Finding the recovery door

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Row of doors

Picking the right door.
Photo courtesy of

Why this time recovery just might take.

“This program has really helped me, ” the client said. I had to wonder why. They had been in several programs before and none of them had worked. I thought of all the usual reasons.

We like to think that every client needs to be ready. The old way of thinking about that was to say that people need to “hit bottom.” The assumption here was that until things get really, really, bad you might not be willing to give up that familiar problem.

This hitting bottom idea is most often applied to people in substance abuse recovery but experience has taught me that the same process of looking for and finding recovery happens to those people who have a mental or emotional issue. Sometimes people have both.

One person’s bottom may be getting arrested for a DUI or being so anxious they miss work again and lose their job. For another person, their bottom may be a total loss of family, friends, and job. Some people find recovery when they are homeless, some not even then.

So when I see someone who has been through various programs I always wonder what will be different this time.

“I knew there was recovery out there” the client replied, “but every time I got to the recovery door I just didn’t go in.” I knew they weren’t talking about programs or even about the number of therapists they had seen. That list was in the file and there were plenty.

“What door?” I asked.

“The recovery door.” The client said again. I knew there was recovery behind that door but I was just afraid to open the door and go through it. That would mean changing my life and when I got there I was just afraid of what else might change so I never walked through and entered recovery.” They explained.

In recovery, it takes whatever it takes for someone to be ready to walk through that door. It doesn’t do any good to try to pull them through the door kicking and screaming. The best I can ever do is hold the door open and let them catch a glimpse of recovery. Maybe they will build up some desire for this thing called recovery, especially when they see others who look like them who have found recovery.

I have heard other ways of saying this. The metaphors may be different but the sentiment is the same.

People go to programs and they get a set of “tools” then they don’t take those tools out of the package and get them dirty. They don’t use the recovery tools to solve their problems.

We get close to that door to a new life and then out of fear of the unknown, we are afraid to take that last step and walk through the door into a new happy life.

Is there some life change you need to make to find your recovery? Do you need to reach out for help? Should you be attending a program or a self-help group?

What do you need to be walking away from and what should you be moving towards?

No matter how long it takes to get there are you finally ready to walk through the recovery door?

Here is wishing you a happy, recovered life.

David Joel Miller, LMFT, LPCC

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

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6 thoughts on “Finding the recovery door

  1. Pingback: Driving the recovery bus – the role of self-motivation in recovery | counselorssoapbox

  2. Hi, I liked your essay. As someone who has worked as a counselor, I know it can be frustating when someone is not ready to go through that door…as a dual diagnosis person in recovery, I am also familiar with the other side of the equation.


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