Reducing Your Dependency on Early Recovery Strategies

Reducing Your Dependency on Early Recovery Strategies


The idea is that we grow and progress in recovery.

If you truly are growing in your recovery, would it not be the case that your approach to living in recovery would change over time?

Think about the typical threat to the following to people in recovery:

1) Person A has 1 week clean and sober. Biggest threat: saying “screw it” and running out and relapsing immediately.  Finding a massive resentment and letting it control them.

2) Person B has 2 years clean and sober. Biggest threat: becoming stuck in group therapy or meetings as their only means of a solution, so that they are no longer growing personally.  They are no longer learning or pushing themselves to learn.  Secretly, they think they have recovery “figured out.”

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3) Person C has 10 years clean and sober. Biggest threat: becoming lazy and complacent in their routine.  Not challenging themselves enough.  Not reaching out to others enough.

Notice that there is a hierarchy of change here.  Person C has moved beyond the problems of person B, who has moved beyond the problems of person A.  In other words, our immediate threat in recovery is how to not use drugs and alcohol for a day at a time.  But we progress and grow and this becomes as bit more automatic for us.  Sure, it is still a threat, but in order to pick up and relapse at 10 years clean you would have to go through a process.  That process involves complacency setting in and your lack of action to fight against it.  So the threat changes as you go along.  It evolves to match your level of recovery.

This is why you have to keep growing continuously.  Your disease will always find a way to creep back into your life, regardless of what level of growth, learning, or spirituality you manage to attain.  We are always vulnerable to that slide back into relapse.  It is always a possibility.  The question is: how will the threat manifest itself at each stage of our recovery?

Therefore it makes sense that the strategies and tactics we used at 2 weeks clean will become less effective as we grow and progress in recovery.  We need to change and evolve if we are to make it in the long run.  Dependency on early recovery strategies becomes a liability over time, not a strength.

It is not that you need to rid yourself of the 12 step recovery program or overcome your dependence on AA meetings so that you can be “greater than” or somehow superior to others.  And it is not even that you need to reduce your meeting dependency so that you are stronger in your recovery.  Instead, you do these things so that you can live a life of freedom without having to live in constant fear of relapse (because you missed one to many AA meetings or something).

Once you see that your sobriety is no longer dependent on making AA meetings all the time, you allow yourself the freedom to grow in recovery as you were really meant to–to start exploring life in a deep and profound way.  To grow holistically instead of constantly staying stuck in the spiritual growth constantly toted at the meetings.

Someone once told me in a meeting that the solution was spiritual.  Then they proceeded to whine and moan about how they hate their life for the next ten minutes.  It was then that I realized that I could be spending my time differently–perhaps working with recovering addicts directly in some way, or finding other ways to progress in recovery.  And so I started to change my life.

If early recovery strategies are holding you back, then trade them in for new strategies.  Focus instead on:

1) Working with other addicts and alcoholics

2) Pushing yourself to learn new things and grow in new ways

3) Caring for yourself and taking positive actions to further your own health and development as a person


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