Which Do We Need in Recovery – a Laser Focus or More...

Which Do We Need in Recovery – a Laser Focus or More of a Balance?


There are probably always going to be different answers to a question like this, but let me just explain what worked for me in my recovery.

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I like to think of recovery in at least 2 separate stages.  This is just a mental idea that can help you to visualize recovery concepts.  Of course in the real world, recovery is just simply recovery.  There are no clear stages outlined to it in real life!  These are just mental constructs that we use to help us with ideas.

In early recovery, I believe that I benefited from having focus.  I also believe that I needed to have that focus at the expense of exploring balance.  For example, I lived in a long term treatment center for the first 20 months of my recovery.  I lived and breathed recovery for that entire time, and focused very heavily on exploring recovery concepts, spirituality, and learning how to live a new life.  In fact, the focus was so strong at this point that really it seemed like I was focused almost too heavily on learning and not enough on action and doing things.

Another thing that I remember in early recovery was how I reacted to suggestions to seek balance.  For example, someone might suggest in a meeting or something that the key to recovery was to achieve balance in our lives, and I would secretly scoff at the idea…..believing instead that the secret was to ignore balance and focus all of our efforts on recovery and spirituality.  In fact, during my first two weeks of recovery when I was in a treatment center, there was a lecture on “balance in recovery” and I thought it was ridiculous and did not apply to me.  And maybe that is the truth, especially for those in early recovery–focus should take precedence over balance.

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Now as I progressed in my recovery and started to learn some new things and have some different experiences, this whole “balance” thing started to creep into my life.  Looking back, I can see that I had a fear of losing my obsessive focus, and I though that allowing some balance and variety into my life might cause me to relapse.  This turned out to be false, and achieving some level of balance has turned out to be a very healthy thing for me today.

I like to talk about the holistic approach to recovery and I think that holism is a key to long term sobriety.  If you are just getting clean and sober though, a laser focus on not picking up a drink or a drug and concentrating on all things recovery will probably serve you well.  Certainly many who have relapsed in early recovery could say that they did not focus heavily enough on recovery.  I also believe the strategy of overwhelming force helps validate these ideas.

Early recovery = focus.

Long term recovery = balance.


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