Recovering My Identity

We continue to mine the research wisdom of William L White on the next few blogs. William White is one of a growing number of researchers looking into recovery. This is an oft neglected part of research although we are beginning to see  research into the neurobiology of recovery as we have discussed in various other blogs.

William White takes a more qualitative approach than our previous research blogs. It is important to marry quantitative and qualitative research moving forward. For example, William White makes an important point in his research writing about durability of recover, i.e. at what point (or how long does it take for) recovery to be considered durable?

Is there a period at which we can say these individuals in recovery will most likely continue to stay in recovery long term?

From a quantitative perspective it would be illuminating to image the brain of these individuals at say 5 years and compare to early recovery brain images to show what functions of the brain improve, what neurobiology is replenished (balanced) which neural networks are connected or reconnected via altered behaviour-based neuroplasticity etc.

Everyone should have access to information on the processes involved in  getting well, what this wellness looks like and how to get there. If you went to your doctor about any other illness or condition you would expect some information about treatment, likely chances of treatment success, likely outcomes of treatment and how you are likely to be in the long term. So why not have this information available in relation to addictive behaviour recovery?

Anyway on with next video on the experience of recovery.

Recovery Identity

There appear to be three types of recovery identity according to William White’s research

Positive – extremely enthusiastic about being in recovery and want everyone to know that they are in recovery!! I can relate to this I’m afraid. Especially int he earlier months of recovery when I was converting the world to the 12 step world of spiritual awakening!! The preaching phase of my recovery.


Negative – In recovery but deeply ashamed about being in recovery because of the social stigma related to having the disease of addiction.

Interpersonal Styles of Recovery

Acultural – individuals who initiate and sustain  recovery without relationships with other people in recovery.

Bi cultural – can move within distinct cultures of recovery but can also function quite comfortably with “normies”or “earthlings” i.e. normal people at large in society.

Culturally enmeshed – deeply enmeshed within the culture of recovery. They live within the culture of recovery so much  and so exclusively that they have almost no contact with the mainstream culture. This is not unusual in early recovery but may not be encouraged in much later recovery.

At some point we all should be encouraged to, as William White states, “get a life” which is to leave to comfort blanket of exclusively 12 step life to start walking across that bridge to normal living. I know from my own recovery that suddenly, after 18 months, having to start working in a school with troublesome boys and kids with learning differences improved my recovery immeasurably.  Although I did not want to do it initially and was half terrified of doing so.

The best recovery is often in the world of people, this connectedness to others helps the recovery process no end. All recovery seems to most effective in a social setting. It helps test our so-called spirituality no end. We can only be sages in an AA meeting but in real life we really find out how spiritual we really are!!? 

It also helps with self esteem and self confidence in our own abilities. I have found in recovery, that I am recovering a person I have never known or met before. Recovery is an adventure in a sense. We continually disprove our over critical heads which is constantly telling us we can’t when we can.

I leave it to my higher power, which I call God, to reveal the me He wants me to be. 

Drugs were never this exciting!


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