Working with people in early recovery is difficult. Most are still in denial, fear and lacking acceptance of certain realities about their lives. This is especially true of people before they go into treatment. Many people are dishonest, aggressive or outright rude and in the next breath, find themselves crying and begging for help. This is all ok and expected. It’s difficult to sort through these situations because there is no way to tell with certainty what is the disease talking and what is the person talking. Alcoholics and addicts often don’t know the difference either. As providers & fellow people in recovery, we have to take a step back from all of this unmanageability and surrender to the process. This means doing thorough interviews with people before they move in, taking calls as they come in, filling beds as they are available, holding firm to our structure and rules – rather than getting bogged down trying to create the “perfect”, conflict-free environment for someone’s recovery. Getting sober isn’t comfortable and learning new tools isn’t easy.
There is a sense of humility that we bring into our work. A sense of “we don’t know what’s best for you but these are the expectations and suggestions”. No one’s sobriety is within our power to create or control. But we do have some life skills, tools and direction on how to stay sober. If a client has truly surrendered, a few simple rules and suggestions are a welcome relief from the chaos and confusion of active addiction. It’s our job and our privilege to be able to offer that safe, sane structure for someone who really doesn’t have a clue how they are going to make it in the “real world” after a lifetime of chaos. We find that our best work is done when we hold clients accountable to the expectations they signed up for and leave the results up to something greater than ourselves.