If you are currently in recovery, then you know exactly what I mean when I say that there is a big difference between needing recovery and wanting recovery. Anyone who has a substance use disorder needs recovery. Whether or not they want recovery is a different story.

Recovery is much harder to follow through with when a person chooses to be sober for the sake of other people. Sobriety is much more difficult to stick to when the choice to do so is influenced by loved ones. Ultimately, anyone who is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction must come to the conclusion that they have a problem on their own. It’s only when they are finally able to admit this reality that their sobriety becomes less about needing recovery, and more about wanting it.

You Can’t Save Anyone But Yourself

Those who have or are currently watching a loved one battle the throes of addiction know all too well that attempts to get them to recover are very rarely greeted with open arms and long-term results. This is because at the end of the day, recovery must stem from a desire within the person who is struggling,

It is extremely challenging to watch someone you care about choose a path in life that is, slowly but surely, breaking them down, especially when you cannot understand why they make the impulsive choices that they do. If addiction was easily treatable, we wouldn’t feel the need to save people from themselves. Just because you may want recovery for someone you love, does not mean that they want the same thing for themselves. It’s important that you know their choices are not a reflection of you. Sometimes, all you can really do is love them through their struggle, and hope they will see their illness for what it is. Only then can they begin to want recovery as much as they need it.

Accepting the Difference

I can say from personal experience that my recovery did not begin until I wanted it to. I was not willing to admit that I had a problem until I finally took a look at my life, decided that I was not where I wanted to be, and actively began trying to understand why I felt the need to self-destruct for as long as I did.

As I work towards my third year of wanted recovery, I continue to have breakthroughs through writing, therapy and exercise. Discovering that I have lived with mental illness for most of my life was a huge turning point for me when it came to accepting myself. Although I may always be considered an addict, I no longer have to self-medicate what I refused to recognize for years.

Obviously, addiction is not a one size fits all diagnosis. It impacts everyone differently, and the toll it takes also varies depending on how far and deep the addiction goes. But, when it comes to recovery, one vital thing that I have learned throughout my own experience is this: Recovery can only be long-lasting when a person wants to be sober and healthy.

a woman smiling and holding a string in her hair.
By – Megan Lawrence
Megan is a writer in Recovery with a passion for healing others through the power of word. She believes in speaking her truth, being loud and proud about her story, and she hopes to inspire others to share theirs through her website, Healing Hopefuls. Read more
Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.