The Practical Journey of Recovery from Substance Abuse

The Practical Journey of Recovery from Substance Abuse


What is the most practical method of recovery from substance abuse?  What is the best journey to addiction recovery, and how can a struggling addict really get there?

In practical terms, we want to examine what works the best for most people, with as little struggle as possible.  We might also consider what is most practical by that which adds the most value to our overall life outside of our recovery.  In other words, if we are miserable while staying clean and sober, that is not very practical.  But if we become happier as a result of our recovery strategies, then this is extremely effective.

Some recovery strategies seem like work (to me) and therefore do not fit into the idea of being part of my “practical journey.”  For example, attending an AA meeting every day might help me to stay clean and sober, but how practical is it really?  Does it enhance my life in other ways, do I take lessons from each meeting and apply them in my life, do I get real value out of the experience beyond just maintaining my sobriety?  For some people the answers to those questions will be “yes,” they do get a ton of practical value out of daily AA meetings.  After about 18 months in my own recovery, however, I was starting to question this for myself.  I could see that spending an hour in a meeting every day was–for me–a poor use of time.  I was staying sober, but what was I learning?  After 18 months of continuous meetings every day, I had stopped learning for the most part.  I got what I needed to get out of meetings.  I learned the lessons that they offered.

And so I moved on.

And the only real questions you can judge my actions are after leaving that 1 hour meeting every day are:

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1) What did I fill that 1 hour void with, other than an AA meeting?

2) Is my replacement for that meeting adding more value to my life while keeping me sober?

So the answers, for me, were that I started exercising for one thing.  I was running for an hour each day, and this was hugely beneficial to me, much more than what I ever expected.  So many people discount the power of vigorous exercise in their recovery.  These days I tend to run every other day, but I stay fit and I even run in full length marathons.  Exercise is hugely important to my recovery, and to the quality of my life in general.

The second thing I changed was that I started creating a message of recovery, and spreading that message.  I did this outside of meetings, and the medium I chose happened to be the internet.  But the key here was that I was creating something rather than just sitting in meetings every day.  There is a huge difference there and if you are actively creating something (anything!) then your life is going to improve in ways that you could not predict.

This happens with sponsorship as well, though that is not a route that I chose to pursue.  But I am not knocking AA or 12 step programs, because I see people in recovery who do create in their life through AA.  Sponsorship is an excellent example.  This is active recovery in my opinion, rather than showing up to daily meetings in order to maintain sobriety.

The journey of recovery becomes practical when you get active and start creating with purpose.  If you are actively working with others in recovery–either in AA or outside of it–then your recovery becomes that much more practical, in my opinion.


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