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Overdoing Recovery?!

answered 09:35 PM EST, Thu September 12, 2013
anonymous anonymous
Is it possible to be too into recovery? After a certain point is the idea not to move away from everything recovery and start having a normal life? After 3 years the concept of recovery as the primary focus of my brother’s life remains. I am so happy for him but now I want to see him grow a bit and stretch his wings beyond the ‘recovery’ life he’s carved out for himself that’s all about 2 meetings a day and staying with my parents forever. When does recovery become fear? When dopes recovery become laziness? And how do you tell a person that you begged to get into recovery to stop being so into recovery?

Loren Gelberg-Goff Says...

This is a great question because it encompasses so much. Recovery is a wonderful model and lifestyle, but it is not meant to take the place of living one's life. If your brother has determined that this is all he needs in his life, then my guess is, there is something more going on, and counseling sounds like it would be beneficial and needed.  I am very glad to hear that your brother is taking his recovery so seriously, and this message needs to be given to him so that he knows his efforts are validated.

I would go the route of asking your brother what his goals are, what he really wants out of life. If recovery is such a big part of his life, he might be interested in a career as a rehab counselor. Rather than label your brother as lazy, I'd recommend that you look at what benefits he's getting from living at home with your parents... and what benefits they derive from having him live with them. There may be more than one person here who is fearful of moving forward and trusting in your brother's sobriety.

Does your brother (or did he in the past) have aspirations, hopes, dreams, etc and in what ways does he believe that they've been taken from him? This is a common occurrence with recovering addicts and they need guidance and support to reconnect to life outside of recovery while still maintaining their connection to a community that has been supportive, understanding and helpful through challenging times.

What are your parents' expectations of your brother? What are their goals at this point in their lives? It isn't just your brother who needs some help and guidance and support embracing a new life, they do as well, especially since they are all living together.

I would start by encouraging your parents to seek counseling; maybe even to have you participate as well (You don't say if you are living in the house, or have a separate life). If you are also living at home, then yes, please participate in family therapy with your parents and your brother. Start by checking with your insurance company for a family therapist in your area. There are a number of interventions that can be helpful, but the first step is to make sure everyone is on the same page and working together, not pushing your brother. He needs to see that he wants/needs more in his life in order for changes to happen.  As long as you are working harder than he is to change his life, he won't have to. What motivation does your brother have to change?  As long as your parents are supportive of your brother's current arrangement, I don't see what inspiration your brother has to move forward... Yes, there's fear here as well as uncertainty, insecurity, and maybe even inertia. 

I admire your desire to help, and your brother will need your encouragement to move forward, but ultimately, it is his responsibility to take the next steps in his recovery.

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Page last updated Sep 12, 2013

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