly where we’re going, we want to have some anchor points, things we can come back to. 

In her book We Are the Luckiest: The Surprising Magic of a Sober Life, Laura McKowen begins with a list of 9 things to remember that she needed to hear for herself on her journey to recovery. If you are considering embarking on this journey yourself, maybe the items on this list can serve as your anchor points as you begin. 

  1. It is not your fault.
  2. It is your responsibility.
  3. It is unfair that this is your thing.
  4. This is your thing.
  5. This will never stop being your thing until you face it.
  6. You cannot do it alone.
  7. Only you can do it.
  8. I love you.
  9. I will never stop reminding you of these things.

Written by: Courtney Hintermeyer