Insight into Long Term Recovery from Drug Addiction

Insight into Long Term Recovery from Drug Addiction

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Recovery from drug addiction is best defined by the new life that you create in place of the old one.  In other words, it is not so much about quitting the drugs themselves (although obviously this is necessary), but it is more about what you are going to replace all of that with.

Traditional recovery has a solution for this: you replace it with the 12 step program and the fellowship that goes along with it.  This works great for some people and not so well for others.  In fact, it actually fails for the majority of people who try it out.  But it is still a solid support system and it is widespread and it is free, so it is still worth a shot.  For most people, 12 step recovery makes a good starting point for their recovery.

The real test of long term recovery is in fighting complacency and not returning to your drug of choice some day.  This is tricky over long periods of time because complacency can set it and we can get a bit lazy in our defense against addiction.  It is easy to be lulled into a false sense of security while we are living in recovery, and we think that we have made enough growth and enough progress to be protected from relapse.  The truth is that we are never done growing and learning, and this is the whole key to long term recovery.

Smokin the Italia
Creative Commons License photo credit: guffeyGF

If you look at the successful examples of recovery–people who have stayed clean and sober for multiple years of recovery–they are always pushing themselves to grow and to learn new things. They are actively seeking new growth experiences.  This is the whole key to recovery.  If you become stagnant, you risk relapse.  If you keep pushing for growth, you remain protected from addiction.

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What happens in traditional recovery a lot is that people become complacent. They focus there is usually on spiritual growth, and so people limit themselves to how they will grow in recovery.  This is a huge mistake, and cuts people off from experiencing growth in other areas of their life.  For example, people who embrace vigorous daily exercise in their lives tend to do really, really well in long term recovery.  This is a hugely underestimated part of recovery that traditional programs completely overlook.  It is only through a mindset of holistic growth that people will see this as being truly beneficial to their sobriety.

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