“What is Recovery?” according to Stephanie Brown (Part 4)

P1010092In my last blog focusing on Stephanie Brown’s book A Place Called Self, I described two myths about recovery. In this blog, we look at the second myth: dependence is bad and recovery means you are no longer dependent.

‘… many women think recovery is moving from dependence to self-sufficiency. But there is no such thing as total self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency is a partial condition.’

So what does Stephanie mean by this? She is emphasising that all of us are dependent in some way or other. We need other other people on whom we can depend. ‘No man (or woman) is an island.’

‘At the most basic level, it takes two to make a baby. It takes even more to form a community that can clothe and feed itself and keep everyone warm and safe. We also need others on an emotional level. We do not outgrow our need to nurture, to be held and understood. Dependence is not a failure, but a normal, healthy part of being human. This is the kind of dependence a woman experiences in recovery.’

In addiction to drugs and alcohol, dependence is to a substance and is linked to a series of unhealthy thinking patterns and actions. There is no balance in this dependence, in that the person may be totally focused on thinking about, acquiring and using the substance(s).

In long-term recovery, dependence is about depending on a variety of things in our environment that help us lead happy, healthy and productive lives. There is a lot more balance in this form of dependence.

In short-term recovery, a person may shift their dependence from a substance to something like a group of people, such as AA, who help them to understand how to overcome their problems and find recovery. This dependence may start off being unbalanced, but it is healthy. Over time, this dependence becomes more balanced. More of that in a later blog.