New York, NY – It’s clear that some of the struggles we face are dark and personal. It’s also clear that seeking help can be very humbling and personally challenging. There is no denying that substance and alcohol abuse disorders are serious issues in our country. There are stigmas attached to these problems and whether at home or in the workplace, the topic of recovery is sensitive to the core. Either way, the struggle is real and often deadly. 

Fortunately, there are evidence-based recovery programs available. It can often be a challenge to find the right level of support, however. Not all struggles are the same. We are all unique in our own way. Therefore, not all of our needs are the same, and not all of our problems will require the same plan. There are those who struggle differently; therefore, there are those who will benefit from different levels of care. There will also be those who will benefit from different avenues of treatment. Either way, the main objective is to seek improvement. Or, as the saying goes, “We strive for progress, not perfection.”

Keep in mind, it is important to understand that slip ups will happen. “Relapse” is often part of the process. However, relapse does not mean recovery isn’t possible. Instead, it means the process of recovery needs attention. Perhaps a change of direction can help with the challenges? When in doubt, always look for the appropriate help and find the right people to talk to.

As a specialist and as a person in recovery with more than 30 years of continuous sobriety, I know that compulsions often defy reason. Although substance and alcohol abuse can lead towards degrading outcomes — shame and degradation will often lead us to the idea of “more.” Therefore, the goal is to avoid fear- and shame-based thinking. We have to learn to replace troubled thoughts with positive ones. We have to strive towards improvement on a daily basis. Which is not easy, especially in the beginning. But it does get better

There is another saying that goes, “One is too many and a thousand is never enough.” It was this saying that taught me the pathology of abuse disorders. It was this saying that taught me about personal powerlessness; and yet, it was this saying that taught me that empowerment begins the minute I choose to avoid that first “one.” This is something that can be attributed to other things such as food, or any other compulsive or addictive behavior. 

The goal is to feel better. You want to be okay. But the compulsion tells you that there is no other way; there is no other choice — and we repeat the cycle. But do not be discouraged — there is help. 

Admittedly, it would be wrong to say that recovery always works. Not everyone will stay the course. This is a mental health issue; it is a matter of chemistry, not personal character. Unfortunately, some will struggle harder and longer than others. It is true that there are those who find themselves unable to recover. But there are those who’ve defied the odds and changed their lives completely. 

Like any recipe for success, the ingredients are unique to the individual. And as for recovery, the plan is to find the right components that work best. This means avoiding the bullying ideas of stigma. Avoid ignorant or uneducated comments from those who do not understand. Keep a network of helpful resources. Find a sponsor or mentor. Understand that there are different pathways to recovery. As someone who has struggled with these same challenges in my own life, my best advice is to find the pathway that works best for you.

Trust me. You’ll be glad you did.

Ben Kimmel is a proud member of the IUOE Local 94, as well as an Author, Writer on, Mental Health First Aid Instructor, Certified Addiction and Recovery Coach, Certified Professional Life Coach, and Peer & Wellness Advocate.  Ben can be reached at



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