Tag: long-term recovery

What The Hell is a Negative Contract?

Really, What Are They?

negative contracts

Okay, so what the hell is a negative contract? If you’re anything like me, you’ve heard this term thrown around in treatment, halfway houses, and twelve-step meetings without actually knowing what it means.

I’ve been sober for seven years now. It wasn’t until year two or three that I actually learned what a negative contract was. Probably because I was hardheaded in treatment and didn’t pay full attention!

So, what is a negative contract? It’s simply keeping a secret that may be harmful to yourself or others. It’s keeping a secret you shouldn’t keep. Still sound a bit confusing? Well, read on to find specific examples of negative contracts during the various stages of sobriety!

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Keeping Secrets in Rehab

Negative contracts and rehab, the two go together like peanut butter and jelly! I’d like to share an example from my own time in treatment to illustrate just how harmful negative contracts in rehab can be.

In 2007, I was in a medium sized rehab. We had around forty patients altogether. Many of them were sneaking around, hooking up with each other, and sharing medication. It was a bit of a mess.

The staff found out about all this, although they didn’t find out who was doing what specifically. We had a “community meeting” where the therapists tried to get us to admit to details. I wasn’t directly involved in any of it, but I did know what was happening. I didn’t say anything and neither did anyone else.

A few weeks later, one of the guys involved relapsed, overdosed, and died.

Did he die because he was keeping a negative contract? Of course not! Still, he wasn’t living honestly. He wasn’t living by spiritual principles. He wasn’t drinking, but he wasn’t sober. That contributed to his relapse, which did kill him.

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Halfway Houses & Hiding the Truth

The time we spend living in a halfway house or other sober living facility is, generally speaking, considered “early to middle sobriety.” We have a little bit of time, we’re actively engaged in working the steps, and we’re trying to grow as spiritual men and women.

We’re still at risk for keeping negative contracts though. Thankfully, at this point, we’re usually not in imminent danger of drinking. What we are in danger of is living in a selfish and unhealthy manner. And make no mistake, these things lead back to drinking.

Keeping a negative contract during this period is a major danger! From personal experience, I know how damaging it can be. One of my roommates would regularly sneak women into our halfway house. I never said anything about it. I held that negative contract.

While I didn’t end up drinking, I certainly felt emotionally drained. I wasn’t being honest. I wasn’t helping my roommate or myself. I started to get angry all the time. I started to, once again, become selfish rather than selfless.

Speaking of halfway houses, learn how they help during early-sobriety!

Negative Contracts in Long-Term Sobriety

And here we get to the good stuff! Long-term sobriety! This is, generally speaking, any length of time after the first three years of sobriety.

Do people in long-term recovery keep negative contracts? You bet they do! Although I don’t have personal experience (I finally started living right!), I can share a sponsee’s experience.

My sponsee worked at a popular fast-food restaurant. He knew of someone who was stealing money from the register. He didn’t say anything. He called me more than a few times torn up over this knowledge. He knew he should do something, but he simply didn’t.

Did he drink? Nope. He did act out in other ways though. Much like my experience, he began to get angry and act like, well, like an idiot. He would snap and yell at the people he lived with. He would let people walk all over him. He was living, in other words, like he was still drinking.

Getting Rid of Negative Contracts

what is a negative contract

The solution to negative contracts, as simple as it may sound, is to simply share the secret. You may have heard the saying “we’re only as sick as our secrets.” That’s absolutely true!

Holding a negative contract helps no one. It doesn’t help the person you’re holding it for. It only enables their negative behavior. It doesn’t help us. It only feeds our character defects.

So, tell someone! It doesn’t matter if the person you tell is your sponsor, therapist, friend, sober support, or anyone else. It’s just important to get that negative contract out.

Now, there is one caveat to the above statement. You shouldn’t tell the negative contract to someone it would hurt. That is to say, if you know someone is cheating on their significant other, don’t tell the significant other!

Now that we know how to handle a negative contract, let’s go out and start living our lives based on spiritual principles!

Anonymous People: Long-Term Sobriety in the Spotlight

The Anonymous People: A Must See For People in Recovery

the anonymous people

You may have heard of The Anonymous People. It’s a documentary film that came out in late 2013 and has been causing some ripples in the recovery community.

People, both in recovery and not, are pretty divided about it. They seem to love it or hate it. Consider, for example, The Anonymous People holds a 43% freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Or that it’s been critically panned by major media outlets.

On the other hand, The Anonymous People has more than succeeded at its goal – to get people talking about both addiction and recovery. The group that made the film, Faces & Voices of Recovery has seen a dramatic increase in support of their causes.

So, what is The Anonymous People all about? Is it a heroic example of those in long-term recovery breaking the chain of silence? Is it a poorly executed documentary film? Is it both at once? Let’s find out.

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The Anonymous People: The Truth Behind the Film

The Anonymous People is a project from MANYFACES1VOICE. MANYFACES1VOICE, in turn, is a project of Faces & Voices of Recovery. I’ll explore Faces & Voices of Recovery, and the wonderful work they’re doing, later.

The Anonymous People began as a Kickstarter project way back in 2012. It quickly surpassed its modest $45,000 goal. In fact, by the time their Kickstarter ended, they’d raised upwards of $70,000.

The goal of The Anonymous People was to document some of the over twenty-three million Americans in long-term recovery. They achieved this goal and then some! To quote their literature –

“Just like women with breast cancer, or people with HIV/AIDS, courageous addiction recovery advocates are starting to come out of the shadows to tell their true stories…This passionate new public recovery movement is fueling a changing conversation that aims to transform public opinion, and finally shift problematic policy toward lasting recovery solutions” (The Anonymous People).

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The Anonymous People: The Movie that Broke Anonymity

One of the criticisms most often leveled against The Anonymous People is that those in the film are breaking their anonymity.

Much like the steps, twelve-step fellowships also have traditions. Tradition number eleven reads, “Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.”

Many people have accused The Anonymous People of breaking this tradition and even profiting from members’ anonymity. This is where things get controversial.

Does The Anonymous People break the anonymity of those in the film? I’m not so sure. First, not once does anyone refer to being a member of a specific twelve-step fellowship. Rather, they identify as “individuals in long-term recovery from substance-abuse disorder.”

Second, it’s been argued that anonymity actually hurts the sober community. Debating this point would open up a whole can of worms that I have no desire to open. Instead, I’ll simply say the mission of The Anonymous People is to change how society at large views addiction and recovery.

The fact that I’m writing this article, or that people are debating anonymity, proves the film has accomplished its goal.

Learn what long-term sobriety is really about!

Faces & Voices of Recovery

faces and voices of recovery

As mentioned above, the organization behind The Anonymous People is Faces & Voices of Recovery. They’re a non-profit addiction treatment and reform advocacy group, formed in St. Paul, Minnesota in 2001.

A little over a decade since their humble beginning, Faces & Voices of Recovery has exploded, both in membership and scope. They boast over 25,000 members and have many various offshoots.

Take, for example, The Association of Recovery Community Organizations. They’re an international network of recovery organizations, with chapters in America, Canada, and the U.K.

Faces & Voices of Recovery advocates for a drastic change in how the public views addiction, recovery, and addiction treatment. To that end, they’ve lobbied local and state legislatures. They’ve hosted countless events. They’ve strived, for thirteen years now, to affect positive change for those suffering from addiction.

Addiction is a complicated and often misunderstood disorder. Quality addiction treatment requires a comprehensive and compassionate approach. Fortunately, that’s where Lighthouse Recovery Institute steps in.

We offer Comprehensive Addiction Treatment at a variety of levels. Call us today at 1-844-I-CAN-CHANGE or 1-(561)-381-0015 to find out about our individualized and inclusive substance abuse programs.

Recovery is possible for anyone and everyone. Learn how we help you or a loved one take the first step towards a new life.

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