Having spent most of my adult life in active addiction without actually knowing it, it was high time. I arrived not knowing anything about addiction, besides what I'd seen in movies. I quickly learned that the road to recovery is seldom straight, but I was determined to change my life.
Addiction is complex and not linear – there are two different types: process and substance addiction, and they range from behaviours to anything you’re able to ingest, inhale or inject. What all addiction has in common is that they affect the reward, reinforcement, motivation and memory systems of the brain. They are characterized by impaired control over usage and are harmful to relationships and all aspects of life. In short, addiction causes detrimental consequences.
Because I identified with a broad variety of addictions, I didn’t fit specifically into one group or category and I soon found that I wasn’t alone. Through recovery, I watched my new friends jump from group to group trying to get a grasp on one substance or behaviour at a time. I eventually settled into one home group where I felt safe and accepted. I can’t tell you what type of home group I landed in simply because 12 Step groups have a rule about that. We must maintain personal anonymity at the level of tv, radio, internet and film.
Shifting to a sober life did not happen overnight. It was tough work but I did it one day at a time. In 2016, I started to get my zest for life back. I found a passion for preserving, and decided to make jam for a living. Unfortunately, as I spent more and more time in recovery rooms I noticed a common theme... unworthiness. For years addicts have been categorized as unworthy by family, society, spouses, friends, institutions, and media. All addictions have the capacity to induce a sense of hopelessness and feelings of failure, shame and guilt, and being secretly sequestered to a dark church basement for the meetings didn’t help.
And while addiction has made great strides to be accepted as a disease, not a choice, the stigma around addiction is still very different from other diseases. As I settled into my new sober reality I realized that I could, if I chose to, recover out loud while still maintaining the anonymity that is the foundation to 12 Step groups.I came to the realization that I needed to recover out loud for myself and for anyone else who needs to hear and see the message I bring.
Meanwhile, back at the kitchen, the jam business was taking off! I decided the jam deserved a fitting new name. I began working on the new brand with a trusted business development friend. We set out to find a name for the jam and, while literally looking through a thesaurus, the word Worthy jumped off the page! I exclaimed, “Worthy!” and he said, “Yup. That’s it!”
With my heart on my sleeve, I vowed to recover out loud. My hope is that, one jar at a time, I can reduce the stigma around addiction and remind everyone: we are all worthy.