Thursday, April 7, 2016

Recovery is a Process

Most people don't realize that it's a journey. The goal of recovery is not some mythical state of being "Recovered", but to just stay in Recovery. Keep moving forward.

It doesn't matter what you are in recovery for; Mental Disorders, Addiction, Abuse Issues, you name it. The goal is change and change never ends.

Steps to Recovery

The first step is knowing and accepting that something is a problem in your life and needs to be different. 
Some would argue that this is a Pre-Recovery step and you aren't really in recovery until you are making efforts to make positive changes in your life. I think it's important to note than most people have issues that they don't see as a problem in their life. Therefore, they don't identify it as a problem and have no incentive to change. Some of these people, however, see the potential of a future problem and begin making changes without ever labeling it a problem, just to avoid the possibility that it might one day become one. Personally, that makes it make sense to not refer to this as a step in active recovery. You get to choose for yourself if this is your first step, or merely the planning stages before you start marking steps.

Next is an intermission that lasts a varied amount of time. Here you face this realization and come to terms with what it means for you. Some people wallow here for quite some time, some just accept it as fact and jump to the next step. Some people have to fulfill a need to discover "why" this is a problem for them before they can begin to make efforts to change things about their life. The effort in this step is put towards understanding the issue, and perhaps not making any changes yet. Some people are still in this step when they start the next simultaneously. A trained professional is very helpful in sorting through everything and finding information for you to educate yourself on your issues.

Now you choose what direction to go. What changes are needed, and how to go about making them. Your life can become quite hectic and have extra drama in this step and the next one. It's important to have positive social support during this time. This is the step they talk about when they say things like "it's going to get worse before it gets better." When you first even start talking about making changes, it is uncomfortable and unknown and you may feel insecure. Add to it that most people do not like change, and anyone involved in the issues in your life may react negatively to you desiring change.

Then comes effort. This step is where you implement the changes you want to make. It's hard and feels "wrong" because it's new. There will be lots of things popping up you never considered that are affected by the changes, and you get to deal with them. You may discover secondary issues you need to also work on at any time in the process, but especially here because when you make positive changes, the other negatives aren't hidden anymore and grab your attention.

Then comes your proof. Here you notice the effects the changes have made in your life. You may find some choices aren't working the way you thought they would, or that you need to make other changes and make different plans of action.

Eventually you get to a satisfactory level in your quality of life.

Then comes maintenance. You have to continue choosing to move forward and not backward or getting stuck.  This is your goal. To maintain your new habits. It isn't guaranteed that you won't ever go back or end up stepping into a new version of your old problems and have to start the process over.

Remember your goal should be getting to a point where you think some version of "I am truly happy/content to continue on as I am now."

Recovery is personal

It's a personal choice. You can't make someone do it. Forced recovery lasts only until the control is lifted. If the person did not choose it, and does not want to change, as soon as they are free to make their own decisions they will go back. It is possible for a recovery to transition from forced to chosen, but the choice tends to happen during the control period, or after a relapse once the person has freedom to choose and makes to conscious choice to take responsibility for their recovery themselves.. Again, they have to want to make changes.

Recovery is unique

Everyone is different and what works for one does not work for everyone. Different people have different needs and perhaps added considerations to take in account. A prime example is religion. Some people are very religious and use it in their recovery and find it to be necessary or even essential to use their religious beliefs in their recovery. Others don't put as much weight or meaning in that part of their life and focus there doesn't have the same effect. Still others have a non-religious view on life and a focus on religion may actually be detrimental to their recovery. Recovery has to be tailored to the specific person and their needs to be successful.

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