Recovery: Will I Choose “Clown College” or Continuing Ed?

When I talk about my “program of recovery” I am talking about the tools that I use on a regular basis to remind me that I am in recovery and to make sobriety possible for me.

My program of recovery includes (but is not limited to):

  • Keeping my 24-hour token in my wallet so that every time I open my wallet, I am reminded that I need to stay sober today.
  • Going to my recovery meetings every week (I go to the same two meetings every single week (barring illness, requirement, or emergency).
  • Meditation (I am a proponent of Mindfulness Meditation).
  • Prayer
  • Church (I go every Sunday at a minimum)
  • Talking with my sponsor every week and whenever I am feeling hungry, angry, lonely, triggered, or tired (HALTT).
  • Practicing rigorous honesty in all of my affairs
  • Reading recovery materials, academic research on addiction, and/or self-help books on a regular basis
  • A long list of substitution behaviors for when I am triggered (everything from exercise, to playing or listening to music, to using my phone list)

I don’t look at recovery as I would an academic course or degree plan and I am not trying to graduate and get “fixed.”

My program of recovery is a process of continuing or ongoing education in which I engage daily in the minimum number of activities necessary so that I can remain sane and sober.

As I have said before, I look at the elements of my program like a diabetic may look at insulin (as something that might not always be fun to administer but something that I am very thankful I have).

The Alternative: Clown College

Before I found recovery, as a high-functioning addict, I could often find myself lose up to ten hours a day lost to acting out behaviors.

I cannot count, in retrospect, all of the times that I sat down on my couch with no plans to act out only to find myself in a spiral of acting out behaviors that would last often until four or five in the morning.

Back in those days:

  • I had no idea how to stop (at all).
  • I had no understanding of what was happening to me.
  • I was convinced that nobody would E V E R understand what I was going through and would judge me harshly if I ever told (which shut me off from ever learning information helpful to recovery as well)
  • I had a never ending set of schemes for how to move the deck chairs around on the deck of my personal Titanic. These plans shared one common feature, they always seemed awesome but never came close to working.

Time after time and even when I desperately wanted to do anything but act out, I would find myself ending yet another “acting out trance” at four or five a.m.

After these cycles of acting out, I would still make it to my job on time every day, but once I got to my job, I would find myself exhausted, short-tempered, and often 100% ineffective.

I was living on a never-ending merry-go-round of ineptitude.

I had a Ph.D. level education in recovery from a Clown College.

Continuing Education?

I hear a lot of people talk about being frustrated by their inability to “graduate” or to “get fixed” or to “stay sober”

I also hear a lot of people express resentment at having to continue to attend meetings and to endlessly participate in recovery activities.

But for me, I am just grateful to have a program of recovery.

I have found a structure that unlocks the door to sobriety for me on a daily basis. I still have to be willing to use the tools and at any minute I could relapse (thank God I have been sober for over 6.5 years as of today).

If I add it up, by any metric or measure, the amount of time I spend every day doing recovery activities never comes close to the hours that my acting out behaviors could consume.

Finding my program of recovery has made it possible to be productive, and happy, and even emotionally intimate (in ways I could never even conceive of before).

To be 100% honest, I enjoy every almost every part of my recovery journey (like many addicts, I can be a bit reluctant to use the phone at times).

And I certainly prefer recovery to the alternative.

I am truly thankful to be enrolled in this never-ending program of continuing education since the alternative, for me, was a never-ending cycle of depression, shame, and social dislocation.

In other words, finding my program of recovery made so many positive changes in my life that I have never had the desire to return to Clown College.


Writing Your Own Best Story: Addiction & Living Hope by Joshua Hoe is available as an eBook on Amazon for only $2.99

5 Stars “Intimate and insightful view into the life and struggles of an addict.”



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