Addiction recovery skills grow the more you chose to learn from each experience, so if you want to find long lasting recovery chose to keep on learning. Addiction is a lifestyle choice and so is recovery. Over a long time addicts have learned that by using a particular behaviour they can change how they feel and for a fleeting moment, are able to manage their anxiety, their self esteem and put out of reach all their problems. To break the cycle of addiction it is essential that those in recovery choose to accept that they, like everyone else is not perfect and that, as part of the recovery process they need to learn from every experience, both positive and negative ones.
Living in Recovery is something that addicts have to learn how to do and as part of that process they have to learn to undo the old patterns of thinking and behaving that lead them to live as addicts. This is why it is so important to live for the journey and not focus on the destination. Recovery and the road to recovery is a meandering journey of growth and development. This development would not be possible without points of learning, consolidation, discovery and re-evaluation of assumed norms.
The recovery skills you will develop are many and complex and each lapse can highlight where the next piece of work needs to take place.
The adoption of a judgmental mindset when evidence
of more learning is present will be counter productive to a meaningful outcome
from this experience and so it is not lapse which should be judged but what the
addict chooses to do about the lapse experience. The options are to take stock
and identify a new way of approaching that situation or event, or else to
abandon the progress already established and return to a lifestyle which is
much more dangerous and ultimately harder one to experience.
In early recovery a common source of lapsing is
catastrophising, (making everything into a catastrophe). This is a fancy way of
saying blowing things out of proportion. This type of thinking comes from the
effects of living a life centred around instant gratification. As soon as there
is a barrier to overcome, no matter how insignificant those in early recovery
choose to feel overwhelmed and use this feeling as an excuse to resume their addictive
behaviour. This can be as simple as
missing the bus to an appointment, not getting a call back from someone or
being told no when requesting an immediate meeting. To reach your recovery keep your eyes on the bigger picture after each bump in the road.
Early recoverees or those who have opted for an independent recovery, with no peer support, choosing not to access mutual aid or even accessing professional support may be unaware of the amount of specialist techniques and recovery skills available (many are listed on this site).
These tools that have been developed to help those in recovery deal with each evolving situation. They give you more resources and more choices beyond a focus on willpower being their only mechanism to recovery. Used on its own this is a fragile approach as it does not offer many learning opportunities. Should you experience a lapse the only point of learning is, “Need more will power.”
Further on in recovery Seemingly Irrelevant Decisions may contribute to being in a dangerous situation and choosing to adopt their addictive behaviour at this time.
later in their recovery journey lapse could
occur due to a crisis such as a death in the family. Another of the
recovery skills which comes from this is that life happens to us all,
both good events and bad, so plan for the worst and hope for the best.
Nobody goes through life without the support of others so always be
prepared to access it, you can never have too much help nor be certain
that life will stop delivering new challenges.
For some experiencing the recovery journey, lapse is perceived as evidence of failure, something to regret and to be ashamed of. In reality lapse is just a moment of confirmation that there is yet more to learn and whatever contributed to the lapse can be re-assessed and used as a learning aid.
Regardless of when the difficulties through the
recovery journey take place it is the willingness to recognise that this is a
journey, not a destination with opportunities to develop better recovery skills
and to learn from it which will serve to bring lasting sustainable recovery.
As recoveries become more skilled at dealing with the numerous tools to use with each unfolding situation and they become more skilled at applying these skills, then, as long as they reflect on what to do differently, they will become more flexible at dealing with life and learn to manage their recoveries with more ease and more confidence. Choosing not to learn from lapse and relapse could be best summed up by George Santayana who said that...
“Those who do not learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them”.
Make your recovery easy, choose to learn...