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Through each stage of addiction recovery there are lessons to be learned, growth opportunities, and tasks that must be completed before moving to the next stage of the addiction recovery plan. A defining characteristic of addiction is that a person loses control over the use of alcohol and drugs. This causes negative consequences in their lives, psychologically, physically, spiritually, and in relationships. A large part of addiction recovery is about systematically gaining back control of those areas of one’s life, while admitting a lack of control over the drugs and alcohol. Here are the three stages of recovery:
Addiction recovery plan in an addiction recovery program
Early Recovery: The primary lesson to be learned in early recovery is deceivingly simple and that is the importance of abstinence from all mood altering drugs, including alcohol. It is only through removing the substance from the body, in giving the brain a chance to heal, that you have a chance of regaining normalcy in your life. In early recovery, you must gain understanding of addiction, begin to form a social support network, and work on a relapse prevention plan. All these activities are directed toward the goal of gaining the skills necessary to maintain abstinence over drugs and alcohol.
Middle Recovery: In the middle stage of recovery you continue to hone the skills necessary to maintain abstinence. The focus tends to be on vigilance and avoiding a slide into complacency. Here you need to learn lessons that may have been lost, forgotten, or never learned. It is important to examine and start to identify and repair damages caused by addiction and move toward attaining a balanced lifestyle. If an issue needs to be addressed, we admit it and take some action to make it right. Here is the time to start healing relationships with one’s self, family, higher power and the community at large. A good indicator that the necessary lessons have been learned and goals have been met in middle recovery is when one feels ‘balanced’ within and starts to be at peace the world about them.
Late Stage Recovery: Once you have achieved stability and security in recovery, it may be time to deal with ‘underlying issues.’ These may be issues that are deeply ingrained, perhaps reaching back into childhood. The idea is that if you work on and process issues that have caused unease and turbulence in your life, that work undermines the need to seek relief from these problems through drugs and alcohol. Some issues that are commonly addressed in a later phase of recovery might be abuse, low self-esteem, abandonment, or recognition of a dysfunctional family system. It is suggested that these “core issues” be reopened only when you are stable in recovery, and preferably with professional support.
Progression through phases of recovery depends more on accomplishing and learning the specific lessons, rather than an accumulation of time abstinent from drugs and alcohol. The final phase of recovery is a growth and continuation phase that really never ends. It is highly suggested that wherever one is in recovery, education should continue.
One of the first challenges in getting help for yourself or a loved one, is knowing where to start. We can help with a free assessment and someone to talk with right now.