Addiction is a disease and an addict has different brain and chemical reactions when thinking of or seeing the substance, making it harder for the addict to stay away from it than someone who is not addicted. Once in treatment, it is a never ending journey to deal with one's recovery. Many times this brings up feelings of unfairness that other people don't have to manage recovery or deal with high risk situations when it comes to the substance(s). The daunting and overwhelming thought that recovery is unending can be scary for some people or cause feelings of anger. This righteous anger is a normal and understandable feeling, but staying angry won't help one's recovery progress.
Francine then drew her graph, which I tried to (poorly) imitate above, and discussed the flow of a successful recovery and how it becomes a positive part of one's life rather than a burden he/she has to think about 24/7. In the beginning of recovery from an addiction, the individual needs frequent and intense treatment. Recovery becomes priority and the individual is not very engaged in "normal" life. There needs to be a constant mindfulness of what one is thinking, feeling, and doing, especially in high risk situations when it comes to the addiction.
However, Francine points out that in successful recovery, after a period of time the individual needs less and less treatment. This is because after so much intense and frequent treatment, the person should be able to remember and use the tools given to them in counseling and be able to more easily incorporate these recovery activities such as meditation or self-soothing behaviors into their normal lives and hopefully make habits of them. As the recovery activities are used and thought processes have changed for the better, the individual has to receive less treatment and normal life becomes more prevalent and fulfilling.
Francine reminded us that although recovery/treatment is a part of an addict's life forever and never completely goes away (new things will always pop up in life and challenge sobriety so it is best to maintain some sort of treatment, even if it is only a few times a year), the longer one can stay on track, the less prevalent and burdening recovery is.
Accepting the fact that recovery will always be a part of your life's journey can be scary, especially for someone who is newly sober, but if you look at it from a different perspective, you can see the positive life changes that can be made through recovery. Someone in successful recovery can proudly say that they now have remission for the rest of their life's journey instead of an addiction for the rest of their life, or worse, no longer having life because of an addiction. If you can change your attitude about a never ending recovery, you can start to see the positives that come out of it and the new, healthier, and fulfilling lifestyle you have achieved because of it.
Written by: Chelsea Kline