Fxxk the Recovery Police and do what works for YOU

I’ve been secretly wanting to write this blog for years to challenge some of the views and opinions of a small minority of whom I refer to as the “Recovery Police” present in the recovery community. The Recovery message is supposed to carry hope, yet a silent battle exists within some corners of the recovery community about what works best.

I’m talking about a small minority of people who act like self-appointed gatekeepers of sobriety, armed with rigid rules based on their own lived experience or program. Their intentions may be well-meaning, but their impact can be detrimental.

Addiction already carries its own weight—shame, guilt, and isolation. Must we add more layers of rights and wrongs to the struggle?

Saying this will probably land me in a shit load of trouble with the Recovery Police, but I’m gonna say it anyway.

“There isn’t one treatment or recovery program out there that can guarantee success because any success ultimately depends on YOU and the inside work that YOU do on YOURSELF”.

In this blog, I wanted to throw my two penneth into the conversation about some comments people might hear in the recovery community.

” Follow the Program or Fail”

This myth perpetuates the idea that there’s a universal recipe for recovery and that there is a right or wrong way. There are various approaches people can adopt, but life isn’t a cookie-cutter experience. We all each carry a unique blend of genes, experiences, and set of circumstances, and so our journeys will reflect this diversity.

“You cannot say you are in recovery unless you are abstaining from ALL mind-altering substances.” – For the Abstainers, this is true.

I won’t and cannot deny that millions of people have found solace in complete abstinence. Their path is clear and unwavering; this works for them, and that’s amazing. But for some people, this can sometimes feel like an unrealistic quest. Everyone is unique, so it makes sense that their recovery journey will be unique to them, too. I know of people who aren’t visible in the community and have sought out healing in alternative ways, like getting support from hypnotherapists, exploring their spirituality, participating in activities such as yoga and art, or connecting with nature.

Then, there is the Harm Reduction category, the one which I fall into,  going from harder drugs to occasional alcohol consumption. I am also very aware that my role as chair of the Recovery Forum has been called into question by some members of the recovery police. I’ll be candid: this bothered me for a time, but do you know what? I frankly no longer give a fuck, because I’ve learned, and I know that my journey is unique and personal to me, and it has been ever since I stopped using illicit drugs. My reality is that I am no longer that person, but I am a better person because of it.

“Once an addict, always an addict.”

I think it is essential to recognize that recovery is possible, and people can overcome addiction with the proper support and resources. For me, this reinforces the belief that recovery is a perpetual struggle that will stay with you forever. Who wants to carry that label for the rest of their life?

YES, there was a period in my life when I was dependent on substances to the point, I didn’t give a fuck about the impact my actions were having on anyone else, including myself, but do I want to carry that label or the stigma associated with it for the rest of my life?

Erm NO

I got to where I am now because several people saw something in me that I couldn’t see myself. Instead of telling me where I was going wrong, they helped shine a light on my potential. They encouraged me to continue digging deep, which helped me see and overcome many of the limiting beliefs about myself that had been holding me back from reaching my full potential.

For me, recovery is all about becoming a better version of the person you were before.

“What support group do you attend?” Does it matter? What matters more is if it is working for you.

Support groups vary depending on their philosophy. The quality of the groups also depends on the person chairing them. Support groups are supposed to be a lifeline for people to share their vulnerabilities and receive unconditional encouragement from others who have ventured into dark places like you.

But remember, what counts more is the work you do on yourself outside of the support group environment.

“How many days clean are you?”

I personally find this one offensive. It is just the word clean implies that someone was once dirty. Let me be clear: I’m not saying that milestones don’t matter, but recovery is not about counting the days—it’s about making each day count.

Also, I have seen people who have fallen into the trap of comparing themselves. But comparison is the thief of joy because when we compare our recovery to someone else’s, we rob ourselves of our own unique progress. Your recovery isn’t a photocopy of someone else’s. It’s a masterpiece painted with your struggles, victories, and setbacks. Cherish it.

Also, I have encountered people with so called years of “Clean” time under their belts but who still have toxic hearts. They usually compare everyone else’s to their own and are the first to jump on the gossip wagon when they hear about someone’s lapse or relapse. Like self-appointment commentators, they will debate and discuss their thoughts about where “they” think someone else has gone wrong, which I think says as much about them as it does the person they gossip about.

The bottom line is that lapses and relapses are part of the journey. Recovery isn’t linear; it’s a dance between falling and rising. Each relapse carries lessons. It’s not failure; it’s resilience in action. Recovery isn’t about avoiding falls but learning to bounce instead of breaking.

Final word

Just try to remember that your recovery isn’t about fitting into a mould but more about finding your own rhythm. Let’s replace fatalistic labels with hope, resilience, and growth messages. There is some amazing sources of support available and there is no need for anyone to suffer alone or in silence, just take what you need from the support offered, take note of other people’s lessons, and be willing to accept constructive feedback. But make sure that you surround yourself with people encouraging you and lifting you up, not pulling you down, because, in my eyes, it is a crime.

Ultimately, recovery is an inside job, and self-awareness is a vital and powerful tool, but remember that self-awareness is an ongoing process. Be patient with yourself and embrace your journey of transformation and xxck the Recovery Police.

Remember – I don’t write for financial reward or gain. I just aim to help share my lived experience with others, hoping it helps and if it doesn’t then thats ok too. I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences, so feel free to pop them in the comments box below

Love Fordy


23 thoughts on “Fxxk the Recovery Police and do what works for YOU

  1. So true. Recovery plans are living documents. Written in
    Living human beings. They are unique and changing. No one shoe fits all. Walk on blaze your own path.

    1. Thank you sooooo much for the feedback Jodie, I have to confess I was slightly nervous about sharing it out of fear of offending, but judging by the response it sounds like alot more people are on the same page

  2. Absolutely agree with this 100%. I remember being told I didn’t have “solid recovery’ because as as single parent I didn’t attend meetings, this can be so damaging for someone’s journey. I’ve always said recovery is subjective to the individual. This is a brilliant read and will help a lot of people I think!

  3. I’m so glad you have made this point Tracey and I hope the recovery police take note, we all can make changes but we all learn differently in our own way, there are no set rules!!! Recovery is personal to each individual, let people make their own choices. All we need is each other to have our backs.

  4. Interesting, I’m for every discussing this with my friends and colleagues who have gone from addiction to recovery. I wouldn’t have ever thought to write a blog like this though, because I don’t ever consider myself to have ever been in recovery. This is even though I have been on heroin on 3 separate occasions, and could only stop by going to prison.
    I’m happy for people who have gone through a recovery process, and found some health on the other side. Of course, I accept that I did some recovering through the withdrawal process. However, I have never stepped for in any ‘group’ and certainly didn’t want to get involved in any interventions (other than those forced down my throat in prison) because I only wanted to stop taking heroin. I knew once I maintained that, I’d be fine.
    In my view, there are as many ways to get off substances as there are reasons for becoming addicted in the first place.
    I wouldn’t worry too much about the ‘recovery police’ as there are ‘rehabilitation’ or ‘desistance police’ and you’ll probable find them in mental health, too.
    Interesting read though, so thanks for sharing.
    Andi Xx

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read and reply, Andrew; I’m pretty much the same; I was discharged from a mental institution with no aftercare. I know it sounds crazy, but it took me a while to get my head around the fact that my main issue was drug-related. hence why I myself found it hard to associate myself as being someone in recovery. However in hindsight and in the absence of specialist support my recovery journey has been very similar to many who have received support or followed a program – I kinda made it up as I went along, based on what appeared to me working for me at that time

  5. Hi Tracey, thanks for posting this. I admit that I once was a member of the recovery police. I definitely used to believe that there was only one way to “recover “ and I was quite rigid in my thinking.
    Thankfully, my views on this topic have dramatically changed.
    Because of my own experience- trying to use drugs and drink moderately- and always having things go horribly pear shaped- I used to overlap my experience onto others, and when people weren’t doing recovery like I was I came to the conclusion they weren’t doing it right.
    The total abstinence method is what worked for me, and I signed up to the 12 step program 100%. I found a lot of freedom through doing that process, but overtime started to look at other people recovering in their own way- people still having a drink, some using drugs occasionally, and were happy about it. Which leads me to the conclusion I came to a while ago- I was wrong to question other people’s choices and methods, and I’m glad to be in a place now where I’m curious about other people’s journey of recovery, whatever it looks like.
    Thanks again.

    1. Thank you for taking the time out to respond Anthony, I recently had a friend who went through another detox decided to try the steps again, just in case she’d not worked them properly, she started to attend meetings every day, but said I just cannot cope with talking about drinking constantly, i want a drink every time I leave – she thought it was her, but i explained it isnt her, its jus that the steps arnt for her so suggested she try SMART instead. The bottom line is recovery is an inside job, if you are personally feeling the benefits, in my eyes thats all that counts

  6. Brilliant blog Tracey, as LEROs we have to show up in a place of compassion, love & care, no matter what. Its not our place to judge or dictate, only to celebrate and support in the spirit of community. People come & go and that’s totally fine, the doors always open. Recovery is fluid just like life, we evolve & change with experience but none of it is possible alone. We learn & grow with others.
    Whatever works, works. It’s our job to ensure we support your aspirations to live your best life, through peer support, community and an opportunity to try new stuff.

  7. Recovery is a very personal thing that I believe requires dedication, patience time to craft. A ‘hard stop’ in rehab allowed me to have space from a chaotic and trauma ridden childhood and drug and alcohol riddled life. My experiences tells me (after numerous attempts) that alcohol and drugs don’t suit my system and for that reason I take the abstinence route. My journey into recovery continues to develop as I learn more about me and my emotional and spiritual needs. What people choose to do is up to them, find your tribe and love em hard !! Recovery isn’t easy so love, compassion and connection I believe are three key ingredients to happiness. Do what works for you and remember what anyone else thinks of you is none of your business. !!

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