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Tragicomedy: Finding Humor in Recovery

It is a common concern of newcomers that entering into a recovery will program will be incredibly serious and humorless. After all, addiction is an extremely serious problem and, for many of us, recovery is the difference between life and death. Yet, among men and women in the recovery community there is a great amount of humor about our shared tragedies and experiences.

In a sense, we often use humor and laughter as a necessary coping mechanism. Eric Jaffe, in a 2013 Association for Psychological Science article entitled Awfully Funny, explains, “… jokes help people cope with the hard times in life. An ability to laugh at rough moments can reduce the negative emotions surrounding a stressful event and also create the positive feelings associated with amusement in general. Put together, those two affective swings can enhance a person’s coping powers.” By joking about our experiences, we are healthily coping with the difficulty of our past and strengthening our bonds with one and other.

The laughter in recovery can seem far too dark for those who have not had experiences with addiction and alcoholism. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous explains, “So we think cheerfulness and laughter make for usefulness. Outsiders are sometimes shocked when we burst into merriment over a seemingly tragic experience out of the past. But why shouldn’t we laugh? We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others.” In fact, when speaking to newcomers to the rooms of 12-step programs, the Big Book advises, “If he is in a serious mood dwell on the troubles liquor had caused you, being careful not to moralize or lecture. If his mood is light, tell him humorous stories of your escapades.” Humor and laughter, especially about our experiences, help strengthen the common body we have with others in the recovery community.

Mark Twain famously said, “Humor is tragedy plus time.” The fact that we are able to find humor in something as serious and tragic as addiction is a testament to how far we have removed ourselves from active addiction. Others may feel that dark jokes are indicative of depression or sadness, but the truth is quite the opposite. The Brain Flux, in an article entitled 4 Traits of People Who Appreciate Dark Humor, examined a study that found that people who appreciate dark humor tend to have better moods and less aggressive tendencies. They explain, “… despite what most probably think, people who enjoy dark humor aren’t twisted or angry themselves. It may actually be the people who don’t like sick jokes that you have to worry about. People that appreciate dark humor are sharper than average. The study found these individuals more emotionally stable, happier, and better adjusted. They are able to distance themselves from topics that others might find taboo.” We should always maintain an awareness of the seriousness of our affliction, but laughter may be an effective medicine in our recovery.

Your life doesn’t have to be held back by the chains of addiction. You can make the decision to seek help today and begin building a brighter future. Resilient House, located in beautiful Shreveport, Louisiana, brings together the highest quality behavioral health and addictions specialists, holistic experts, and spiritual guides to help clients develop all the tools necessary to achieve and maintain sobriety. For information about treatment options, please call today: (833) 242-6431