Dr. Roger P. Watts is a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor who practices as a Chemical Dependency Professional II at a world-renowned treatment facility in ...Read More
It’s safe to say that most alcoholics and drug addicts did not manufacture or otherwise produce their drugs of choice. Most people who have become addicted to chemical poisons like alcohol and other drugs got these through some person, their “connection,” who was holding their drug and offered it for sale. Even if it is a cannabis grower, who had to start from someone that gave or sold them the seeds to grow the drug, or an alcoholic, who used a bartender to sell alcohol to them, they had to have a connection. Most likely, a person had more than one connection to the drug source just to play it safe so they were never out of their drug of choice.
The fact of the matter is that no person who has become addicted started out to become that way. They most often knew literally nothing about the alcohol or drug they were exposed to – typically at a young age – and had to learn from some connection how to procure and even use the drugs they took. Becoming an addict or alcoholic is somewhat of a learned behavior in addition to a physiological disease, and people learned from their connection.
The parallel for recovery is amazingly strong. Most people who are actively addicted to alcohol or other drugs have a very poor sense of what it takes to find recovery from that addiction. In fact, while rumors persist among those fellow active users about what it takes to be in recovery, in fact, this is the blind literally leading the blind about recovery and how to achieve it. Few people know or understand the recovery process, despite the chance that they may have been abstinent at one point, and they need to learn about how to maintain abstinence and move into the world of recovery.
In order to make this move to recovery, alcoholics and addicts need a new connection. They literally need to have someone to whom they can go to “procure” their sobriety. In the language of the street, where once they needed to find someone from whom they could “cop their drug”, these people need someone from the recovering community from whom they can “cop some recovery.” And, in recovery, like in active addiction, they frequently need more than one person to whom they can go to get that sobriety.
In Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) there is a built-in system of providing newcomers with a new connection. It’s called the sponsorship system. Here, just like in the active addiction world, there is a person to whom a newly recovering person can go to procure some recovery. Usually this sponsor is someone who is “holding” the same type of recovery that the newcomer wants…higher-level spirituality, serenity, peace of mind, hard-core instruction in maintaining abstinence, or detailed instruction on how to behave. The sponsor is also the connecting link to the world of recovery that is made up of other people in recovery, meetings where people go to congregate and learning about recovery, and literature that can be read to fortify commitment to recovery.
There are other people that newly recovering people also use as connections outside of AA. Priests, ministers, or rabbis often serve as connections to recovery by providing religious and spiritual refuge for a recovering person. Churches, temples, and mosques often provide the social setting where people who are offering recovery congregate and the newcomer can associate with people there to form new relationships and enjoy fellowship.
Regardless of the source, the newly recovering person usually needs to realize that they know very little about the recovery process, and there are people in the world who do. Just like in the days of their active use where they needed to seek out expert help in order to know what and how to use alcohol or other drugs, so too does that person in early recovery need to reach out to others to find the ways and means to remain clean and sober. Without that process, there is little chance that the newly recovering person can invent a system that works any better than the ones already widely used to maintain that recovery.