What it Takes to Be a Success in Recovery

“Courage to start and willingness to keep everlasting at it are requisites for success.” – Alonzo Newton Benn Everyone has an idea of what it takes to be a success. This also applies to what it takes to be a success in recovery. There is no one way that is better than another, however, so it’s often valuable to think of success in recovery as the sum total of many things. Here we look at two ingredients that may contribute to our success in recovery. The first is courage. We know about courage, even though we may not ascribe what we’ve done to get to this point in our recovery as courage. It is courage, nonetheless. How else could we have overcome our addiction? We went through the scary and uncertain time of detoxification. That certainly took courage. Then we encountered a lot of self-doubt and fear during the treatment process, when we learned about the disease of addiction and began to find out about strategies and techniques to deal with cravings and urges. That took courage as well. Now, when we’re in recovery, we face challenges every day. Some are small challenges that we can easily overcome, while others tend to throw us a curve ball. We aren’t sure what to do at first. Dealing with those difficult situations takes courage. The second ingredient to being a success in recovery is a willingness to keep at it. Once again, this seems to be an obvious one. Yet, how often do we find that we come so far only to quit at the last minute, feeling either that we can’t go on or that we don’t need to do anything more for our recovery? When we stop doing what we’ve got on our recovery plan, we are just treading water. If a big wave comes, we may very well go under. We have to keep up our courage and be willing to keep on going. Sure, we may get tired. We may feel like our limbs are just going to give out. But we keep on going anyway because we know the goal is worth it. We also know that recovery is not a race. There is not time clock or someone watching on the sidelines telling us that we have to hurry up. Each of us has our own pace of recovery, just as we each have our own ways of achieving the goals we’ve set for ourselves. Maybe we think that courage and the willingness to keep at it are only important in the beginning of recovery, when we’re just getting used to the idea and the process of doing what it takes to maintain our sobriety. If we think that, however, we’re limiting ourselves and how far we’ll be able to progress. It all goes back to the treading water metaphor. At any time, some unforeseen circumstance, some individual from our past, a set-back financially, losing our job, a health crisis or something that happens with our loved ones, can overwhelm us. But when we approach our lives with courage and a willingness to keep at it, we will be able to figure out a way around difficulties, to move past them, and still maintain our sobriety. Long-timers in recovery may get to a point where they feel they’ve done it all. They’ve reached a plateau and don’t push themselves any longer. But the truth is that as long as we’re alive, there are new opportunities that await us. If we have the courage to embrace something new and the willingness to keep at it, it doesn’t matter if we’re newly sober or have been in effective recovery for many years, we will continue to make strides in recovery. Remember that every day is a new day. Every day we are blessed with new opportunities to learn and grow. Face each day with courage and be willing to keep doing what it takes and we will be a success in recovery.

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