Opinion Extra

Francis: Recovery is an everyday process

Adam Goldstein, the celebrity disc jockey better known as DJ AM, who gained notoriety in the Midlands after he survived a plane crash last year at Columbia Metropolitan Airport, spoke openly of his past drug addiction. He was even planning to host a reality show set to premiere this fall called "Gone Too Far," in which teenage addicts would confront their addiction and begin the process of recovery.

So when he was found dead in August in his New York apartment, with a crack pipe and prescription drugs nearby, most people assumed he died of a drug overdose - and that his treatment and recovery were a complete failure.

Worse, many people tally that up as just more evidence that recovery doesn't work or that the addict is weak.

However, it's just the opposite.

In the case of DJ AM, he managed to live clean and sober for many years. If the assumptions are true, for reasons that we may not ever know, he was unable to manage his disease in that moment.

On a larger scale, those of us who treat substance abuse know that individuals in recovery are not weak because they are addicted; rather, they are strong because they are in recovery.

Recovery is not easy. Recovery is worked daily. There is no break from it.

Addiction is a chronic disease. The nature of many diseases is that they may not be curable, but can be managed through lifestyle choices and conscientious decisions each day. In this case, that decision is to not drink or take drugs.

Recovery may begin in treatment, but it is a difficult process that continues daily and requires a great deal of work and support. The person in recovery needs the support of everyone in his or her life - family members, churches, businesses and the community as a whole. People are not magically "cured" of their addiction the day they walk out of treatment. They are simply beginning a day-by-day process of making better, healthier choices.

Those in recovery are constantly confronted by challenges. Recovery requires a commitment not only from those in recovery but from all those who surround them, encourage them to make healthy choices.

Recovering alcoholics and addicts find support through groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, Celebrate Recovery and other support systems where those who best understand their struggles provide the accountability and encouragement needed to take life day by day.

To all those in recovery and to all those who love them, be proud of your recovery. Don't be discouraged. There will be challenges and obstacles nearly every day. We must celebrate those who are winning the battle every day, and continue to encourage them to stay on the path to recovery.