Recovery heroes are people who are vital for various reasons: hope that one day we may also be addiction-free and happy is the greatest reason of all. But there are other reasons why recovery heroes are so important.
Although we have to find our individual path to recovery, there is no need to totally reinvent the wheel. We can follow in the footsteps of people who have been there before, we can learn from their mistakes, see how they have faced challenges and still remained sober and happy. We can use them in times of trouble. We can ask ourselves “What would my recovery hero do or say about this situation?”
There are many people in recovery from addiction who I look up to, admire and respect, but here are some of the 5 people who deserve to be named as recovery heroes for me personally, and why I love them so much:
There is no-one I respect so much as someone who completely turns their life around – it’s a big task to go from angry trouble-making criminal to sober serene author, speaker and someone trying to reach out to young people who need help.
Noah Levine’s talks, podcasts, books and videos made me see that spirituality in recovery is not something to be sneered at or afraid of – it’s a way of making your recovery, and your whole life, much better. He’s a really accessible guide for people who don’t necessarily think of themselves as ‘the spiritual sort’.
Wynford Ellis Owen
Wynford was an alcoholic who had the same severity of problem as I did. Once sober, he wrote a book which validated so much for me about the problems I was experiencing. He really was a keystone in me reaching out for help, just by reading his book.
In person, he’s a wonderfully warm soul who holds positions at several recovery projects and steering groups. I feel I could ask him anything, literally anything, and he would reply with honesty, compassion and wisdom. In fact, I have often asked him several things about addiction and recovery – he never fails me.
Many of my recovery heroes are not particularly famous. Kuladitya was an alcohol counsellor I had many years ago, who used a person-centred approach (a la Carl Rogers) and understood addiction in a way that most counsellors I saw at the time didn’t.
He worked with me as an individual, not just as an addict (thanks for the lend of the Bukowski book). He was the first person in recovery I met who I emulated. I wanted his peace, his individuality, his recovery.
I have never met Kristen, though we’ve had a few Twitter chats. I love how open she is about her recovery and how she shows the world that recovery doesn’t have to be dull and boring. You’re allowed to keep your cheeky sense of humour when you’re sober and you’re allowed to be who you are.
In fact, recovery gives you the ability to be who you really are without wearing a mask of intoxication. Kudos to Kristen, who shows how much recovery rocks, and is willing to devote a lot of her time to helping others who are struggling with addiction. Kristen’s got guts. And some.
I have to give a shout-out to the director of The Anonymous People. I’ve never met him in person, but he has pushed the agenda of recovery forward massively. His film with Bill White, who also deserves special mention, made people realise that addiction is not a shameful thing – it’s a disorder. Recovery is possible and we should be loud and proud about it.
Thanks, Greg, for contributing a really important work to the world of recovery. And he deserves even more praise for rocking the recovery world at a relatively young age.
Who are your recovery heroes? And why?