This is a guest post by Bill Urell in response to “Kitty’s” comment about exploring advanced recovery topics and wondering exactly what they were. I appreciate having Bill’s unique viewpoint on this, as he is both a professional in the field as well as a friend of mine.
I was in recovery for seven years before I got to the point of asking the question “Is this all there is?” I thought it simply stopping the drinking and drugging would guarantee happiness. That was not so. I did not know it but I was deep within the relapse cycle. I caught myself in time and started applying myself to be guiding the fire of my recovery program.
As a person in recovery, and also as an addiction professional, I wear two different hats. In generating a list of important topics as an addictions professional, I come up with a list is significantly different from that of someone new in recovery.
Once the basics of becoming abstinent from drugs and out all have been learned, in my experience, the most frequent area that people want to move on to is healing broken relationships. Before we heal a relationship we should know what a healthy relationship is. Click here for a healthy relationship defined in 25 words or less.
Before we get to the significant work of healing broken relationships there few preliminaries that have to be in place. There are lessons to be learned or tasks to be accomplished if you will. How about these:
- Finding a sense of purpose in life. How do I do it?
- Working on low self-esteem
- Isolation or loneliness
- Working on honesty
- Learning how to identify, own, and processing emotions
- Learning the roles of in addict, codependent, and enabler in a relationship
- Identifying dysfunctional and addictive relationships
- Setting boundaries and limits
I find it ironic that people who are new in recovery want to jump into healing relationships before they learn how to identify, own, and process their emotions. Given a little thought, isn’t the quality of our relationships dependent on how well we handle our own emotions?
Speaking of emotions, I firmly believe that it is not external “People, places, and things” that make us relapse, but rather our inability to handle the emotions these interactions generate. Here are some emotions that often need to be dealt with:
- Shame and/or guilt
- And/or abuse
- Anger and resentments
- Humility or grandiosity
It was not my intention to write a book here, and I only mentions a few “Advanced recovery issues” dealing with only relationships and emotions.
Just as additional food for thought, how about these topics:
- Relapse Prevention Planning
- Fun things to do in recovery
- Making friends
- Self advocacy and political advocacy for recovery
- Developing spirituality
- Men’s issues
- Women’s issues
In conclusion, I think it’s really important to realize that there are different phases of addiction recovery. Likewise, there are certain tasks and lessons to be learned in each different phase. It is important to proceed forward at the proper pace, not to skip issues that need to be dealt with, and not tackle issues for which we’re unprepared.
The 2 critical questions I asked myself when taking on a new issue is “How would I feel about myself if I do this, and how would I feel about myself if I do not do this?”
Also, “In terms of my recovery and relapse potential, is it safe to do this?”
Hopefully that sheds some light on the idea of advanced recovery topics. Feel free to drop by Bill’s website: Addiction Recovery Basics if you want to read more…..