Njon Sanders
5 min readMay 25, 2022

Why We STILL Think Recovery Sucks

I got halfway through season 2 of The Flight Attendant on HBO and I’m sad to say I’m dropping it mid-season. The show is exciting, fun, and well-cast. What’s got me distracted to the point of abandoning it is the cringe portrayal of “recovery”. It’s great to see more shows not glamorize addiction but all too often (Gurl, I’m looking at you too, Euphoria) we see characters go through what we are led to believe is a standard recovery cycle:

· Addict has a near-death or similar incident(s) that constitutes their “hitting rock bottom”

· Addict cries

· Addict goes to detox and is angry with/at people sitting in a circle (and cries)

· Addict has an epiphany and ends their detox successfully (tells staff “you’ll never see me again!”)

· Addict goes home and REALLY struggles (and cries)

· Addict goes to restaurant and is accidentally served alcohol, but generic friend is there to scold the server

· Addict goes to AA meeting with coffee, donuts, and is angry with/at people sitting in a circle while listening to the last 30 seconds of someone telling how they messed up and missed their mother’s funeral but how now, everything is fantastic (one day at a time)

· Addict needed to hear exactly that and cries

· Two or seven years go by, and the addict’s every thought is still about having a drink

· Sponsor or parent reminds the addict that they are still in grave danger and anthropomorphizes their substance of choice as the tricky demon waiting to drag them back down

· A bad thing happens, and the addict immediately has one drink that turns into a multiple-day binge

· Addict cries

· Addict meets with sponsor who tells them that any progress they made has been thrown away and that they were never really ready for recovery

· Addict cries

W the actual F‽

There is literally damage done in regurgitating these kinds of stereotypical portrayals. This would have passed for recovery in the 80s but today we have evolved as a much more knowledgeable community. We now understand that prior to recovery people with substance use disorders…

Njon Sanders

After decades of living in crisis, I feel it is a gift to be able to support my communities in serving others – making things better for us all.