Here we go again… Recently I offered my personal thoughts on the ongoing and almost constant debate about which method of recovery is the best. The resulting assumptions if or when arrived at, are mostly both personal and relative to the individual espousing them (see ‘The Malignancy of 12v4 Bickering‘). I followed that up with some additional thoughts around the concept of addiction as a ‘disease‘ both of which (in my opinion), are presenting substantial negative impacts for people’s overall successes on their road to recovery.
Being involved with the subject daily (in a professional context), I’m party to many forums of debate on the subject, some here at home in the UK and several in the USA but both of which follow similar formats and reasoning. For those who aren’t already aware I’ll show my hand, as the National Coordinator for UK SMART Recovery, many would say that my opinion would tend to present a biased slant. You can make that assumption, as is your right but you would also be incorrect.
I am wholly accepting of the fact; whichever ‘brand’ of recovery works for any individual is the right one for them to choose. I have absolutely no interest in debate around which is ‘best’, just so long as it works and provides a long-term solution to aid anyone’s addiction issues. Yes, I have a personal opinion about the benefits of one over the other however; that is based solely upon personal experience and a comprehensive working knowledge.
I will not be drawn into the “my brand is better than your brand” arguments that tend to prevail. Neither would I vehemently denounce or comment adversely, purporting to be an ‘expert’ on something I have only limited knowledge of. It’s sad that many of these often heated arguments are mostly campaigns based upon little more than self-promotion. Driven by business development considerations and/or personal credibility enhancement desires, perhaps even more so in the USA than elsewhere.
“Having an optimistic rather than a pessimistic view of themselves and their future is highly preferable, as long as people do not take this view to overoptimistic extremes.” Albert Ellis, Ph.D.
Possessing optimism for the resulting success of your intentions is great but only remains to be a good thing until you actually start to believe… “my way or no way José!” Additionally and irrespective of the secular or religious connotations of either recovery pathway; decades of opinion (and conflict) around which religion you should follow has rarely resulted in anything other than a great deal of emotional or physical pain and death. The thought that continually perpetuating this debate will result in any more positive outcomes is mostly futile. In simplistic terms, the debate is little more than self-promotion and unfortunately which tends to be an inherent social trait on both sides of the Atlantic these days.
I’m not even sure about some of the suggestions that SMART and 12-Steps can/should work (effectively) with each other, at least not in a combined process running in parallel and continuously throughout the recovery journey. There is also a cultural component that is unlikely to be resolved through debate or logic. Yes, there may be many examples of those who have achieved success by dipping in and out of the two however; as the methods/ethos of the two are so diagonally opposed to each other, that is often an exception rather than a rule of thumb.
Those who hold a genuine desire to support the wellbeing of others, as opposed to themselves (morally, financially or otherwise), have to work towards a reduction of conflict. To peacefully coexist, for the benefit of those we aim to support, we must practice acceptance and tolerance of the opposing camp.
The chosen road has to be an ‘informed’ decision made by the individual traveller, as opposed to being directed by any external interested parties. Those doing the pushing have often and clearly got ulterior motives or hidden agenda. At least over and above the needs/desires of the individual seeking a pathway to recovery. The ultimate aim of anyone involved in the delivery of mutual-aid support for addictions has to be; all individuals seeking recovery must be afforded the opportunity to make their own choice. Sadly this is a luxury not always available for too many.
Decisions based upon science-based information/opinion/experience, totally free from any religious dogma or similar underpinnings must be the way forward. Once you have discovered yourself and what you want… Go Discover Your Own Power of Choice!