Recovery Is a Process of Learning, Growth, and Healing

Meditation, a 2,600-year-old Buddhist practice, is a formal component of step eleven. Along with other mindfulness practices, mediation has increasingly been incorporated into contemporary psychotherapeutic approaches such as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). The disease of addiction is known for being “cunning, baffling, and powerful.” It is also exquisitely patient, as well as treacherous, in the ways it attempts to convince those who suffer from it that they don’t have it. Ironically, as long as my addiction was active, my education and professional experience obstructed my ability to see it for what it was, admit it, and seek help despite mounting personal and professional consequences.

  • Taking action is a very important step in the substance abuse recovery process, and it is one in which it’s important to have support as you make changes.
  • Staying realistic about relapse and the road ahead is advised.
  • Recovery signals a dramatic shift in the expectation for positive outcomes for individuals who experience mental and substance use conditions or the co-occurring of the two.
  • After a return to old behaviors, people make a decision to resume their active strategies of coping, facilitating remission and recovery.
  • An increasing number of high schools and colleges offer addiction recovery resources (CRPS, or Collegiate Recovery Programs) for students, including mentors, workshops, dedicated lounges, and group meetings and activities.
  • There are stark differences in how the body and brain respond to alcohol and different drugs.

The endpoint is voluntary control over use and reintegration into the roles and responsibilities of society. Shortly after substance use is stopped, people may experience withdrawal, the onset of unpleasant physical and psychological symptoms —from irritability to shakiness to nausea; delirium and seizures in severe cases. His dad Ken rejects the idea that treatment should be “tough love” versus family support.

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The shifts in thinking and behavior are critical because they lay the groundwork for changes in brain circuity that gradually help restore self-control and restore the capacity to respond to normal rewards. People can learn to resist or outsmart the cravings until they become manageable. There are strategies of distraction and action people can learn to keep them from interrupting recovery. Another is to carefully plan days so that they are filled with healthy, absorbing activities that give little time for rumination to run wild. Exercise, listening to music, getting sufficient rest—all can have a role in taking the focus off cravings. Not only did sharing my experience and listening to other people’s stories inspire hope in me, but it also helped me build a strong support group.

You will reap the rewards of recovery in all areas of your life. This second meaning of recovery involves a process rather than a one-time event – a process that resolves issues underlying the heart attack, thus maintaining a level of wellness that reduces vulnerability to another heart attack. This deeper level of recovery requires an end to one’s denial that years of poor health habits caused the heart attack.

What Does Recovery Mean?

Further, those friends can serve as a cue that sets off drug craving and challenges the recovery process. Cravings are the intense desire for alcohol or drugs given formidable force by neural circuitry honed over time into single-minded pursuit of the outsize neurochemical reward such substances deliver. Cravings vary in duration and intensity, and they are typically triggered by people, places, paraphernalia, and passing thoughts in some way related to previous drug use. But cravings don’t last forever, and they tend to lessen in intensity over time.

  • At least equally necessary is developing in a positive direction out of the addiction.
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  • Attending to healing harms done while actively addicted is an ongoing part of maraging the vulnerability to relapse by reducing the shame inherent in recognizing the damage one has done.

That is because the brain is plastic and changes in response to experience—the capacity that underlies all learning. In one set of studies looking at some measures of dopamine system function, activity returned to normal levels after 14 months of abstinence. Over time, reward circuits regain sensitivity to respond to normal pleasures and to motivate pursuit of everyday activities.

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