In a few months, I will observe 20 years in recovery from addiction. I don’t attribute much significance to anniversaries but twenty years is a long time and this nice round number demands acknowledgement and a bit of reflection. The observation of this milestone takes me back to the principles and practices that guided me through those first difficult days, months and years. Some of these arose from twelve step recovery programs. I received support from these communities, and the steps and slogans (though eliciting much eye-rolling at the time) provided a set of simple formulas for living that resisted overthinking. I benefited from the often humbling process of self inquiry in and outside of therapy. I often return to those literally sobering bits of self knowledge- the blind spots revealed in all of their banality and pathos: in the end, I am human, just like everyone else. When I get off balance, I try to come back to the homely wisdom of the 10th step of AA: “we continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.” And finally, I come back to the inevitability of change, and with that the possibility of transformation and healing. In the words of Antonio Gramsci: “Every day I want to reckon with myself and every day I want to renew myself.”

Over the next few months, I plan to revisit this topic through a series of blog posts on living in recovery. For those of you in recovery, I ask for your feedback. I want this to be a conversation, not a monologue. What are the challenges? What has helped? What threatens your recovery and what brings you back to it? Tell me about the transformation and about getting stuck- the reckoning and the renewal. Feel free to post a response to the blog or to send me a private message or email.


Julia Levine, LCSW, specializes in recovery support, self-harm behaviors, high conflict relationships and parenting teens.