5 Critical Steps in Developing an Addiction Recovery Plan
Addiction recovery is a difficult journey, one that doesn’t happen overnight. Its success relies on many things, starting with an individual’s ability to acknowledge that they have a problem. This is a difficult step for many people, but it’s an important one: it’s a foot on the road, outside of their comfort zone, and it reflects a person’s earnest desire to work towards their own recovery.
The next step, after acknowledgment, is the development of a plan. Addiction affects everybody different: some people can do this on their own, while others may require the help of a friend, a family member, or professional guidance—as an outpatient, or at a residential facility. There is no shame in any of this; no two people face the same circumstances when it comes to a substance abuse disorder, and the stress factors that commonly lead to addiction affect everyone differently.
Creating a Plan for Addiction Recovery
Regardless of how a transition and recovery plan is assembled, the ongoing process remains very much the same:
- Acknowledge the Commitment. Addiction recovery does take a certain amount of commitment. Even with help and guidance from qualified professionals along the way, it’s never easy. You need to accept, going in, that the overall process will take at least three months. You might stumble along the way, and need to start over; this happens. It’s something to try to avoid, but the most important thing to avoid is blaming yourself for every mistake. This kind of limiting belief only strengthens addiction’s hold.
- Draft a Plan. This is the work that will lead to the rest of your life. It’s not expected that you’re going to have a masterpiece ready to go within the first month of your recovery. Develop a plan for controlling your cravings and maintaining a mindful, intentional style of living. Be creative, and don’t be afraid to experiment with new things—interests, or hobbies—which you’ve always wanted to try. Live a little, and as you do, make changes and adjustments to your plan, to account for that which works best for you.
- Stay Connected with Important People. There are people who care about you, who want to see you succeed, and who understand that you deserve the chance to recover successfully. Nobody can tell you if you need a particular person involved in your project, except for you—but if you do, there’s no shame in asking them to be a part of it. Whether you want someone to look over your plan with you, or you need someone to engage in a once-cherished hobby with you, ask the people who are truly important to you to get involved.
- Keep Detailed Records. This can be difficult. A lot of people aren’t used to keeping personal records of their activities, and there’s no overall guideline for what needs to be written down. What is important is that you measure your progress, the achievement of important goals and personal milestones. For some people, this might be as simple as the number of days spent in abstinence. For others, it might include a record of time spent working out at the gym, engaging in a favorite hobby, or attending a support group.
- Remember Why You’re Doing This. There are people in your life who care about you; this is often a strong motivation for individuals with addiction disorders who are undergoing recovery. For other people, it’s the desire to be healthier, to regain their personal independence, or simply to be able to go back to enjoying life the way that they used to. Perhaps you’ve previously tried to quit, without a plan, and you couldn’t do it—or you completed a cycle, but you relapsed, and you don’t want to go through that again. As with anything else that’s worth doing, the important lesson there is to get up and try again, using the lessons of the past to inform your future decisions.
One Step at a Time: Day by Day, Moment by Moment
All roads, even the longest ones, eventually come to an end. The average duration of the recovery process, aided by an addiction recovery plan, is roughly three months. Some people don’t require that much time, while others take significantly longer. Eventually, the goal is reached, and you can move on to the post-recovery stage. It’s an accomplishment—one worth recognizing, when it arrives. In the meanwhile, take every day one step at a time. Work to control cravings by engaging in the things you enjoy doing, reaching out for the support you need, staying connected with the important people in your life, and developing a lifestyle based on mindfulness and intentional living.