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5 Phases Of Recovery

Aug 17, 2007
Here one way to look at phases of recovery, milestones to mark your progress. Addiction recovery can be thought of as moving through these five phases:

1. Admission of a problem

This is the key starting point. If there is no addiction problem then there certainly is no need for a solution to addiction. There is a certain logic to that. What would prevent someone from admitting they have an addiction problem? Well, how about memory distortion caused by their chemical dependency. There is a jazzy phrase called 'euphoric recall' which is the tendency to only remember the good times and positive experiences of using. That is half of the equation, at the same time we are suppressing or refusing to remember the far more numerous times where indulging in the addiction has caused pain and embarrassment. Another block to admitting the problem is our distorted defense mechanisms, such as minimizing, rationalizing and good old fashioned denial. If we get to the point that we acknowledge there is a problem and want to do something about it now, we can move on to the next phase of recovery which is compliance.

2. Compliance

What is meant by compliance here is going along with the most important seeing and agreeing to the concept of abstinence. This early phase of recovery usually involves little emotional insight into the whys of the addiction; the concentration is simply on 'don't do it' on a daily basis. Once we accept compliance as a necessary part of recovery, we can move toward the whys and wherefores. But it is not unusual to pass through the next phase of recovery which is defiance.

3. Defiance

Defiance can rear its head in several ways the most damaging is in the form of believing that the terms of addiction don't apply to me. Picking and choosing what is to be done and not. done An example might be rejection of continuing care believing that is for others not me, or I have been 'good' for awhile I deserve to use again now that I proved I can quit. Another example of defiance can be becoming engaged in anger toward others who do not have your affliction or getting on the pity pot with the 'poor me's'. Defiance and anger can also be a block toward connecting and resolving with your emotions and feelings that underlie the blanketing emotion of anger.

4. Acceptance

One of my favorite philosophers was Popeye The Sailor Man, he used to say "I y'am what I y'am". However you come to accept your addiction whether you believe it is a no fault illness, or you simple got dealt a bad hand in life, accepting your addiction allows you to move out of the problem and into the solution. People who are accepting are generally less defensive and have a greater sense of emotional and personal identity. Acceptance is the first step toward beginning to trust yourself and others, and open the possibilities of self-evaluation.

5. Surrender

We are not talking about submission but rather surrender they are very different. Submission is a temporary yielding, it tends to leave the escape hatch of returning to the addiction open. There is an implication of force being used or submitting against your will. Surrender can be thought of as wholehearted acceptance and compliance. It is a voluntary action and does not mean being defeated as does submission, but rather a conscious decision not to participate. A boxer who has been knocked out has submitted to the power of his opponent. A boxer who has retired and does not climb in the ring any more has surrendered to the idea that he no longer chooses to fight.

In summing up the points made above we can say that progress in addiction recovery can be made by admitting there is a problem and seeing the need for change. We move through negativity and emotional blocks to our recovery to arrive at a point of acceptance. Our acceptance of the need to change eventually moves through an attitude of being defeated to voluntarily seeking a better life. Stringing these concepts together can be viewed as movement through the phases of recovery.
About the Author
Tell your story! Pick up tips and tricks to help in addiction recovery and enhance your life free of addictions. Join our growing community. The author, Bill Urell MA.CAAP-II, is an addictions therapist at a leading drug treatment center. He teaches healthy life styles and life skills. Visit us at: http://www.AddictionRecoveryBasics.com
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