Addiction recovery can be broken down into five major questions that need to be answered, processed, and moved through for success. They are sequential and though the questions may sound simple, there are hidden land mines that can derail your recovery. Here are the questions that need ‘yes’ answers:
1. Do I have a problem?
This question might at first glance seem obvious, but it really is the key. If a person does not believe that they have a problem, then certainly, there is no need for treatment and life will continue on as always. This attitude can involve that frequently overused the word ‘denial’. The problems are evident to everyone around the person, but it is not clear to them at all. The hidden landmine in answering yes to this question, is that while you may be aware of a problem, have you defined it correctly? Hint: it is not the substance or behavior, but your reaction to, and continuation of it. For example, does your behavior trigger obsession and compulsion?
2. Do I want to do something about the problem?
Again, this question is not as obvious as it may first seem. Lots of people are aware that they have a problem with addiction yet continue to not do anything about them. A common attitude is that I can stop any time I want to, I am just not ready to stop, maybe tomorrow, or next year, or after the holidays.
3. Do I want to stop now?
If you can answer yes to the questions do I have a problem, and do I want to do something about it, the next question begging to be asked is… now? Is the time right? What is it that has now moved you to action? Most people are moved to action by a crisis that affects them personally and immediately. This crisis usually cuts through barriers of procrastination and denial. Examples may be divorce, jail time, or the imminent threat of losing a job. There are some people however, who simply get sick and tired of being sick and tired.
4. Am I my willing to establish a plan that will maximize my chances for success?
If we have established that a problem exists, we want to do something about it and the time is right, doesn’t it make sense to pursue the plan that will give us the best chance for success? Here is where many people go astray. It is essential to get qualified help and input in developing a personal plan that will give you the best chance for success. The plan I hear most often, that is almost a sure-fire method for failure is ‘I know what to do let me go do it.’ Another plan that has a near zero success rate is ‘I have made up my mind to quit so that’s a done deal,’ (using willpower alone). One tricky part about establishing a successful recovery plan is that there is no standardized plan will work for everybody. Professional input will really help.
5. Having established a workable plan, will I put that plan into action on a daily basis?
You can have the most wonderful recovery plan in the world, but it does you absolutely no good unless you implement it. This generally means moving forward and doing the next right thing. It is essential to build accountability into the execution of your program. A critical piece of information is that addiction recovery is a process not event. If you have been in treatment, recovery is not complete with the end of formal treatment. The changes that suggested need to be implemented throughout your life on a continual basis. Addiction recovery is a lifelong process of change.
Though these steps are a simplification of the addiction recovery process, answering yes to all five questions, and moving through positively through them all, will ensure that you are on the right road for addiction recovery.
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Tell your story! Pick up your Addiction Recovery Help Guide, over 100 pages of recovery tips, resources and links to enhance your life in recovery. Bill Urell MA.CAAP-II, is an addictions therapist at a leading residential treatment center. He teaches healthy lifestyles, life skills, self-help and self-improvement for holistic recovery. Visit our growing community at Addiction Recovery Basics.