Life is Better Sober

Today’s blog is a guest post from Bryce Thomas and the Recovery folks at Renaissance Ranch, a drug and alcohol addiction recovery center located in Bluffdale, Utah. They specialize in gospel centered 12 step recovery programs for both men and women.

Addiction can be a devastating trial for both an addict and the family of an addict. I recently had the opportunity to meet with H.R. Brown, founder of Renaissance Ranch and recovering addict. If you’re looking to escape your addiction, or if a loved one is experiencing addiction, his message is for you: there is hope. H.R. wanted every addict to know:

Life in addiction won’t get any better
“It’s only going to get worse.” That is, your life in addiction, according to H.R. If you stay underground and hope to outlast your addiction, your life is not going to get better. And ultimately, life in addiction can be dangerous and deadly. While many people manage to overcome addiction without professional help, it takes bringing their problem into the light to really make any change. As a man who’s been clean for awhile, H.R. knows the power of bringing your addiction forward. “Get above ground!” he urged, “Life is better sober.”

You’re not bad, you’re sick
When he first entered recovery, the most helpful thing for H.R., early on, was learning more about his addiction. “There was something physically, biologically, and neurologically different in what I was doing,” he told me. Learning that his addiction was a compilation of issues took the stigma away and helped H.R. recover.

Most professionals would agree with H.R. Addiction is a multifaceted disease, involving genetics, environmental, psychological, emotional, and spiritual needs. This means that while your own decisions and actions certainly do have something to do with your addiction, your surroundings and genetics also play a role. Because of your environment, you may never have learned the appropriate skills to cope with stress and turned to alcohol and drug use instead. Or, because of genetics, it may be more harrowing for your body to detox than it is for another’s body. All of these play a part in a person’s addiction, but most importantly, H.R. would like every person struggling with addiction to know, “You’re not a bad person, you’re a sick person.”

It’s up to you
The professionals you encounter, like your friends and family, can hold your hand to guide you, but they can’t force you through the steps of addiction recovery. It’s up to you to decide to make the necessary changes. But if there’s anything H.R. has learned from his own recovery and watching the recovery of others, it’s that people can do more than they think they can. “It’s a privilege to be here [at Renaissance Ranch], not because of me or the staff, but because of the men who have come through.” When you’re willing to make changes in your life, aligned with God’s will, there’s no telling what you’re capable of.

Recovery is hard
Recovery is not an easy process. That much was made clear to me. The recovery process isn’t just about detoxing. In fact, that’s usually over in the first week or so. The next six months to a year are dedicated to rooting out addictive behavior, which often means working through painful emotional barriers.

In fact, to symbolize the “boot camp” that is addiction recovery, every man who enters Renaissance Ranch gets a dog tag at the beginning and a dog tag when he graduates. They have even donned themselves “The Band of Brothers.” The effect is two-fold. When you earn those dog tags, you know you’ve earned them. And when you see another man with those dog tags, you know he’s been through the same thing.

It’s worth it
Undoubtedly, this is the clearest message I got from my encounter with H.R. and the other men I spoke with at Renaissance Ranch. Life really is better sober. And while the recovery process is difficult, being more involved with your family, being completely independent, and being freed from the baggage that led you to use in the first place make all the difficult parts more than worth it.

If you’re currently struggling with addiction, or if you have a friend or loved one struggling, get help. Contact your local addiction recovery center to talk to a professional. There is hope, and it is worth it.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.