So you got yourself clean and sober and now the fog is starting to lift and reality smacks you in the face:
This is your life. Sober.
Now, what are you going to do to maintain it?
This is the whole point of a recovery program, be it a religious based program, the 12 step program, a series of counseling and therapy sessions, or whatever. They all seek to do the same thing:
Prevent you from relapsing.
So which one is the best one? What is the best method of preventing relapse?
One size fits all?
Now obviously there are recovering addicts and alcoholics who succeed using different forms of relapse prevention. Some people follow a religious based program and they do extremely well with it and it transforms their life for the better and they never use drugs or alcohol again.
Other people will completely reject a religious based program and they will not become open to the idea even for a brief second. For them, maybe a different form of relapse prevention works better, even the spiritual based 12 step program perhaps.
And still other people are out there recovering who do not use religion or 12 step programs to prevent relapse. They find other ways to transform their lives.
So now you know: there is more than one way to live clean and sober in recovery. There is more than one way to prevent relapse. Blanket statements such as “every alcoholic has one hope in this world and that is the program of AA” are just dead wrong.
The best relapse prevention model that is unique to you is probably a mixture of several approaches, and will depend on your willingness to explore what works for you, and what does not work for you.
Think about that for a moment:
It is your responsibility to test out what works best for you in recovery.
This leads to 2 major suggestions:
* Don’t just blindly accept the first solution shoved down your throat, and
* Don’t just sit there. Get active, and start exploring your own growth in recovery.
Finding what works for you
What do you use to measure success in recovery?
Far and away the most important measure is continued abstinence. If you relapse, what you were doing was not working. Try something else. Relapse is the ultimate indicator that you need to modify your approach to recovery.
But let’s say that you manage to establish a few weeks or a few months of clean time, but you still don’t feel very confident in your recovery. What is another measure of success that you can use to gauge how well you are doing?
Positive daily action.
If someone says “what did you do for your recovery today?” and all you can say is “well, I didn’t drink or use drugs, but that is enough!” then I think you are actually hurting yourself in the long run.
If abstinence was all that was required, then we would not need programs, or self help groups, or rehabs, or therapists, or counselors, or whatever. If all it took was abstinence, then there would be no addicts or alcoholics.
But recovery demands more than mere abstinence. If all you can claim as positive action for each day is your sobriety, then you are on thin ice. You have to do more.
More positive action. More positive changes in your life that focus on personal growth.
I cannot tell you what your exact relapse prevention plan is, because everyone will be unique in this regard. But if you are not taking positive action every day, then you need to find a way to turn things around.
For example, you could:
* Help others in recovery.
* Attend meetings and share honestly.
* Attend religious groups and get involved with the community.
* Improve your education and learn more.
These are mostly just general actions you can take to give you an idea.
But really what you want to do is to figure out how you can grow personally, how you can improve your own life, and how you can use your special talents to help and empower others in the world. What are you good at doing? How can you best help others? Find a rewarding way to do that.
A good relapse prevention plan is based entirely on YOU taking action. What actions you take are subject to experimentation. You may have to explore for a while. But the key is that you do not sit idle, and expect your recovery to come to you.
No, you have to go create it for yourself.
If you follow someone else’s relapse prevention plan, then you cannot really complain if you are not getting the results that you want. Instead, take control of your own recovery, and start figuring out which path will lead to personal growth.
Take responsibility for your own success in recovery.