The 12 R’s of Recovery
Why are there R’s instead of some other letter? Recovery begins with an R, and that’s what this article is all about—how to keep on the path of recovery for the rest of your life.
You can’t go it alone. Recovery is a tough and complicated process, depending on the substance you’ve been abusing (alcohol, street and/or prescription drugs, polysubstance abuse), the length of time you’ve been addicted, physical and mental factors, your age, and other considerations. You may bounce back quickly if you haven’t been addicted for long, or it may take a considerable amount of time to go through the initial detoxification (removal of the chemical substances from your body). Recognize that you need the assistance of others during the recovery process. Trained professionals, your family, and your support groups are there to help you.
Recovery is a lifelong effort. It isn’t something that just happens and you can go on with your life as if it never occurred. You need to remember that recovery lasts forever. It only takes one time for you to “just have one” hit or drink to catapult you into relapse. Then you’ll have to start the whole process over again. Keep in mind that once in recovery, always in recovery.
During treatment for drugs and/or alcohol, you learned that you have inner strengths. In recovery, it’s important to realize that you have this strong determination and courage to continue with your recovery. You’ll need to be able to tap into these strengths and skills on an ongoing basis, so use them.
You have many reasons why you entered treatment in the first place. Keep this list handy so that you can register in your mind all the positives you hope to achieve: to live a full and productive life, to have healthy and loving relationships, to progress in your job and to improve your financial situation, to continue to achieve better health, and many more.
Of course, you’ll need to remove any temptations that still exist in your life. This includes complete removal of any alcohol or drugs still in your home, where you work, in your car, or other hiding places. It’s best to have someone else comb through these areas and conduct the removal, as you may not be strong enough to do so. The idea is to get rid of all these potential traps that could lure you back into using. If they’re not there, it’s easier to remain strong.
During treatment, through individual counseling, group therapy, and educational meetings, you learned specific coping skills and techniques to change your behavior. Reapply these skills and techniques to help keep you strong. As you use them, continually refine them to be even more effective.
It’s important to make time for yourself. You need a healthy body and mind, and that means you have to rearrange your schedule to include blocks of time to devote to hobbies, sports, relaxation, and being with friends.
Old so-called friends will undoubtedly call or arrive unannounced, trying to convince you to come out and party. They will be very convincing, even earnest, but they don’t have your best interests at heart. You need to renounce these negative relationships and get them out of your life forever. Until they, too, enter treatment and embrace recovery, they have no productive place in your life.
Strong and loving relationships are the rock of recovery. Of course, you can be successful in your recovery without them, but there’s nothing like a loving partner to reaffirm your commitment to staying clean and sober. If you don’t have a significant other, don’t despair. Love will come if you let it. Open your mind and your heart and be available to love. Love yourself first. You deserve it.
Following treatment and a return to your life, you’ll have a strong support network in your 12-step and other groups. These may include Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, and/or community support groups, groups affiliated with your church, and others. Rejoice in the support your network provides you. They are your lifeline to ongoing and successful recovery. They are people just like you who are embracing a new life.
While you go about your day-to-day life, it’s vital that you renew your commitment to your ongoing recovery. Tell yourself that you are a good person, that you have embraced a clean and sober life, and that you intend to fulfill your commitment to yourself by sticking to your resolve. Make your commitment renewal a mantra, like a prayer, that you say to yourself each morning and evening. Reinforcement helps by strengthening your inner core, reaffirming your resolve. It makes each day a little easier and each night more peaceful.
Finally, rejoice in the fact that you are in recovery. This is a significant and life-changing opportunity, and one that you did with the help of others who love and care about you. Every day from this day forward is a testament to your ongoing recovery. Celebrate this and renew your commitment to staying clean and sober.