Why do I believe in recovery program? Families and friends are spending thousands upon thousands of dollars to send their loved one away to a recovery program. Recovering addicts are spending thousands of hours away from the familiarity of home and family and friends. All this with no guarantees that they’ll be better off for all the time and money spent at a recovery program in Malibu than they would have been incarcerated or in a public institution for delinquents.
And you know and I know there’s no magic at any recovery program. The rooms are plain old bricks and mortar. Pretty much the same group meeting rooms that you’ll find anywhere. The counselors? We don’t have any magic either. They’re neither pillars of virtue or in possession of some deep dark wisdom. So, why are would anyone go to a recovery program ?
I believe, when it comes to inpatient recovery, we make a promise to the recovering addict to help them practice a very different language in recovery than the language we have learned out in the so called “real” world.
I believe that learning how to become a someone who’s character is accentuated by virtues like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control is very much like learning a new language. At first it doesn’t make any sense at all. At times it’s frustrating and discouraging. But the more we help people in recovery practice this very different language, the more we help them read the poems, reflect on their history, take care of their bodies, use their minds, access their hearts, get in touch with their consciousness and the “better angels of their nature, express their creativity the more that language becomes an integral part of what we are, what they are, in our way of thinking, in our way of feeling.
And as is true with any other language, the more you think in that language–the more natural, the more second nature it seems to become.
In his book,” Poetry Language and Thought”, the philosopher, Martin Heidegger, has what at first may seem like a rather esoteric and abstract expression. He says that “Language is the house of being.” In other words, what you are as a human being, where you reside spiritually and emotionally is dependent on the words and the language with which you think.
As I say this may sound like a rather esoteric expression, but I think we need this perspective on why we embrace intensive inpatient recovery programs. Without this perspective, all the frenzy of and expense of a recovery program is, well, ridiculous.
Listen to the beauty of this very different language…
“One day at a time.”
“Hope is a thing with wings.”
“Keep it simple.”
“It’s none of my business what other people think of me.”
“No man is an island entire unto himself.”
“The wind blows where it wills and where it goes nobody knows.”
“God loves you like you’re the only person on earth.”
“Be kind to yourself.”
“Easy does it.”
“Take your own inventory.”
“Progress not perfection.”
“Attitude of gratitude.”
“Pain is the touchstone of spiritual growth.”
“How do you choose to love the universe.“
“There’s no such thing as coincidences.”
“It’s not what I know but what I do.”
And so on.
Recovery professionals want our clients to learn this language at the very beginning of their recovery , so that throughout their lives, as they come face to face with absurdity and cruelty and tragedy, they’ll always have a transcendental perspective; a perspective that will strengthen weak knees. They’ll remember the language of their recovery which they practiced over and over again because their recovery program surrounded them with a spirit of inspiration and the aspiration to see the world be a more just and peaceful place and themselves worthy of the love that is and was and will always be.
Reverend Charles F. Harper
Author: Amazing Grief ! A Healing Guide for Parents of Young Addicts
Co-Founder/ Spiritual Director
Whole Soul Recovery Community
Faith Counseling for Teens and Families in Crisis
Author of Amazing Grief