Many people think that the opposite of addiction is sobriety when, in fact, addiction’s true foe is found in the human being’s attunement to, and the connection with, others. The “other” is often a foreign concept for those in the throes of active addiction and incidentally, empathy is a virtue that is impossible when one’s only goal is to satisfy the need for the next fix. At best a byproduct, and at worst a goal of the addicted is isolation and separation from real connection with others. There are a multitude of reasons why someone would act so counterintuitively from the very nature and essence of what it means to be human, but the fact remains that this becomes the case. If connection is the destination and hope for salvation amongst addicts, think of empathy as the road to which leads us there. Compassion, understanding, and selflessness all stem from the ability to find the echoes from another person within yourself. When we are able to accomplish this feat, it can be said that we are engaging in true empathy.
When thinking about empathy in relation to recovery, at first glance the parallels between them may not seem obvious. Empathy was certainly not one of the traits that I would first think of that contributed to my abstinence from drugs, however, it is one of the foundations that have ensured that my life while abstaining from them was one of quality and vitality. Fostering true connections requires us to really get out of ourselves and one of the easiest and most fulfilling ways to actively participate in this is to step into the shoes of someone else and really experience both their struggles as well as their victories. This ability is uniquely human and it is one of the most curious gifts we can share with one another; it has been a gift I could only take advantage of in sobriety during a time where I have been actually capable of diving into another person’s story and seeing the world through their eyes. Empathy allows us to transcend ourselves and helps unify our souls with the Source. Broadly speaking, to me this has been part and parcel of my conception and conviction towards a Higher Power which the steps tell us is required for lasting sobriety, and even more importantly, a life worth living in it. “Spiritus Contra Spiritum” is a phrase that often comes to mind when thinking about the forces that work with us in our battle against this disease. Loosely translated it means that the divine forces of good will defeat the most depraved poisons of evil; I read it as connection with, and empathy for others will keep us from the temptations that hope to lure us back into our personal hell of isolation and misery.
While we all have the capacity to engage our empathic understanding, here at South Orange County Detox & Treatment (SOCD), our striving to see through the eyes of your true self and to understand your personal plight comes from the deep compassion we have for every client that walks through our doors. It was once asked of our visionary and director at SOCD, “I keep hearing that you are so AMAZING and that this place is so DIFFERENT? Why should I believe you’re so great, Salina?” To which Salina responded, “I don’t want you to believe it based on what you have heard, rather experience it and see if it’s true for yourself”. That particular individual found out those statements are true for himself and now has almost 1 ½ of sobriety with his own praise reports of the miracles that take place at South Orange County Detox & Treatment. We hope everyone finds here at SOCD that is in need of true understanding, compassion, and empathy: newfound family, friends, and above all, freedom from Addiction.