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Can You Judge Someone Else’s Sobriety?

by Beit T'shuvah

January 30, 2013 | 3:37 pm

By Ben Spielberg


I've touched briefly on this issue in the past, but it's something that I see very often today. As treatment professionals, we are forced to indulge ourselves in judgement by picking apart the pieces of our client's sobriety.

It's controversial because there is a value in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous: “Don't take other people's inventories.” As recovering people devoted to Living Well, we cannot judge the actions that other people take; our resentments are our own. However, when working in a treatment center, the staff is forced to do the opposite. We analyze confrontations, engage in other people's problems and consume ourselves in eight hour intervals with the stresses of new sobriety.

Sometimes, I wonder if it's justified. No matter the amount of letters after one's name, there are still no qualifications that can accurately portray the plight of addiction into recovery. Even people engaged in their own recovery often forget the perils of withdrawal like clockwork, remembering only glimpses of euphoric recall. In addition, recovering individuals are not “supposed” to take note of the smaller issues in the lives of other people. We are not “supposed” to invest time into the recovery of other people, and we are not “supposed” to confront the newcomers in sobriety.

But we do—and it works. So how do we deal with these conflicting values—the values of saving lives, and the values of protecting AA principles? Maybe we can set up boundaries in order to protect our personal lives from our professional lives. Maybe, we can remember that everyone has a different path in their sobriety. After all, there is no one road to recovery. Right?

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