In my time working with those suffering from addiction I have seen what I determine to be patterns in a highly successful recovery process. These “stages” represent the chief turning points that a once afflicted individual passes through. These three critical stages are: Resentments, Relief, and Relapse Prevention.
Let’s explore each stage in some detail. An appreciation of these target points may help you when discussing the recovery process with a loved one in need. It is critical to note that there is no set time frame or speed that one stays at or passes through each of the following stages:
This is the earliest stage that a recovering individual passes through on the journey of recovery. Here, the individual begins to parse a history of real and/or perceived trauma. The individual in this stage will likely wrestle with their own victimization and their bitterness of realizing their past mistakes, their indiscretions, their violations of trust, etc. In this critical first stage, the recovering person is encouraged to be extremely honest with themselves and their therapist. A high quality treatment center will effectively support the recovering individual throughout this typically stressful process. In short, identifying resentments and beginning to address them in counseling sessions will help propel this recovering individual to the second critical stage.
Here the suffering individual begins to understand that there are things that they simply cannot control (i.e. the past or the future). They begin to come to terms, in therapy, with a realization that if anything, they can only “control” themselves. In recovery, this individual begins to accept what is beyond their reach; namely, their genetics, their age, and what others may think of them. This stage allows the individual in treatment to bring relief to him/herself. This relief allows the client to breathe, relax, and begin accepting that they should begin working on only that within their locus of control (i.e. themselves).
Indeed the “longest” stage of recovery is living a fulfilled, sober life. Here the recovering individual accepts “life on life’s terms”. The individual is no longer suffering; he/she has addressed past mistakes, past victimization, and has accepted that it is best to continue to monitor him/herself. The goal here is daily attention to relapse prevention. The lifesaving coping tools learned in a high quality residential treatment program are to be practiced daily. Mindful that relapse is preventable, the recovering individual is practicing self-monitoring, self-regulation, and self-preservation via the help of friends in recovery, continued therapy and an appreciation for life sober.
Chris McDuffie, MA., RRW
AToN Center 888-535-1516