Clean Living with Emily

By: Emily Guarnotta

Emily Guarnotta holds a Psy.D. Her most recent work was her dissertation, “A Comparison of Abstinence and Perceived Self-efficacy for Individuals Attending SMART Recovery and Alcoholics Anonymous.”

Speaking Out to Heal Within

(not rated)

Sep 03, 2015

Addiction is both pervasive and insidious, often resulting in users isolating and hiding their thoughts, feelings, and negative behaviors from the world. Active users live their lives in a constant state of fight-or-flight, always prepared to fight for the drug and ready to flee from any situation that could result in being discovered. As one progresses in recovery, ideally life shifts from a state of fear to a state of peace and openness. No longer does it revolve around hiding, but instead becomes about acceptance. Many people in recovery become mesmerized by the fact that they can openly share their stories with others in recovery without feeling judged, ridiculed, or shamed.

This month marks the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s 26th annual national recovery month, where the focus is on increasing awareness, providing education, and celebrating successes. It reminds us that despite the alarming statistics, people in fact do recover and go on to live healthy, happy, and wonderful lives. This year’s theme is Visible, Vocal and Valuable, which prompts former users to share their own stories of hope with the world.

Research studies have found that using your voice to share stories with others can be a powerful way to cope with our negative emotions, especially in early recovery. For decades 12 step groups and other recovery meetings, including SMART Recovery and Women for Sobriety, have provided people with an opportunity to share their stories with others who have similar struggles. The act of sharing your story is a form of catharsis, or a release, that allows you to make sense of your past experiences, thoughts, and feelings, with the goal being to arrive at a point of acceptance. The past will never change and the future is unknown, much like a blank canvas. Sharing your story in the present moment reminds you and others how you arrived at this point in time, and gives a glimpse of what might possibly unfold in the future given the knowledge that the past has provided you with.

We all differ in our level of comfort with sharing our stories. Some of us are more extroverted and may experience a surge of energy and excitement after we share to a large group of strangers. Others, like myself, are more introverted and prefer to share in a smaller group or when there is a sense of safety and trustworthiness in the listeners. The platform that you choose to share matters less than how you feel while doing it. Finding your own voice and level of comfort is the ideal stage to share the beautiful story of your journey during this national recovery month.


More Voices of Recovery

You’re Not Crazy (It’s Just the Disease)       

A Vet Rocks to Recovery

The Emotional Impact of Alcoholism



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