Let’s talk hoops. Let’s imagine you are a really good basketball player (heck, maybe you are a really good basketball player) and like to play the game.
You might have the full collection of skills. You are a good ball handler, a good passer, can hit the three pointers but also shoot from midrange and from the post, grab rebounds, and play tight defensive. You are a leader on your team, and you make everyone around you even better.
Maybe you have just one hole in your game. Maybe you can’t shoot free throws to save your life.
It might seem like this gap in your skills is not that big of a deal. You are doing everything else with great effectiveness. Surely you can let other players on your team worry about the free throws.
Except that isn’t how the game works, right? If you are a top-notch player, you are going to have the ball a lot—and you are going to get a lot of attention from the defense. That means you are likely to get fouled a lot, which in turn means you are going to find yourself shooting free throws. And some of those free throws may be in crucial situations. In fact, a case can be made that failing to take advantage of free throw opportunities is always significant. Miss a lot of free throws—early in the game, late in the game, whenever—and you can cost your team a victory.
Let’s Talk Recovery
Now let’s think about your recovery from a substance use disorder. Maybe it is going really, really well. You are attending recovery meetings and meeting with your sponsor. You have ended toxic relationships and built up positive connections with friends and family. You are eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep and exercise, and practicing mindfulness.
Maybe you have just one hole in your recovery game. Maybe you have developed a substitute addiction. Maybe you find yourself hanging out at a place where you used to drink or score drugs. Maybe you don’t have a plan for addressing cravings when they are particularly strong.
It might seem like this gap in your approach to recovery is not that big of a deal. Except that isn’t how recovery works, right? The possibility of relapse is always present, so taking a lax approach to any part of your recovery journey can quickly lead to real problems—even if everything else seems to be going well.
You Gotta Get in the (Metaphorical) Gym
If you knew that your poor free throw shooting was costing your team games, you would know just what to do. You would get yourself to the gym and practice free throw after free throw. You might talk to your coach or another member of the team to see if they can spot what you might be doing wrong in terms of your approach. You would work and work to bring this particular aspect of the game up to the level of your other skills. It might take some time, but you would start to see improvement once you turn your attention to this specific part of the game.
Similarly, if you know there is an aspect of your approach to recovery that is not as strong or effective as other parts of your overall routine, you need to get into the metaphorical gym and do the work to improve. That might involve being more intentional with your decisions and behaviors. It might involve talking with your sponsor about things they might be noticing about how your recovery is going. It might involve finding new strategies to address new or ongoing challenges. It might take some time, but you can shore up your recovery by making necessary adjustments to protect your sobriety.
Grab Your Spot with Team Sobriety
When you are struggling with a substance use disorder, you are, in effect, riding the bench in the game of life. To get back on the floor and make a difference, you need to reclaim your sobriety. And like basketball, getting sober is a team sport. It is extremely difficult to win if you are trying to do it all on your own.
At Bel Aire Recovery Center in Kansas, we are wholly committed to the work of helping people get—and stay—sober. We will coach you through medically supervised detoxification, our robust rehabilitation program, and beyond with our continuum of care.
If you are ready to reclaim your starring role in the game of your own life, we are ready to help.