Gifts of Knowledge That Recovering People Can Bestow: Bill White

‘Recovery Rising is the professional memoirs of William (Bill) L White who, over the span of five decades, evolved through several diverse roles to emerge as the addiction fields preeminent historian and one of its most visionary voices and prolific writers.’

The contains so many pearls of wisdom, and is an essential read for anyone interested in addiction recovery. Here are a few pearls, including a verylarge one. [NB. I have broken up Bill’s longest paragraph to make it easier to read online.]

‘The most obvious gifts of knowledge that recovering people can bestow on our communities are our stories—stories that unveil the experience of addiction, stories that communicate the reality and hope of full recovery, and stories detailing how such recovery can be initiated and sustained. Five ideas about recovery need to be inculcated within communities across America.

  1. Addiction recovery is a reality—it is everywhere.
  2. There are many paths to recovery.
  3. Recovery flourishes in supportive communities.
  4. Recovery is a voluntary process.
  5. Recovering and recovered people are part of the solution; recovery gives back what addiction has taken.

Those alone are worthy gifts, and ones that the new Recovery Advocacy Movement is calling upon recovering people to give to their communities. Larger, more difficult-to-define gifts may exist that could benefit communities across the world. Such gifts are not about how to recover from addiction, but rather what recovery from addiction has taught recovering people about life and how to live it. Recovering people could bestow many gifts on the larger society.

Many recovering people reach a stage in their recovery where addiction is reframed from a curse to a gift-bestowing blessing. Civilians (those not in recovery) who have had close contact with recovery groups have often lamented that is too bad one has to be an addict to reap the benefits of recovery. The endless application of recovery programs to problems other than addiction surely suggests something of value here that far turn sends their original intent.

For years I’ve been asking those in long-term recovery what they most value about their recovery experience. Most surprising is a number who described living a better life, rather than sobriety, as their greatest achievement. Their responses reveal more about how to live than how not to drink or use other drugs.

Collectively, these voices say that, through their close encounters with death (of body or self), they have come to understand both the fleeting transience and preciousness of life, and, as a result, the importance of living every moment as a gift to be cherished and lived to its fullest.

Those confronting terminal illnesses have often shared a similar observation. What makes those in recovery unique is that they constitute what might be called a Lazarus Society or a Phoenix Society of men and women who, in the face of utter personal destruction, have not only survived but have been reborn, often with decades of life to live, to serve, to teach.’