"Addiction" has easily become one of the most stigmatized words in the English language. It invokes a sense of severity. It signifies a medical diagnosis. It indicates that a person needs an intervention -- and soon -- before being lost entirely. But you don't need to be an addict to benefit from the process of recovery.
In their latest book, Gratitude and Trust: Six Affirmations That Will Change Your Life, co-authors Paul Williams and Tracey Jackson argue that therapeutic treatment can benefit anyone. No matter the walk of life you come from or the issues you face, the self-reflective recovery process can help you learn critical lessons. Using principles from the traditional recovery movement, the authors, who have become close friends over the past few decades, explain how such practices benefit a person's mental, physical and emotional health regardless of the "A" word -- and share their personal stories to prove it.
Williams is an Oscar- and Grammy-winning songwriter and a recovering addict. While he managed to keep his career in tact through his downward spiral with drug and alcohol abuse, 24 years ago he was forced to face the personal baggage that triggered his addictive behaviors in the first place. Recovery not only proved essential in helping him become the person he is today, but also revealed to him that the principles now guiding his life don't exclusively help people with addictions.
Jackson is a successful screenwriter and author and not an addict. Yet her experiences with traditional therapy -- as well as the recovery needs of many people close to her -- sparked her interest in sharing these helpful tools with people hoping to find productive ways to deal with daily difficulties.
The two friends reconnected several years ago after a screening of Williams's film, "Paul Williams Is Still Alive", when Jackson was itching to write a book on recovery but had yet to discover the right approach.
"I heard him speak, and he mentioned that his choo-choo ran on the twin rails of gratitude and trust, and sitting there in the audience, I just thought, 'That's the book, that's the catchword, that's the phrase,'" Jackson told The Huffington Post. "He had talked a lot about his recovery before, and I had heard him speak about it. He knew I had a lot of friends in recovery, he knew I liked the principles of recovery, but we never really said it. It was kind of an eureka day."
When Jackson approached Williams with the idea, he was equally excited by the chance to provide this information to a broader, more general audience.
"People have been saying they see the remarkable change in my life and the way I accept life on life's terms and ask, 'Why don't we have something like that?'" Williams told The Huffington Post. "When Tracey and I talked about it, all of a sudden we began to identify the difference between an addict who suffers from the life-threatening disease of addiction and people that have life-limiting habits. There's a great variety of things that hold people back from living their best possible lives."
In the text, they weave their individual experiences into information about belief systems from around the world that support the six affirmations holding the guide together.
The first affirmation, "Something needs to change, and it's probably me," is one of the toughest for many people to wholly accept. "It's a natural resistance," said Jackson. "We're trained from an early age in this society that everything is fine, that we should not broadcast our problems, that we should siphon our feelings. A lot of our behavior is engrained subconsciously, and oftentimes people don't even know where to go. They don't have a GPS, they don't have a map, they know something's wrong, they know something doesn't feel right, they know that their life is off-kilter, but they don't have any navigational tools to lead them where to go."
That's where the authors hope the six affirmations, accompanying explanations and small suggested steps will come into play. By focusing on living in the moment, taking it one day at a time and breaking down bigger problems into smaller pieces, we accomplish several things -- we better ourselves, we do it collectively, we help weaken the isolating stigma that says only addicts need or benefit from this type of work. Taking an honest look at ourselves before bad habits become destructive -- or addictive -- can lead to the most helpful discoveries.