25 May Understanding the Three Phases of Recovery
Recovery is a lifelong process; it is not something you simply go through and then complete. Instead, recovery must be viewed as a progressive course of action. Although there are a variety of ways to approach addiction recovery, it may be helpful to view the process in three separate stages. Each stage offers opportunities for growth and unique goals as well as potential pitfalls. Using this particular lens to view recovery will allow you to focus on your recovery one phase at a time.
Early Recovery – Phase One
While you are in the first phase of your recovery, your primary goal is to abstain from drugs, alcohol and other chemicals. This phase will typically begin with some sort of a detoxification process. While you may attempt detox on your own, you may be safer if you approach it from an in-patient process where you will be able to receive medical assistance. During this phase, you will spend time in either in-patient or out-patient rehabilitation. You must understand the basics of addiction and its effects, particularly as it relates to you. Feelings, emotions, stresses, and a variety of other behaviors may prompt your addiction; you will need to learn your triggers so you know how to handle these situations as you move into the other stages of recovery. While you are in the midst of this phase, your greatest risk for having a relapse may be due to lack of developing strong social recovery skills.
Middle Recovery – Phase Two
Many individuals assume once they get clean, they will be able to live a sober life. Unfortunately, getting clean is only stage one of recovery. The second phase, middle recovery, is actually learning to live sober. This phase is about understanding the balance between healthy living, sobriety and enjoying life. During middle recovery, your primary goal will be to live that balanced lifestyle. Part of that balance is learning how to face and handle stressors in your life while still remaining clean and sober. Through this phase, you will benefit from continuing regular counseling or group sessions. This may be the phase where you put the recovery plan you created in rehab into action. You will also spend time repairing relationships with friends and family that may have been damaged while you were battling addiction. Additionally, you will work to re-enter society as a productive citizen. One of the main causes of relapse you will need to be most aware of during this phase is managing relationships.
Later Recovery – Phase Three
This is easily the most overlooked phase but it is just as critical as the first two. During this time, your primary goal is clean, healthy, and satisfied living, arriving at a place in life where you feel completely free, peaceful and have a true enjoyment of life. You may find yourself moving to a place where you rely on counseling and group sessions at less frequent levels. Additionally, you will continue tackling family, work, and other issues with a clean head. You will be able to identify potential behaviors and triggers well before they become a temptation or an issue. Relapse will still be a potential problem, as it always will be; however, your largest relapse concern will now be from unresolved issues or avoidance of impending lifestyle changes.
Recovery is not a one-time procedure you can simply check off a list and consider complete. It is a systematic process you will contend with for the rest of your life. Understanding that from the very beginning of your recovery may help you keep the entire process in perspective. Years after you become clean, you will always deal with potential issues. Knowing which phase of recovery you may be in, along with possible relapse concerns for each phase, can enable you to smoothly transition from one phase to another as well as to live a clean, productive and healthy future.
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