Recovery is a voluntary, positive focus and growth toward a contented, productive life away from the addiction lifestyle. The term addiction lifestyle implies that addiction has a culture of its own—it has its own set of rules, customs, and values. Recovery also has a culture of its own with its own distinct characteristics. Because no one is chaining us to a recovery lifestyle, the option to quit is a matter of self-will. We can decide whether we want to stay in recovery or whether we want to return to the culture of addiction.
In any voluntary program, we have a choice to participate and are free to determine the extent and intensity of our participation. Abstinence may seem more possible with a gun to our head, but there is no gun in recovery. We must change ourselves.
If there were a metaphoric “gun” in recovery, it would be the thought of a relapse. Relapse is more than a loss of recovery, beliefs, and habits. Relapse is a biochemical event. When the brain perceives the chemical changes of stress, it directs us to engage in soothing behaviors, behaviors that will increase our levels of dopamine. Our brain is just doing its job—relieving our stress to achieve a state of homeostasis. Therefore, we must make an extra effort to voluntarily engage in our own recovery, knowing how easy it is for our body to slip back into dangerous behaviors.