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12 Tried and True Aspects of Successful Recovery

12 Tried and True Aspects of Successful Recovery


Even 12 steppers will tell you: there’s more than one way to recover from alcohol and drug addiction. Whether you use a 12 Step philosophy or another path, these 12 tried and true aspects of successful recovery can be the perfect supplement to what you’re already doing. In fact, if you read carefully, you shouldn’t be surprised by any of these; all the things are embraced by 12 Step fellowships as well as non-12 Step programs because each aspect is essential to being healthy and happy in life, in general, and not just when recovering from addiction.

#1. Purpose

People who find success at their recovery from addiction have larger purposes that surpass the temptation of alcohol and drugs, or smoking, or shopping, or random sex, or whatever it is that you’re addicted to.

It seems that more people quit their addictions, whether to heroin, alcohol, coffee, or nicotine, when, among other things, they or their partner becomes pregnant or their children becomes aware, these being the most common of purposes to quit.

#2. Empowerment

This might go against what some believe when it comes to the personal power department, especially self-control. But, the thing is, when the person is empowered, to know that they have the power to decide to change their behavior, they can then begin to become empowered. Anything that practices and engages the person’s self-control strengthens that ability.

Therefore, empowerment is a trainable and attainable skill.

#3. Values

When someone is in active addiction, they are living in such a way that is not in line with their personal values and this leads to the perpetuation of the cycle using, guilt, and shame.

Recognizing how your addiction affects what you value, then, can be a very powerful motivator for staying on the straight and narrow.

Motivational interviewing is a process often used in the addiction field. It is as a value-surfacing exercise, which seeks to get to the heart of what the person values. Questions like, “What is the most important thing in your life? How does your smoking, drinking, drug use, sexual acting out affect your spouse, children, religion, health, self-respect – or whatever the value to them is?”

#4. Mindfulness.

Mindfulness is a psychological concept that came by way of Buddhism. Mindfulness is the practice of being in and noticing the present, so that you can be aware of the forces that affect your thoughts and behaviors.

As with will power, practicing the visualization and realization of your true self improves your ability to be that person. This realization is, thus, both a divine gift and a pragmatic skill.

#5. Pause.

Addictions are marked by their sense of immediacy; you know, the whole instant gratification thing. Mindfulness is a way of gaining control over such cravings, which can seem unmanageable or even inevitable.

Learning to pause and breathe could be all that it takes for you to not pick up. But, it’s also important to remember that, even if you fall back into your addict-behavior (relapse), you don’t need to follow that step to its final, worst point. There are tons of different ways to meditate that allow you to reconnect with your core values—the real you beneath the surface of your addictive behaviors. Use this as a skill in re-establishing your balance in life, in general, not just when it comes to your addiction. Even if you should have a slip or a relapse, the next day is yours to start anew and re-commit.

#6. Community.

For the same reason that fellowships like AA and its related groups, are helpful, so is becoming a part of a community of some sort. And it doesn’t have to revolve around being in recovery from addiction.  Those who have experienced addiction have the right, and the ability, to search for larger, and less stigmatizing communities. Remember: You are always a full-fledged member of the human community. Therefore, whatever parts of you that are not related to your addiction deserve to be fostered in order to meet new people who share your interests and values.

The other main bonus to this is that these broader communities model and reinforce “normal” behavior of typical community members. Because their focus is not on addiction, members of these other communities engage in life pursuits in ways that don’t leave room for addictive behaviors. In this way, these community members will constantly remind through example you what such non-addicted, normalized behavior looks like.

#7. Engagement.

This aspect involves both community and mindfulness. Human beings are social beings, and belonging to a group is one way to be engaged with the world – a living-in-the-present kind of mindfulness that is the antithesis of addiction. When you are busy enjoying other activities and helping others, you can’t be engaged in addictive behavior; it’s impossible. Being so fully engaged in life means that all else that doesn’t really matter will fall away. Being involves in something positive and worthwhile will bring with it a sense of pride and self-fulfillment.

#8. Outlook.

Living in the present and accepting your part in this world is invaluable. Commit yourself to a life worth living in place of an addictive lifestyle. Call it what you will: optimism, acceptance, or faith. It is much healthier to the alternative: escapism.

#9. Skills.

There are many different types of intelligence – not just the higher-education kind. Having a specific skill and being competent is to be treasured and to be learned from and spread as much as possible to the other areas of your life.

#10. Rewards.

Drug addiction is not all that hard to understand, really. Drugs provide certain rewards to users, whether it’s relaxation, escape, having a sense of control, or even a feeling of self-value.

It’s important to get clear on what the rewards of not engaging in your addiction are: the ability to breathe when you quit smoking, to walk more easily when you lose weight, to wake up not feeling dope sick or hung-over, have the respect of others as well as self-respect, to save money for something you want, to have good relationships, and to be able to care for yourself, for example.

#11. Forgiveness.

All of us require forgiveness of some kind – especially self-forgiveness. And yet, addiction definitely makes that a point of contention. We don’t believe we deserve forgiveness. We certainly can’t forgive ourselves. In fact, research consistently shows that always beating yourself up will make it harder to change. As we know, guilt is a major relapse trigger. Therefore, self-forgiveness and self-tolerance will help you to do better in your plan of recovery.

#12. Love

Last but certainly not least is love. The desire to be loved and to do and be the best for your loved ones is probably the most motivating force on this list. In the end, all there love is all there is. Practicing unconditional love and compassion towards others – and self – will prove vastly beneficial in staying clean and sober.

 If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, help is available. There are several different approaches to treatment and the holistic approach – one that incorporates all or most of these  – has been found to be among the most beneficial when treating addiction and any other related mental health disorders. Please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588 today.

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