Many addicts and alcoholics have a natural instinct to survive on self-will and self- determination. However, that same strength and drive to survive only served their addictions. Recovering addicts and alcoholics remain clean and sober by accepting the fact that although they are determined, they also have a disease.

The people in recovery who make it and attain peace of mind and freedom from chemical dependency quickly realize that recovery is only possible with the help and support of others who have succeeded before them. Relying on self-will, unfortunately, does not help addicts and alcoholics let go of their substance abuse.

Self-reliance in Recovery

Overcoming Addiction will Take Strength and Mental Power

Self-reliance is what addicts and alcoholics practice to have things their ‘way.’ The addict and alcoholic ‘way’ does not point towards recovery; it only points towards using and drinking. Many individuals in early recovery often have the very best intentions and hope that they can and will remain clean and sober. Willingness is absolutely essential for anyone who desires freedom from their addiction. Having the willingness to do what others ask, even when it is difficult to accept or understand, is how the emotional and mental growth necessary for recovery occurs on the road to achieving full serenity.

You Must Understand Self-Reliance or You May Relapse

Understanding exactly what self-reliance is in terms of recovery can be confusing. Individuals who want to get sober are, in fact, initiating their recovery. However, self-reliance can take over and send a person back to the drug dealers house or bar. Let’s take two personality types and review where their self-reliance caused them to relapse. Let’s first look at a woman named Barbara.

Barbara went to a 90-day program for her alcoholism and addiction to prescription pain medication. She had been arrested three times and lost her job. She hit bottom and wanted to end her drug use. Barbara was dedicated to her recovery. After treatment, she got a sponsor and went to meetings. One day Barbara was driving home and suddenly felt compelled to drink. She went home and did not drink but decided she would take her mind off her feelings and watch a movie. Her thoughts about alcohol continued, and Barbara did not tell her sponsor, she thought her thoughts about alcohol would tell her sponsor she needed help.

After one week of these thoughts, Barbara relapsed. The point where Barbara was self-reliant and when she took matters into her own hands was when she thought she could handle her thoughts about alcohol on her own. On that very first day and moment she had thoughts about alcohol if she had not been relying on herself to fix herself, she would have, called her sponsor. Instead, she took the hard way which is the ‘I will fix it myself way.’ There is no addict or alcoholic who can get clean and sober and remain in recovery without help and reliance on others.

Examples of Relf-Reliance in Recovery

Another example of self-reliance and how it doesn’t work is about Ramon. Ramon went to outpatient rehab for six months. He had also been in recovery before but only remained clean and sober for ten months. Ramon would say it was a relationship that caused him to relapse. Ramon like Barbara, also finished his program and worked with a sponsor and went to meetings. He was also working 9 to 5 throughout the week. One day Ramon got a call from his work saying that he was under review. Ramon panicked and was very afraid that he would get fired. So, he called his sponsor and went to a meeting. However, after the meeting, Ramon could not stop thinking about what might happen.

Ramon sat awake all night in his head, playing the various situations that could happen at work over and over in his mind. His sponsor had told him if he could not stop thinking and worrying about his job to reach out and offer help to another addict. Instead, Ramon thought he could find a way to solve his dilemma at work.

The next day Ramon was so stressed out he called his job and told them that he was quitting. His job did not understand why he was quitting, and Ramon could only express that he was under a lot of stress. Fortunately, Ramon did not relapse. But he sat in his head dwelling and spinning his worries for so long he may not have acted out and relapsed, but he quit his job. Ramon’s sponsor asked him why you didn’t offer to help someone else. Ramon said that he didn’t see how that would help his situation at work.

What Ramon failed to recognize is that his self-reliance manifested in the form of mental prison. He was stuck in his mind worrying only about himself. Had Ramon stopped for one minute to help someone else, his mind would have found relief from the torment of his thoughts about his job.

The idea of self-reliance may sound powerful and invigorating. However, for recovering addicts and alcoholics, our minds and emotions often do not accurately handle situations. To begin letting go of relying on “self” to manage your recovery, all addicts and alcoholics must go to meetings, get a sponsor, work the 12 steps program or attend a drug counseling program. Most importantly, it’s crucial to follow the advice and suggestions others in recovery give. By following what other successful recovering addicts alcoholics have done, a newly recovering person is letting go of their old self-reliant persona and getting to know a new version of themselves that is sober, humble, with peace of mind, and a willingness change.


  • Is Self-Reliance in Recovery Possible?

Published on: 2019-09-16
Updated on: 2024-04-18