Stages of recovery: One of my readers writes in and asks: “I feel like I am stuck in my recovery. How can I start living the creative theory of recovery?”
Quick answer: In a nutshell, I lived in long term treatment as I transitioned into holistic recovery.
But I could probably expand on that a bit:
Ernie Larsen has great insight when he writes about “stage 2 recovery.” This is the idea that recovery is separated into at least 2 distinct stages, one where you are just getting sober and starting to learn how to live in recovery, and then the second stage that represents long term sobriety and continued growth.
Essentially, I tend to believe in Ernie’s teaching: that there are 2 stages in recovery. The first is that you have to break through your existing patterns of drinking and drug use and establish some level of short term sobriety. In other words, you have to find a way to get clean and sober long enough to the point where you can start living and thinking again. This is the first part of your journey. It is still possible to relapse further down the road, but that is where the creative theory of recovery comes into play.
The first 2 times I went to a treatment center, I did not make it past this initial stage, and I used drugs immediately after leaving treatment. For whatever reason, I just did not make it over the hump. The third time around, I believe I made it past this stage in a few short months by living in a long term treatment center. For me, long term treatment was my solution for stage one recovery. I couldn’t see it happening any other way….I was relatively young and had a whole host of friends that I used drugs and drank with, so I needed particularly drastic action in terms of getting “over this hump.”
Understand that for other people who are in different situations, long term treatment might not be necessary. For me it was. Other people might be able to do other things to get them over this hump. They might do this in a variety of different ways: attending daily AA meetings, being in jail for a few months, staying with supportive family in a safe environment, and so on. I’m not claiming to be an expert on getting people past this initial hump, because I think it will vary from person to person. I used long term treatment to get me there. You might need something else.
The key to achieving short term sobriety: overwhelming force
I’ve written about overwhelming force before. That’s because it is a crucial concept for early recovery.
Regardless of how you choose to get clean and sober, you need overwhelming force. Whatever your short term strategy is to get you through the first few months, you need to pursue it with every single ounce of energy and ambition that you can muster up. This is the whole key.
I would go so far as to argue that it doesn’t even matter what method or program you use in the beginning. It makes no difference. Seriously. All that matters is that you pour your heart into it. Give it everything you’ve got. Remember how heavily the odds are stacked against you and attack your addiction with raw determination. This is the whole secret to achieving short term sobriety. (Notice I said short term sobriety).
The whole point here is that you have to make it through this first stage before you can really start to apply the principles of holistic recovery. Just getting your foot in the door and getting a month or two of sobriety under your belt can be a huge challenge. For me, it was the challenge of a lifetime. Nothing I have ever done in life was harder.
But once you’ve got to this point, where do you want to go with your life? Once you’ve conquered this first stage, how do you achieve a life of holistic living? Enter the creative theory of recovery.
There is a tendency to underestimate the importance of holistic principles, because none of them directly affect our recovery. But if you want to have a rockin’ recovery over the long haul, you’re going to have to grow in all areas of your life…..