Practice Key Steps
Recovering from addiction requires conscious thoughts and efforts over time. It isn’t as simple as detoxifying and then avoiding the addictive substance in question. Some anti-drug campaigns, such as various “say no to drugs” campaigns, simply don’t take into consideration the emotional, neurobiological, and psychological effects that result in the brain following drug or alcohol abuse. Indeed, recovering addicts and alcoholics may experience cravings for the drug years after they’ve been clean; addictions have that powerful of an influence over the brain and behavior. In the process of recovery, the addict must take a committed and proactive stance, which means practicing the key steps to recovery that he or she has learned in therapy.
Key Steps to Recovery
The following are some of the elements and steps involved in recovery, based on the model suggested by Alcoholic’s Anonymous (AA).
- Hope: Cultivating a sense of optimism and a positive outlook towards the future is an important step in the recovery process. The recovering addict must believe in his or her ability to persevere, overcome uncertainty, and bounce back in the face of setbacks. Hope may emerge gradually as the addict enters treatment and may fluctuate according to circumstances and feelings. Hope means accepting the possibility of future disappointments, failures, and pain without despairing.
- Secure Base: Some of the more practical aspects of living can also help individuals to overcome addiction. Adequate shelter and income, access to healthcare, and freedom from violence, persecution, or stigma are all important in the recovery process.
- Self: One’s sense of self may be lost when an addiction takes hold, particularly when the drug starts to take control over all aspects of the individual’s life. During treatment, the sense of self is gradually recovered. The self may be recovered through social re-integration, where experiences of acceptance, belonging, societal messages, and mutuality play a large role. However, it is important that recovering addicts engage with others in a way that is meaningful and safe, as opposed to being pressured to reengage.
- Nurturing Relationships: Individuals suffering from substance dependence need supportive relationships to aid them in the recovery process. Mental health professionals, such as therapists and counselors, can only offer so much in terms of support. Family, friends, and members of the community must offer the rest, standing by the individual throughout the recovery process. It is especially important that recovering addicts and alcoholics seek out likeminded individuals, or those who have experienced similar struggles. Relations should be reciprocal to actually validate the experiences of the sufferer.
- Empowerment & Inclusion: Feeling empowered and included also means building self-control, taking decisions into one’s own hands, challenging stigma, and seeking help when it is needed.
- Coping Strategies: The development of coping strategies is a crucial step in the recovery process. Coping strategies include self-management, self-help, medication, problem solving skills, psychotherapy, and psychotherapeutic techniques. Coping strategies involve pinpointing negative emotions when they arise and dealing with them in a positive and healthy way, for instance talking them over with a friend or therapist, journaling, listening to music, or engaging in a physical activity.
- Meaning: Gaining a sense of meaning in one’s life is an important step in the process of recovery. Meaning may come from a number of sources, for instance through family, a rewarding career, artistic expression, religion, or activism.