Creative recovery completely leapfrogs traditional recovery programs because creative recovery is:
1) Action based – instead of being a reaction-based program
2) Holistic – instead of limiting itself to the spiritual dimension
3) Growth-oriented – there is a distinct push for personal growth outside the boundaries of traditional recovery programs.
Let’s take a closer look at the advantages:
Some programs focus on relapse prevention techniques that basically amount to: “Figure out what you’re going to do if you have a trigger or urge to use drugs, and have a plan in place for each trigger or urge. Find tools that you can use to deal with this stuff.”
In my opinion this is not an ideal strategy because when life smacks you in the face (which it eventually will, we all have a bad day at some point) then all of these relapse prevention tools become nonsense. Yes it is easy enough to pick up the phone and call another recovering addict or go to a meeting in most cases, but there will come a time in every person’s recovery when these options are not available.
Even the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous talks about this phenomenon. The book states that every person will encounter a situation at some point where they have no defense against the first drink and ultimately that defense must come from within, or from their higher power, or from their spirituality.
The solution, therefore, is not to figure out contingency plans for certain triggers, because there are far too many unique situations out there and you can never predict them all. Instead the plan should be to build up an awesome life in recovery and thus boost your self esteem to a safe level.
And why will this help prevent relapse?
Because relapse has a cost. We know this when we pick up the first drink.
If the cost is too high, then we will not take the drink.
For me, today, the cost of drinking is way too high because I value myself and my life so much more than I used to. This is the preventative power of self esteem. This is why self esteem is needed to prevent those unforeseeable temptations. You must build up your sense of self worth in recovery to the point where you are protected from throwing it all away.
If you work a reaction-based program then you’re not actively creating a new life and building up your self esteem.
Holistic in nature and growth oriented
There are people who do work a holistic program while being in traditional recovery programs but holism is not usually the focus. Instead, spirituality and spiritual growth is the focus. This is a mistake in my opinion because I believe that spirituality is but one part of a greater whole, and to focus exclusively on it is to limit your growth in other areas.
The creative theory of recovery starts out with an emphasis on the physical:
1) Physical abstinence from drugs and alcohol
2) Importance of overall health
From there you can start to explore other areas of growth in recovery as you now have a solid baseline for recovery. This would include growth in other areas of your life such as:
1) Emotional balance
3) Learning and education
4) Exploring spirituality
And so on. The point is that a tight spiritual focus (as in traditional recovery) can actually be a limiting factor. We need to approach recovery from multiple angles. This only makes sense as our addiction ravaged our entire life and affected every area of it…so any recovery program we are working needs to address all of these things as well.
Now obviously when you consider these different areas of your life you want to push yourself to grow in them. I have found the best way to do that is through setting goals and then working to achieve those goals.