What Does Being in Recovery Mean
About 19.7 million Americans battle some form of substance abuse. 10% of American adults admit that they are in recovery. Being in recovery does not just mean being sober, sobriety is the first step in recovery. Recovery can have many definitions when it comes to substance abuse, but one common point is that there is a positive change in the person. It is not just the abstinence from drug and alcohol use. The term recovery tends to be subjective depending on who you ask.
What is Recovery?
Recovery was at one time a concept associated completely with 12 step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous. In the beginning, it meant just abstinence. With the growing need for addiction treatment, the concept of what recovery is has expanded. It now more applies to a way of life. SAMSHA defines recovery as “a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.”
Recovery now expands further than just abstinence. It is a new life, a second chance. Those in recovery now live a fulfilling life. Their whole lives improve, from family, to physical and mental health, as well as better living conditions.
Productive Members of Society
While in active addiction, your whole life is controlled by your drugs use. Your entire day involves coming up with ways to get money for use. Many times the addiction can completely destroy your life. Once the drugs are gone, part of the process of recovery is being a productive member of society. The drug no longer controls every action. Holding down a job now becomes possible. A steady job and no longer needing to spend all your money on using, allows for bills to be paid. Many are now able to have a home.
Meanwhile, a person in recovery may discover hobbies they once loved or even new ones. There is a lot more time available when you are no longer spending every waking moment to feed your drug habit. Spending time working or on hobbies can be very fulfilling. Having goals and ambitions are a big part of recovery.
It is now possible for people to reach goals they never would have dreamed possible while in addiction. Some may decide to go back to school or begin a new career. All the energy once focused on negative things is now being harnessed for positive.
Physical and Mental Health
Another part of recovery can be of the body. While in active addiction, health is often ignored. As part of living a life in recovery we no longer ignore those things. It can be as simple as eating healthy and personal hygiene. Many people become interested in fitness or other athletic activities like hiking. A more obvious part is addressing their health by going to doctors regularly. When in recovery you are no longer killing yourself slowly with substances and there’s now a desire to live, that wasn’t there before.
Physical health is important, but equally important is mental health. In recovery it is now time to address those issues that may have caused your use. Many mental disorders are also linked to addiction. There could also be unresolved trauma that may need to be addressed. These issues can no longer be ignored; if they are, they may lead to relapse.
Relationships in Recovery
A final component of recovery is relationships. Drugs often cut off people from making connections or maintaining relationships with family and friends. In recovery, people now mend relationships, as well as form new ones. You are now able to show up for people when you are needed. Bettering themselves allows for these relationships to heal.
Also, people are typically cut off from spiritual things when using. This doesn’t necessarily mean religion. It can mean just having a higher power and trusting that you cannot control everything. While in recovery, people can find it very comforting to take solace in religion or other spiritual things.
Why Not Just Abstinence?
While there are people who will say that being in recovery simply means not using drugs and alcohol, to a lot of people it is much more than that. It is a process of change; one that will give them a life where their health and wellness are improve and are truly happy without using drugs or alcohol.
If drugs are taken away, often the issues that caused people to use are still there. That’s part of the process of recovery, addressing these issues. Once these issues are addressed, you are given coping skills. For many people drugs were the way they coped, and now they must learn new ways. This is part of the psychological change of recovery.
It is true that the goal is to stop the drug and alcohol use, but an even bigger goal is lifelong sobriety. Some may try to control their use but often find it difficult, making the case for total abstinence. All the other aspects of recovery discussed are suggested to aid in not using and living a fulfilling productive life. These changes show you a life that is not bleak without drugs and alcohol, but attractive and fruitful.
Being in Recovery – What Does it Mean?
While the meaning of recovery may vary depending on who you ask, most people that have experienced it would agree that it is more than just not using. Recovery is a process. It is life changing and it is hard at times. However, the outcome is rewarding. The new life that you create is often times a happier and better one than what you had before. This would not be possible without other changes that are made through recovery.
All these point to certain needs when looking for addiction treatment for you or a loved one. Whatever places you decide on should have services that guide potential clients toward a new happy life and not just staying clean. Facilities should help them rebuild their lives. Recovery is possible and with it is a beautiful life. If you or someone you love needs help with addiction or resources for recovery, reach out.
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