Every journey, I suppose, has its starts and stops and ups and downs. Even the most successful recovery is not completely linear. There are some setbacks and delays along the way. Yet, there also seems to be occasional breakthroughs, like a jump to light speed, that propel you far ahead in a flash. I want to talk to you today about three import breakthroughs you can experience in your recovery journey.
1. Acceptance of the Problem
This is the first real breakthrough in recovery. It moves a person from the trap of addiction toward the desire to change. This breakthrough acknowledges the consequences of a substance use disorder including damage to relationships, emotional pain, financial problems, housing difficulties and occupational complications. Also, there is acknowledgement that the addiction is an illness that at least on some level requires treatment. Acceptance sets recovery in motion.
2. Admission that Recovery is a Life-long Journey
The second breakthrough builds upon the first. After accepting the substance use disorder is a problem, there is awareness that the solution requires long-term change in thinking and acting. Lifestyle changes are necessary to remain in recovery. People who are successful make changes in social contacts, occupation, and housing. This is not as much a sacrifice, focusing on what is being given up, as it is an investment in a new life. To gain long term recovery requires small, everyday changes in behavior that yields huge dividends in the future.
3. Behavior Change Requires Character Change
Often, temporary change in behavior comes from external forces. You may be able to make some short-term gains because a treatment team is monitoring your behavior, or a probation officer is watching.
But lasting change comes from internal changes of attitude and thought. You cannot maintain a new lifestyle with an old mindset. The third recovery breakthrough occurs when you make character changes such as becoming more honest, diligent, responsible, and considerate of others. You must take care of yourself without becoming self-centered and self-focused. As you recognize negative and self-defeating views, you can replace them with positive thoughts and beliefs. Your new optimistic attitude will quickly begin to produce positive recovery behaviors. Changes in character produce life-long changes in behavior.
Recovery is a Journey. Enjoy the Ride!