How do you define recovery? If you are in an addiction recovery program of any kind, you need to know.
Strangely enough few people have a clear idea. Most people’s definitions include vague and general terms such as “feeling better” “getting control of my life” and “it means getting clean and staying clean”
Working at recovery without a clear idea of what it is like going to a travel agent for an airline ticket being asked where do you want to go and answering “away from here”. When people finally get answers out they tend to say things like “serenity” peace of mind” liking myself” or “being in control of my life”. Unfortunately these answers are too vague to build a program on. If we use the airline example it’s like describing your destination as” some place warm” You just cant get a ticket that way.
Each individual’s definition of recovery sets him or her on a clearly defined path. Although recovery is certainly a process or journey, rather than a destination, it is virtually important that we map out the direction our recovery will take.
How to define recovery
When we define recovery we must also define
What, the problem or issue is
What needs to be done about the problem or issue?
What s our program for (remember: Your program cannot take you further than your own definition). Since few people define recovery for themselves in a specific manner, they have not clearly identified the key problem in their lives and therefore don’t have a good idea of where their program is supposed to take them.
So if the problem for example is “staying clean” then
The problem or issue is. ……………………………………Drugs.
What to do about it…………………………………………..not to take drugs.
My programme will then take me to………………………….abstinence.
So if drugs are the problem and not getting stoned is the solution, then everything should be all right. You name the problem, you take away the problem, then you have no problem right???
Where your program, takes you entirely hinges on how you define recovery you, not your friend, or your group or your sponsors. Think again about your own definition of recovery write it down on a piece of paper. If your definition of recovery is ------------
-------------------, Then your problem is ---------------------------------------and your
Program will take you to------------------------------
If you have to think very long before filing in the blanks, it probably means that you have not yet defined recovery for yourself. So there you stand at the ticket counter, not really sure where you want to go.
Take some time to think about what recovery means for you. Knowing what you want from recovery will help you to know what you want in stage two Recovery.
Recovery can be broken into 2 stages
Stage 1 and stage2
Stage I recovery—Breaking an addiction to drugs is enormously difficult. Breaking that primary addiction is getting clean (stage one)
In stage one of our recovery our focus is on staying clean, we attend our groups, talk with our support workers; attend regular meetings and share with our sponsor. Our lives have been saved; we begin to feel physically well and we’re beginning to feel settled as far as not using a day at a time.
Stage 2 recovery
In stage two recovery we may begin to loose our excitement about staying clean we may get vague feelings of boredom and the “fuck its” start to appear .We may start to swap our addictions: i.e. food, sex, gambling, relationships and we start to slide into depression, and apathy. Some people start to believe it’s not worth it and they go back to using their drug of choice still others remain in abstinence and continue to stay feeling miserable.
What can be done??
It is important to begin to understand that drugs were the solution (albeit not a very good one) not the problem. We all use our addictions as painkillers of this I’m sure we all agree. We do what we do because we are trying not to hurt.
Perhaps at the beginning we were just curious or looking for a little pleasure. But as the process slipped from abuse to dependency, the addiction continued because it medicated pain, not because it was interesting and fun. The lie at work in all addictions is that continued use will get rid of the hurt. The truth is it never does. What do we have when we take away the object of that addiction? A lot of pain.
And so many people find them selves at the other end of their addictive behaviours, better off, but not enjoying the happiness they hoped for
Dealing with the mountain of living is what Stage 2 recovery is all about? It is about getting on with life by facing those patterns, habits and attitudes that control your life and which, for perhaps the first time, you are clearheaded, sober, or emotionally sound enough to face. Stage 1 recovery is what makes it possible for a pilgrim to undertake the journey of stage 2 recovery
Stage 2 recovery is the rebuilding of the life that was saved in Stage 1.
After some people break their Stage I addiction they may find themselves pouring the same obsessive energy into some other endeavour. These objects of obsession then become just another way to hide from the real issue: themselves. Their limitations. Their self-defeating learned behaviours (character defects), which limit their capacity to function in healthy relationships. These learned coping skills block us from feeling all the good stuff life has on offer. Like healthy relationships where there is mutual respect and the freedom to be ourselves.
Learning our recovery. We can achieve this by learning ways to have a relationship with ourselves first. How do we achieve this: We begin by getting to know who we are.
How do I tick?
What are my values (my values not my parents, friends or partners)?
What principles do I believe are mine and are they based on fear?
Do I enjoy the same music as I did in using or am I changing and am I scared of this?
Why is it that I never seem to hold friendships /relationships?
What sort of people do I like?
Do I constantly sabotage opportunities?
Am plagued by self-defeating behaviours? I.e. negative self talk “your not Good enough “ Why would anyone want you anyway”? Or I could try that but….?
: We need to challenge ourselves and this can feel scary and uncomfortable. This is quite normal as any new or uncharted territory is frightening as we are not sure what well find! Most of us discover that the stuff we don’t like lurking around; is fear and pain; the very fear and pain that have contributed to our lack of peace and sense of okay ness about who we are. The origin of these can be traced back through our childhoods leaving us free to know that they were not our design and therefore not our responsibility to carry the burden any longer. It is important to access all the support you can while you embark on this journey. You will need to find a safe person with whom you can share all your knew discoveries and someone who will assist you in discarding the ones you no longer want. Some suggestions would be our support workers, therapists, sponsors, and of course a higher power of our own understanding. This journey can be exciting and it will be rewarding. For when we know who we are; then we know what we want and that’s got to be a good thing. In active addiction many of us were compelled to compromise ourselves driven by the force of obsession. Now that we are clean we are free to make choices based on the truth of who we are not what we thought we were.
Remember we don’t have to be gung ho about this journey. We are never going to ever achieve perfection. Rather we hope to discover what it means to be a human free from shame and other self-defeating thoughts relied on in time when the world we experienced was not a safe one. As we grow up in recovery we start to feel safer and so begins the journey a day at a time to the destination of “I’m ok living in my skin.
It really is ok to be me and even “I like what I see and know to be me “.
This is stage 2 recovery.
Stage 1 recovery is breaking the primary addiction.
Stage 2 recovery is dealing with all the underlying coping skills we have acquired in active addiction and childhood and we recognise these no longer serve us .We then begin the healing journey that takes us closer to ourselves and our higher power.