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“Woke” Recovery

What is woke recovery? Why do I sound like Barbara Walters when I say it?

Being “woke” in recovery or “Woke Recovery”? In general, in our society today being woke means “being aware… knowing what’s going on in the community, we’ve opened our eyes to things, to people, to what’s really going on instead of what we’ve been told.”

In recovery, it usually defines people after they’ve had a spiritual awakening. Some people in recovery define it as when you see that lightbulb moment in a guy, when he puts two and two together and really believes he’s an alcoholic or an addict. For others, it’s when you’ve been sober awhile (said to be five years) and your head finally pops out of your ass. In can also mean that you are aware of the societal issues surrounding recovery and treatment.

The “Spiritual Awakening” Woke

Let’s take the obvious one first. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

What’s a spiritual awakening? The book tells us there are as many definitions of it as there are people who’ve had them. As he has now become able to do, feel, and believe that which he could not do before on his unaided strength and resources alone. He has been granted a gift which amounts to a new state of consciousness and being.

When people describe their spiritual experience to me, it often sounds like a Pentecostal church service or some sort of seizure or perhaps electroshock therapy (my opinion). If you find some sort of peace, or comfort, or joy, or relief of any kind while doing the steps, I believe that’s a spiritual awakening. Congratulations, you are recovery woke.

The “Lightbulb Moment” Woke

It could be when you say enough is enough. Or when you hit the wall, when you hit rock bottom and start digging your way out. It’s any moment of sudden inspiration, revelation, or recognition. For some, it’s when you realize the answers to: how do you get and stay sober were within you all the time. The answer lies in you taking action and you helping others. For me it was driving home from a particularly great meeting at my home group and seeing a beautiful Florida winter sunset. It was so beautiful, cars were pulling off the road with me. I realized I was going to be ok, and the world was ok with me.

Industry-Level Woke

The third woke is being aware of the social issues surrounding recovery and the recovery industry. These issues are how society shames and stigmatizes addicts and alcoholics, people in recovery, sober housing, issues with unethical treatment providers, the list goes on. Usually, all the things recovery advocates talk about— if they’re not fighting with each other on Facebook over who is more ethical.

My personal definition of recovery “woke” is how we deal with recovery in our society. Why we demonize alcoholics and addicts, then as they seek recovery in treatment and sober living, we treat these people like addiction is contagious, we treat them like vermin, less than, morally bankrupt, like if they’re sober and relapse they’ll be going on a multi-state killing spree.

If you’ve ever worked in treatment and taken a call from an irate neighbor of a halfway house, you know what I’m talking about. These neighbors think all sober living residents are armed felons with contagious MRSA who are about to kill their dog and eat their baby while streaming the whole thing on Twitch.

If you’ve been sober, done the work, helped others and now you’re ready to advocate in recovery, please make us look good.
A) Never say you’re saving lives; you aren’t; they save themselves.
B) Never post pictures of people you’ve helped or are helping, you’re exploiting them.
C) Never say you’re a hope dealer. At best you’re a used car salesman.
D) Don’t do a podcast or a Facebook Live show. Nothing you could say is that important.
E) Don’t make memes with beach scenes or landscapes and an inspirational quote. Literally every stock photo of a beach has already been used along with your Rumi quote.

I’m quite sure you’ll never get your recovery advocate certification if you break these laws. (I’m on the certification committee, you don’t have a chance if you do).

The great thing is, help is all around you if you need it. Leave it to the woke to know that we can only help people if they want the help.

Reach Out

If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction, please reach out to us at 877-RECOVER or 877-732-6837. Our addiction specialists will take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Because We Care.

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