Become an Expert in Using the Fundamentals of Recovery

Become an Expert in Using the Fundamentals of Recovery

• Connect with a recovery sponsor who can answer questions and provide critical support

The Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment in 2007 defined addiction recovery as a lifestyle that is voluntarily maintained and characterized by sobriety, personal health and citizenship. As the clinical definition implies, recovery is a process, not a destination, and it includes various components and fundamentals. To maintain this lifestyle in an effective and lasting way, recovering addicts need to apply the fundamental elements every day until they become experts, and even then individuals should continue to utilize these skills, tools and systems as natural components of their recovery lifestyle. Below are tips on the why, what and how.

The Importance of Recovery Fundamentals

Why are the fundamentals important? Simply put, they are the foundation upon which the recovery is built. Depending on the particular substance, detoxification can help addicts through the physical dependence and withdrawals, but the long-term hold of mental and emotional dependence can trip up early recoveries, especially in the first year or two. Substance cravings can be triggered by various cues, which can include people, situations, locations, memories and emotions like stress and anger. In some cases, it can be mental habits like always assuming the worst that can trigger cravings and eat away at the soul. Recovery fundamentals help people identify risk factors, avoid negative cues and neutralize cravings when they occur. As if often said in the military and sports, rely on your training. When tough times hit, an expert intuitively knows how to handle the situation, while the person who neglected the fundamentals often feels lost, confused and overwhelmed.

What Are the Fundamentals of Recovery

Each addict has particular needs, and recovery plans might include fundamentals that specifically apply to that individual. However, several fundamentals are nearly universal, including the following:

  • Improved coping skills for handling anger, stress, setbacks, conflict and cravings
  • Positive motivations identified in treatment that can help drive recovery efforts
  • Activities, medication and therapies that help manage ongoing mental health issues
  • Healthy hobbies and interests that promote positive goals, lifestyles and healing
  • Cultivation of stronger friendships and family ties with stable interpersonal dynamics
  • Asking for forgiveness and making amends with people wronged during the addiction
  • Development of social support systems and networks for accountability, aid and advice
  • Voluntary sobriety that never accepts the idea that just one drink or drug won’t hurt
  • Taking steps to improve citizenship in the family, workplace and community

In a nutshell, the fundamentals involve proactive steps that improve physical, mental and social health, including the development of support networks and coping skills that protect against relapse risks.

How to Apply Recovery Fundamentals

Addiction therapists and support groups can provide invaluable guidance in helping people apply the fundamentals. Several tips can assist a recovering addict in applying the fundamentals, including the following:

  • Connect with a recovery sponsor who can answer questions and provide critical support
  • Learn to curb automatic emotional responses that immediately assume the worst
  • Practice finding the positive aspects or potential in all situations, even bad ones
  • Do not dwell on negative thoughts or memories about past failures or personal slights
  • Take steps to make sure that bitterness, anger and other negative emotions do not fester
  • Address symptoms of mental health disorders immediately when they emerge

While these are the basics, individuals might have fundamentals that apply to their particular situation. For example, a person might become addicted to methadone while treating chronic pain or a prior opiate dependence, and recovering methadone addicts might have holistic activities as part of their recovery plan. Chronic pain might entail daily conditioning routines, hot/cold applications, yoga and other activities. Likewise, aerobic routines like running release endorphins that can expedite healing in the neurobiological pathways of recovering opiate addicts.

Recovery and Addiction Help

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) in 2011 explained that addiction involves neurobiological changes in the frontal cortex, white matter connections, the basal forebrain, nucleus accumbens, amygdala and related circuitry and transmissions. The act of substance abuse might be a behavior, but the addiction behind it is a disease of the brain reward system that requires healing. For this reason, many recovery addicts have setbacks during their first year and require additional help, but the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) stated in 2008 that only 14% of recovering addicts experience a relapse after their third year of abstinence. Neurobiological healing plays a major role in the low relapse rate after three years, but to get to three years, most recovering addicts also become experts in the fundamentals.

If you need help with an addiction or recovery, our admissions coordinators can speak with you anytime; we’re available 24 hours a day. We can answer questions, make recommendations and provide valuable information, and if you have health insurance, we can check the policy for treatment benefits. Our helpline is toll-free so please give us a call now.