Substance Abuse Recovery

When a  person begins their journey from being addicted and dependent on the use of any substance, it is regarded as a recovery process, the uniqueness of everyone’s individual journey to recovery makes it difficult to give a broad definition, however…

What is Recovery?

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Commission SAMHSA together with other concerned organisations have developed a working definition of recovery which they say is the process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness as well as live self-directed in the process of trying to fulfil their potential. There are four dimensions that serve as support to the attainment of full recovery and they include:

  • Health: this involves overcoming and managing one’s disease or the symptoms as well as making better and well thought out choices that act as improvements to the social and physical well-being of an individual 
  • Home: this involves having a balanced, safe and stable place to reside in. 
  • Purpose: this includes the ability to conduct your activities daily in a meaningful way as well as having the independence, income, ability and resources to participate in the society. 
  • Community: this is having the relationships and the social network that creates an atmosphere of friendship and love as well as support and hope. 

Other definitions of Recovery include a voluntary maintained lifestyle which is characterised by sobriety, personal health and hope. The best word to describe a situation where a person gets out the positive health, social and mental benefit from getting the help they need for the dependency or substance abuse. 

The SAMHSA also along with the definition provided some guiding principles which act as a pillar to support the definition and they include:

  • Hope is the foundation of recovery: the recovery of a person is built on their strengths, their talents, their coping abilities and their intrinsic values, it is holistic and it focuses on the whole person and it is anchored by peers, friends and family members. 
  • The recovery is extensively personal and it occurs through many pathways 
  • Recovery is entire and holistic
  • Recovery is continuous
  • Recovery is evidenced by the improvement one’s health and wellness
  • Recovery is also shown by the improvement in handling setbacks which are part of life’s process. 
  • Recovery may include clinical treatment and medicine, and even an approach that is based on faith, support from friends and family. 

Stages of Recovery

One of the major and essential part of recovery is sobriety, which can be described as the complete non-indulgence in all non-prescribed drug use and alcohol. This is the first and most essential step in recovery: There are three groups with their different stages of recovery and they include:

  • Betty ford institute Consensus Panel which groups the recovery process into three stages viz:
    • Early abstinence (one to 12 months)
    • Sustained Abstinence (one to five years)
    • Stable (over five of abstinence)
  • The National institute on drug abuse which also groups recovery into three phases:
    • Early abstinence 
    • Maintained abstinence 
    • Advanced recovery 
  • The Developmental Model characterises the model into 7 stages:
    • Transition 
    • Stabilisation 
    • Early recovery
    • Middle recovery
    • Late recovery 
    • Maintenance 

Recovery must be maintained by resilience, which is the strength and the ability of an individual to adjust to change and adversity. This ability does not only allow the individual to adjust, but it helps the individual prepare even more for the next challenge they are to face. This ability is peculiar to each individual depending on personal or environmental attributes, it is the ability to maintain physical and mental health irrespective of the stressful situation surrounding the individual. 

The process of recovery is highly personalised and as such, the services for recovery and the support must be age appropriate and must be able to adapt to the culture so as to ensure relevance. The method adopted for adults in recovery may be parallel and differ extensively from the method used for the youths and young persons.

The process of recovery is also strengthened by the support received from parents, friends and family members. These social networks can act as social champions for the recovery of the individual by providing the needed and essential support that would help the individual recover fully and maintain their recovery. Adversities may be experienced by the families of the recovering addict, and this may lead to neglect, isolation, guilt, stress etc by the family. However, it is in such times as these the idea of resilience becomes applicable not just to the individual recovering, but also to the family of such individuals. Such support from friends and families provide the needed strength for the individual to stay connected to the process 

Recovery from Substance Abuse

Generally, it is believed that remaining sober or being able to cut back and quit drinking is all the requirement needed for one to achieve recovery, however, that is not the case, real recovery includes not just quitting the substance, but being able to build a better life outside the use of the substance is what real recovery entails: Some signs that helps you know that you’re in recovery includes:

  • The ability to address problems immediately they happen without succumbing to the stress and relapsing to the substance
  • There is the presence of that one person with whom you can be completely honest with
  • You are sincere to yourself on which issues are from your end and which are coming from the third party and you also have and maintain boundaries. 
  • You know how to restore your lost energy, both physical and emotional energy when you’re tired. 

Rules for Recovery

There are certain lifestyles and decisions that if taken as mandatory may help the recovering individual stay sober and maintain sobriety. Some of these rules include:

  • Changing your lifestyle: by this, it is meant that the recovering individual begins to find new ways to have fun, while remaining sober, and also find new ways to cope without having to resort to the use of substances to destress. 
  • Being completely honest: It is important to learn to deal with the truth about your abuse disorder both to yourselves and to your family members as this will help them trust you and deal with the past lies.
  • Asking for help in this situation is highly essential, because isolation is not the key, isolation could lead to depression and many other negative circumstances, it has even been concluded through studies that self help groups usually help the individual recovering to stay away from the substance for a longer period. 
  • It is also important for the individual recovering to keep practising self care which includes caring for the body and the mind, helping them to relax both mind and body which can create a better atmosphere to cope with the life stressors.