May and June are the months when graduations from universities, colleges and high schools typically occur. A colleague and dear friend suggested that I write about addiction and recovery in the context of a graduation theme. I have thought about it on and off for the past two weeks. Here is some of what I have concluded.

In the most common parlance, graduation from school is an event. It is an event that recognizes all who have attained a goal of completing curriculum and requirements that represents their assimilation of knowledge and development of skills, meeting criteria of satisfaction and even excellence. Yet it is much more than that. It is really a culmination of a journey through education, easy at times, challenging at others, and sometimes seemingly near impossible. Maybe the term culmination should be replaced by milestone as graduation is really a moment for reflection, recognition and a deep breath before one continues their life journey of experience, skill development and, indeed, more education.

This is where I see how the metaphor fits best. Each graduation from school is a milestone in a gradual, life-long learning process, which rarely occurs in a linear fashion. Lifetime learning has detours, changes in direction, and moments of frustration, stress and disappointment. Lifetime learning also comes with those “aha moments,” reassuring times when everything seems to be unfolding perfectly for us. As we move forward, building upon successes from day to day, learning more with each corresponding graduation, our lives seem more rewarding. Each ensuing acknowledgement is a recognition of not only that most recent learning achievement, but all of those that preceded it, and all of those to come. Graduations are truly a celebration of the aggregate of whom we are and who we might be, as well as who we can become, with ever greater confidence in the future.

Can recovery be this same positive lifetime learning experience–an enduring, gradual process with milestones of graduation and acknowledgement in which all can find a measure of true joy?

Until next time,


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