The best addiction recovery program needs to do at least 2 things:
1) Direct the individual to take massive action in early recovery.
2) Encourage long term, holistic growth.
Let’s take a closer look at these two ideas and see how well recovery programs address them.
If you have ever been to a 12 step program, you know that they encourage massive action. Why? Because it works. Those who have found success in long term recovery did it by taking a TON of action up front. People who were lazy ended up relapsing early in the game. Even those who make a relatively modest effort at addiction recovery are going to end up relapsing.
If you frequent 12 step meetings, you know that they encourage people to do 90 meetings in 90 days, get a sponsor, study the big book, work the steps, and so on. They want action, action, action. And the people who find success in a 12 step program can always look back and say “yes, I did exactly what they told me to do. I took a lot of action based on their advice. I did not just sit around and wish that my life was different. I took action to actively change things.” Now they might not say it in those exact words, but if you ask 5 people in 12 step recovery if these things were true for them, all 5 of them will likely agree. Big action is the key in early recovery.
This is the key to long term recovery. What happened to taking action? Well action is still important, of course, but as the person progresses in recovery, something changes. Some people struggle with this change and they might do more of what was working in early recovery (massive action). This can be a mistake, though, because long term recovery is defined a bit differently.
Rather than massive action and a laser focus on recovery related support activities, long term recovery is about balance and living a healthy life. Many people get confused by this and think that they need more recovery. They don’t. They just need a higher quality recovery. And that means actually living the principles that they have been learning about in early recovery and achieving real balance in their life.
Holistic just means that the person is addressing their recovery as a “whole person.” That means spiritual growth, but also physical health, eliminating bad habits, proper nutrition, emotional balance, and so on. We need to eventually go beyond traditional recovery programs and explore this holistic universe of change.