It’s one thing to look my life and describe it as “the creative theory of recovery.” That’s quite an easy thing to do. But to explain how I arrived here is another thing entirely. It might be difficult to draw an accurate road map for the transition from a life full of fear and suffering, to the relatively joyful experience of true growth in recovery.
The creative theory of recovery is the goal, it is the path we are trying to take. But we need to understand the processes involved with getting there.
The list that follows is part of the brainstorming session. We are trying to pin down a comprehensive list of the processes that people go through in recovery. Here is a list of some of the processes that I have experienced in getting to a successful life in recovery:
1) Make a decision to quit – a key concept in any recovery program. You have to make a decision to recover. Period. No way around it. Without the decision, nothing changes.
2) Abstinence / Detox – The majority of recovery programs focus on abstinence, although some preach moderation. I believe moderation will not really work for the true addict or alcoholic. Therefore, an initial detox followed by complete abstinence from drugs and alcohol is the foundation for recovery.
3) Using overwhelming force – nearly everyone underestimates (at first) the level of commitment and dedication that overcoming addiction really takes. Therefore, the concept of using overwhelming force to achieve sobriety is critical.
4) For some, a situational change is critical – Long term treatment, new friends, how time is spent, a drastic break in patterns that led to use, and so on. This does not mean you have to move, or quit your job, or find all new friends (necessarily). It does mean, however, that large parts of your life situation probably do need to change in order for you to recover. For example, I was using drugs and alcohol at my workplace with all of my coworkers, so that was one thing that had to go. This might be different for others. What I’m saying here is that we are all going to require some major situational changes, depending on our own circumstances. Some erroneously believe that if they just move to a new city they will be able to stay sober. This doesn’t work, of course, but major situational changes might still be necessary in order to recover.
5) A push for personal growth – Those who do not make a conscious decision to try to maintain personal growth in recovery tend to relapse. Sink or swim.
6) Emotional maturing – This was necessary for me, but I’m not yet sure if it is necessary for all addicts in recovery. I had to learn how to communicate honestly at an emotional level in order to stay sober. My old method of coping with emotional turmoil was to self-medicate. Maturing emotionally is a learning process.
7) Networking with others, need for confrontation and feedback. “We are each others eyes and ears.”
8) Learning communication skills, especially at the level of feelings. Honesty. Becoming vulnerable. Building trust.
9) Practicing gratitude
Some might suspect that these processes are merely a rip off of the twelve steps. I would challenge that by saying to have a deeper look at these processes and re-examine what the 12 steps actually say. While some of these concepts and processes might match up with a 12 step equivalent, there are several differences, as well as some things that the 12 step model does not specifically address (such as gratitude or abstinence).
Does anyone have any other processes that they went through in their recovery? Let us know about it in the comments below….