The creative theory of recovery needs refinement. I am still sorting out the actual principles that have kept me clean and sober for 7+ years now.
I am starting to think a more apt name for this recovery philosophy is “The holistic theory of recovery.” The names seem interchangeable, as most holistic actions of self-improvement are creative in nature (meaning that the focus in on creating with positive action rather than an act of elimination).
All of the principles in the creative/holistic theory can be grouped into two broad categories:
1) Individual growth
2) Relationships / networking
Of course, within each category, there are a number of subcategories that are crucial for recovery. This is a totally integrated approach that will work for you whether you have two weeks sober or 22 years in recovery. They are universal principles that can guide anyone in how to grow in recovery. Let’s take a look at them.
Individual growth: learning and caring for self
This overall strategy is about caring for your self, in every way. Are you taking care of your body? Your emotional balance? And so on.
It’s not always necessary to analyze a situation in detail. Instead, you can simply ask yourself: “Is this decision going to help me or hurt me? Is this really wha’t best for my well being?”
Physical development and health – Now obviously we need to prioritize a bit here, because sometimes our decisions will produce growth in one area of our lives while simultaneously taking away from another area. In the holistic approach, sobriety starts in the physical realm, and therefore you should place the highest level of importance on your physical sobriety. But this principle also includes your physical health as well, so you might consider things such as diet, exercise, and quitting smoking to benefit your long term sobriety.
Spiritual growth– Your spiritual self is the second priority, as it is the defining framework for how you see the world and helps to shape your attitudes and mindset. Some people confuse spirituality as being more important than physical health and physical sobriety. Those people inevitably relapse. First things first. Staying sober has to be number one, or you will lose your connection to a higher power anyway.
Emotional balance – If you are flying off the handle in recovery then you stand a higher chance of relapsing. Smoothing out the emotional roller coaster should be a priority. This is not to say you should deny all your emotions; instead, you should feel them as they are and work through them without letting them drive you to bad decisions. This is easier said than done, of course, and requires conscious effort on your part, while possibly enlisting the help of others.
Mental development– Learning how to stay clean and sober is limited by your overall ability to learn. Sharpening your mental acuity and challenging your mind to take on new knowledge will only strengthen your recovery in the long run, as you learn new strategies and holistic approaches for sobriety.
Relationships and networking
The other part of the holistic approach looks towards relationships with others.
There is a strong need to connect with like-minded people, especially in early recovery. There are a few reasons for the importance of this recovery network:
1) Support – you can help each other out through the tough times, and celebrate your victories as well
2) Learning – you will learn more about recovery by connecting with a variety of people and assimilating different viewpoints
3) Replacement – some of us need to replace the old drinking buddies with more positive influences
The holistic theory of recovery has an approach to relationships that is characterized by honest communication at the level of feelings. This is different from communicating our opinions, in that instead of hurling insults during an argument we instead communicate our primary feelings. You can read more about this important technique right here.