Recovery starts at the physical level.
But it is easy to forget this. Sometimes we can get so caught up in the other aspects of recovery, such as:
1) Spiritual growth
2) Relief from mental obsession
3) Networking with others in recovery
And so on. Now there is nothing wrong with those things necessarily. They are important for recovery too. But it pays to remember that recovery starts in the physical world. What do I mean by that?
I mean that recovery starts and ends with the physical world in mind. Our ultimate goal is to stop putting drugs and alcohol into our bodies. That’s a physical, real world activity that needs to become our main priority.
Not drinking. Not doing drugs. These are physical decisions. We decide not to pick up a can of beer and drink it. We decide not to pour the booze down out throat. It’s physical. This physical, real-world decision to not ingest drugs and alcohol is our number one priority in recovery. We make this decision at the mental level, but if it’s not carried out in terms of real abstinence in the real world, then all is lost.
Focusing on the physical as you progress in recovery
Our decision to not physically ingest drugs is just a start for us in recovery. As we progress, we can start applying this idea to other areas of our life. If we use the 3 strategies of creative recovery, one of them is simply: caring for self. This of course refers to our physical bodies as well as our spiritual, mental, and emotional health.
For many years in my early recovery, even thought I stayed clean, I basically ignored the physical aspect. This was a mistake that I eventually corrected. For example, I started exercising and eventually quit smoking cigarettes. These 2 decisions have made a huge impact on the quality of my recovery all by themselves.
When I first got clean and sober, I understood the importance of physical abstinence from drugs and alcohol, but I did not yet understand how other physical issues (such as exercise, nutrition, or quitting smoking) could affect my overall recovery. This has become more clear to me over time and now I see physical health as being part of the foundation for long term recovery.
The benefit of focusing on the physical
There is a saying in recovery circles: “You can’t think your way into good living. Instead, you have to live your way into good thinking.” The idea here is about taking action and doing some of the footwork necessary to grow and change in early recovery.
In other words, you can’t just sit around and think your way into a great life in recovery. You have to take action and start living this recovery thing.
The physical aspect of your recovery is a huge part of that (because it’s physical!). Start taking care of your body and treating it right in recovery. This of course starts with detoxing from the drugs and alcohol and getting all of those chemicals out of your body. But it goes further when you start taking a holistic approach and really caring for yourself in other ways by living healthier. This has a multiplying effect with other areas of your life, including your emotions, your mental status, and even your spirituality.
If you feel great physically then this will benefit other areas of your life. If you detox your body and start eating healthier and getting some exercise then this will have an impact in other areas. You’ll gain mental clarity. You’ll become more balanced emotionally. And as a result of these physical transformations, you will even find that you’ll grow spiritually as well. It’s all connected. Recovery is not just spiritual, it is holistic. Start treating your whole self as an addict in the same way that traditional recovery treats “the spiritual malady,” and you will start seeing some very powerful results.
This is the power of a holistic approach. It transforms your whole being.
So consider starting this transformation with the physical aspect. Follow the strategy of “caring for self,” and start treating yourself better in all areas of your life.