In order to help your clients navigate successful, long-term recovery, we’ve developed ten core principles of recovery. Like using a map, these principles help set good goals, avoid some mistakes, and dodge unnecessary problems. And of course, following that map helps you accomplish a specific, desired result. Although many of our clients are willing to pursue long-term recovery, they lack the direction, guidance, and skill necessary to sustain it. So what separates the successful from the unsuccessful? Those who are successful deliberately use the resources, wisdom, and support to plan their work and work their plan. Long-term recovery is not attained haphazardly; successful change requires intentional action. Here are the necessary key pieces for successful recovery.
- Honestly acknowledge the severity of your emotional or substance use disorder
- Take full, personal responsibility to live a life of recovery
- Actively challenge and change your thinking
- Develop positive life-changing character traits
- Repair damaged relationships
- Intentionally manage your attitude and disposition
- Establish constructive recovery connections
- Increase the quality of your emotional control
- Plan and work your relapse prevention strategy
- Cultivate a spirit of resilience
1. Honestly acknowledge the severity of your emotional or substance use disorder
The absolutely necessary starting point of any successful recovery is to accept the existence and the extent of the problems you face. Take a fierce, straightforward inventory, recognizing how substance use disorders have infiltrated, influenced, and damaged your life.
2. Take full, personal responsibility to live a life of recovery
Doing the work of recovery can only be accomplished through your efforts and by your actions. Recovery is yours alone. No one can make you do it; and no one can do it for you. What you choose and what you decide is what will determine your level of success.
3. Actively challenge and change your thinking
Successful recovery is possible. In order to keep past destructive patterns from continuing into the future, you have to change the way you are presently thinking. Identifying and changing the lies you tell yourself allows you to change your feelings and actions as you move forward. A strong recovery is achieved by changing the way you use or drink, as you change the way you believe and think.
4. Develop positive life-changing character traits
A lasting recovery is made possible by changing key qualities and characteristics of yourself, not by merely changing a few behaviors. Character transformation is rarely instantaneous. Be willing to systematically develop positive, personal traits over time. As you do, you will strengthen your resolve, establish new-found hope, and obtain the lasting recovery you desire.
5. Repair damaged relationships
Close, personal, and deeply connected relationships do the most to bring happiness and contentment in both your life and recovery program. The hurts caused by others from your past are best addressed though the process of forgiveness, even when it is difficult. The way to move forward into the future with someone you have hurt is often only made possible by rebuilding trust. Trust is rebuilt by demonstrating positive behavior changes over time. Both forgiveness and rebuilding trust must be used and present in order to repair relational damage. Although difficult, establishing meaningful relationships is extremely valuable and worth the effort.
6. Intentionally manage your attitude and disposition
Being intentional means to deliberately focus on key areas of life. Make your actions, and your attitude, purposeful and not random or haphazard. Be deliberate in what you do and in the way you live. Choose to control your mood, outlook, and temperament. Use positive self-talk to challenge your old, pessimistic, and negative scripts. As you practice, you will become increasingly more upbeat, positive, and optimistic.
7. Establish constructive recovery connections
People who are active in addiction are often coming from environments that allow, and even encourage, their addictive patterns. A strong recovery requires good emotional, spiritual, and relational support. A strong, sober support network is more often built than it is found. Be willing to be held accountable. It is important for you to seek encouragement, develop friendships, accept correction, navigate conflicts, and listen to advice. Your support network is being built as you practice these skills.
8. Increase the quality of your emotional control
Mental health and substance use disorders interact with each other and commonly increase the severity of both. Treatment must address both the substance abuse and the underlying mental health issues; set up a plan to manage each of these long-term. Interventions should be specifically designed to manage anxiety, regulate mood, increase overall emotional stability, and identify and reduce symptoms of depression. Medication and counseling help manage symptoms of co-occurring disorders better than either one alone and often become key pieces of long-term recovery.
9. Plan and work your relapse prevention strategy
Most people in recovery still have strong desires to use again. Relapse is the return to using drugs or alcohol after a period of being substance free. Because relapse is both damaging and wearisome to clients and their families, temptations must be planned for and managed strategically. Understanding relapse triggers, using structure to reduce cravings, finding adequate support, creating a positive living environment, consistently managing mental health issues, and changing the way you think, all become important prevention strategies.
10. Cultivate a spirit of resilience
Life-long recovery is not always a linear process. Be quick to indentify vulnerabilities, potential problems, temptations, and triggers for relapse. Being aware of these helps you to reach out and get the support you need. Getting stronger and making progress does not mean being perfect. As you work your recovery plan, you are establishing perseverance to withstand and defeat temptation when it comes. The dividends you reap are directly related to the investment you make. Rather than hoping temptations never come, diligently prepare yourself for when they do. You will grow in perseverance, diligence, and resilience as you continue your recovery plan.
Journey to Recovery is founded on the ten core principles for successful recovery. For clients with substance use disorders, adhering to these principles establishes enduring and life-long changes. Following these principles and developing skills helps when navigating rocky terrain filled with hazards, pitfalls, and difficulties. Using these ten principles will greatly improve the likelihood of living life-long recovery.
Recovery is a journey. Enjoy the ride!