--Adolescent program parent
By Dr. Mark Warren
Throughout and after treatment clients often want to know if they are in recovery or if they can ever be truly recovered. Some believe that recovery is a process than happens every day and that one is never truly better; one is only always getting better. Others may think that once someone is recovered that they will never get sick again and can put the eating disorder in their past. Our experience is that neither of these ideas is a good fit for someone with an eating disorder. The notion of recovery comes from the world of substance abuse. When someone has an addiction the goal is to never utilize that substance or behavior again and completely eliminate it from their life. This process of making a daily or hourly decision (one day at a time) is the classic model for Alcoholics Anonymous, and most substance abuse recovery programs. It implies that one can make a choice every day to use or not use and to be or not be in recovery. It also implies that the addiction is always lurking somewhere over your shoulder. This model does not fit eating disorders. Eating can not be eliminated, in fact is should be done at least 5 times a day. So while we respect the model that works so well in addiction, the model can be at odds with eating disorder treatment. At the same time, the world “recovered” implies that everything is okay and there is nothing left to work on. This may be a good term for medical complications like bronchitis, which is to say a person can have bronchitis, take an antibiotics, and it goes away. The model we subscribe to, however, is a model that says “I am fully recovered, and I can also do better”. It is a model that says “I am fully better from the eating disorder, which once entangled my mind, body, and spirit, but I will never be done with personal growth”. For more information on the stages and process of recovery from an eating disorder we highly recommend Restoring our Bodies, Reclaiming Our Lives by Aimee Liu.
Should you have any questions or comments regarding this post please email email@example.com
Contributions by Sarah Emerman
© 2013 Cleveland Center For Eating Disorders. All rights reserved.