" Modern" Alcohol and Drug Outpatient Treatment
An Overview Of The Recovery Process
Learning Where We're Going
Chemical dependency is a bio/psycho/social disorder that causes a person to lose control over use of alcohol or other drugs. This is called an addiction. This loss of control causes physical, psychological, social, and spiritual problems. The total person is affected.
Sobriety means living a meaningful and comfortable life without the need for alcohol or other drugs. In recovery, we move from a destructive dependence on alcohol or other drugs toward full physical, psychological, social, and spiritual health. When we stop using chemicals, we begin to heal the damage done to our bodies, minds, relationships, and spirit.
Sobriety is more than just healing the damage. It is living a lifestyle that promotes continued physical, psychological, social, and spiritual health.
is the goal of Recovery.... and the words are synonymous. (Recovery=Balance)
A persons ability to balance their lives in contestial situations without
the use of mind/mood altering substances determines their success in recovery.
Balance is the goal of Recovery.... and the words are synonymous. (Recovery=Balance) A persons ability to balance their lives in contestial situations without the use of mind/mood altering substances determines their success in recovery.
Abstinence from mood-altering chemicals is the first requirement toward sobriety. We have to do this before we can learn what to do to get and stay healthy in all areas of our lives.
Notice that I didnt say sobriety was abstinence from alcohol and drugs. Abstinence is the beginning of sobriety. It is the ticket to get into the theater, not the movie we are going to see.
We dont recover overnight. Recovery is a developmental process during which we go through a series of stages. The term developmental means to grow in stages or in steps. It is a gradual effort to learn new and progressively more complex skills. A developmental model of recovery means that we can grow from simple abstinence to a meaningful and comfortable sobriety. We confront new problems while abstinent and try to solve them. Sometimes we fail, and sometimes we succeed. Whatever the outcome, we learn from the experience and try again.
The skills necessary for long-term sobriety are all directed at finding meaning and purpose in life. Sobriety is a way of thinking, a way of acting, a way of relating to others. It is a philosophy of living. It requires the daily effort of working a recovery program.
The longer we stay sober, the more we need to know to maintain a sense of meaning, purpose, and comfort. The things we did to stay comfortable at thirty days of sobriety may no longer work for us at sixty days. It is as if the recovery process forces us to keep growing, learning, and changing.
Abstinence a necessary first step in learning what to do to get and stay healthy in all areas of life.
Sobriety abstinence plus a return to full physical, psychological, social, and spiritual health.
The passage toward sobriety is very clear. First, we stop using chemicals entirely. Then we begin to associate with others who want sobriety. We listen to others who have spent more time in the Twelve-Step program, and we practice what we learn in our day-to-day lives. We fail at some things and succeed at others, but we maintain a commitment to learn and grow no matter what happens. We keep what works for us and leave the rest. We talk honestly about what we tried and what happened. We learn from our experiences and share this new knowledge with others.
The Progressive Stages of Recovery
The developmental model of recovery (I will call it the DMR for short) is based upon a series of beliefs:
1. Recovery is a long-term process that is not easy.
2. Recovery requires total abstinence from alcohol and other drugs, plus active efforts toward personal growth.
3. There are underlying principles that govern the recovery process.
4. The better we understand these principles, the easier it will be for us to recover.
5. Understanding alone will not promote recovery; the new understanding must be put into action.
6. The actions that are necessary to produce full recovery can be clearly and accurately described as recovery tasks.
7. It is normal and natural to periodically get stuck on the road to recovery. It is not whether you get stuck that determines success or failure, but it is how you cope with the stuck point that counts.
To learn about recovery, it is helpful to divide the process into stages. We will be learning about six different stages of recovery, which I will refer to as
(1) Transition, (2) stabilization, (3) early recovery, (4) middle recovery, (5) late recovery, and (6) maintenance.
During the first recovery stage, transition, we recognize we have problems with chemicals, but we think we can solve them by learning how to control our use. This stage ends when we recognize we are not capable of control that we are powerless over alcohol or other drugs and we need to abstain to regain control of our lives. We dont yet know why we are out of control or how to stay sober; we just know we cannot continue the way we have been. In AA this is called being sick and tired of being sick and tired.
During the second stage, stabilization, we now know we have serious problems with alcohol and drug use and that we need to stop using completely, but we are unable to do so. During this time we recuperate from acute withdrawal (the stage of shakiness and confusion that we experience as our bodies detoxify) and from long-term or post-acute withdrawal (the period of time lasting from six to eighteen months when we feel like we are in a mental fog.) During this stage we learn how to stay away from one drink ( or one dose of drugs) one day at a time.
The third stage, early recovery, is a time of internal change. During early recovery we learn how to become comfortable abstinent. The physical compulsion to use chemicals is relieved, and we learn more about our addiction and how it has affected us. We also learn to overcome our feelings of shame, guilt, and remorse. We become capable of coping with our problems without chemical use. Early recovery ends when we are ready to begin practicing what we learned by straightening out other areas of our lives.
During middle recovery, the fourth stage, we learn how to repair this past damage and put balance in our lives. We learn that full recovery means practicing these principles [the sober living skills we learned in early recovery] in all of our affairs (in the real world of daily living). During middle recovery, we make it a priority to straighten out our relationships with people. We reevaluate our significant relationships including our relationships with family and friends and our careers. If we find we are unhappy in any of these areas, we admit it and make plans to do something about it. In AA terms, this means making amends. We acknowledge that we have done damage to other people. We become willing to take responsibility to do whatever possible to repair it. Middle recovery ends when we have a balanced and stable life.
During the fifth stage, late recovery, we focus on overcoming obstacles to healthy living that we may have learned as children, before our addiction even developed. Many chemically dependent people come from dysfunctional families. Because our parents may not have done a very good job at parenting, we may never have learned the skills necessary to be happy. Late recovery ends when we have accomplished three things:
· First, we recognize the problems we have as adults that were caused by growing up in a dysfunctional family.
· Second, we learn how to recover from the unresolved pain that was caused by growing up in a dysfunctional family.
· Finally, we learn how to solve current problems in spite of the obstacles caused by how we were raised.
The sixth and final stage is maintenance. During maintenance, we recognize we have a need for continued growth and development as people. We recognize that we can never safely use alcohol and other drugs, and we must practice a daily recovery program to keep addictive thinking from returning. We live in a way that allows us to enjoy the journey of life.
Many chemically dependent people ask, What are some things I might do that would cause a relapse? The answer is simple. You dont have to do anything. Stop using alcohol and other drugs, but continue to live your life the way you always have. Your disease will do the rest. It will trigger a series of automatic and habitual reactions to lifes problems that will create so much pain and discomfort that a return to chemical use will seem like a positive option.
Recovery means change. To change, we must have goals. To reach our goals, it helps to have an action plan or a step-by-step guide showing us what to do and how to do it.
Recovery is a process of growth that takes time. Going from stabilization to maintenance may require three to fifteen years, depending upon how sick you were when you started to recover, how hard and consistently you worked at your recovery plans, and the type of help you received from others.
No program or book contains a magic formula. They simply describes many things that people who have successfully recovered from chemical dependency have done. By understanding what others have done, it becomes possible to follow the advice often heard at AA meetings: If you want what we got, do what we did. Please accept our descriptions in the spirit that they are offered. It is my intent to share the courage, strength, and hope of hundreds of recovering alcoholics.
Recognizing Our Teachable Moments
There was once a student who couldnt understand the solution to a complex puzzle. He went to a wise old man for instruction. After the wise old man made several attempts to explain the puzzle, the student still couldnt grasp the principle. His teacher comforted him by saying: We each have our own teachable moments. When we are ready to understand something, the understanding comes. If you cannot solve the problem now, turn your attention to a different and easier problem that will prepare you to solve the more complex problem.
I hope the ideas espoused in this article will lead you to your teachable moment. It is meant to help you determine where you are in your recovery process and to help you set some realistic goals for further growth.
When we review each stage of the DMR, we will be looking at the Steps of AA that correspond to that stage. We will also be looking at a series of recovery tasks that chemical dependency counselors developed to support our AA program. Its important to remember that each task is completed on two levels. The first is on the level of experience, on which we have experienced and felt the real need for the task. The second is on the level of conscious understanding, on which we are able to describe and explain to others, what these Steps or tasks are all about.
At first we may be unable to explain what we are experiencing. We lack the words or the language of sobriety to fully understand what has happened. But because people who are more knowledgeable in recovery than we are can guide us, we follow directions and things begin to make sense.
of this are exerpted from the book: "Passages
Parts of this are exerpted from the book: "Passages through Recovery"
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