What is the Recovery Lifestyle?

Group of young people sitting on grass talking - what is the recovery lifestyle example

Many people wonder “what is the recovery lifestyle?” when they initially hear about sobriety and what that might look like for those actively practicing it. Before you ask yourself what the recovery lifestyle is, you must first really understand what recovery is.

Group of young people sitting on grass talking - what is the recovery lifestyle example

What is Recovery ?

If you ask ten different people what recovery is, you will likely get ten slightly different answers. But the central themes are agreed upon. In terms of substance use or mental health, recovery is the process of proactively seeking solutions to addiction and/or a mental health condition. Recovery begins when the person living with the symptoms of a disorder not only makes a decision but begins to take action on their own behalf. 

Recovery looks a little different for each individual, but healing, charting progress, ownership, and accountability are always key elements. It’s been said that we don’t recover alone–and there is a great deal of truth to that statement. Another popular saying is that ‘recovery is an inside job’. But, how can both of these seemingly paradoxical statements be true?

We Don’t Recover Alone

What is meant by “we don’t recover alone”? Simply put, it is an acknowledgment that willpower and self-determination aren’t sufficient by themselves for recovery to occur. This idea is also where the oft-misunderstood concept of powerlessness in the 12-step recovery philosophy originates. People sometimes mistake the ideas of powerlessness and acceptance as “giving up”. Nothing could be further from the truth. What these concepts are really about is acknowledging reality. 

The Concept of Powerlessness in Recovery

If a person has reached a position where they are unable to control their use of a substance and/or their behavior, in spite of dire consequences–is it not reasonable to suggest they do not have the power of control? At least when attempting to take the problem on directly, they have been unsuccessful. They are powerless against this particular problem. 

Surrender Does Not Mean Defeat

This does not mean accepting defeat. It means acknowledging what you’ve been doing isn’t working. It’s time for a change in tactics. ‘White knuckling’ or attempting to resist the temptation to drink or use based on willpower alone rarely works for long. The concept of surrender and accepting powerlessness essentially means recognizing that you need more power than you’ve got to overcome the challenge. Some might say, a power greater than yourself

Recovery is an Inside Job?

So, how can recovery require the support and help of others and reliance upon a power “greater than yourself” but also be an inside job? You might use getting an education as a metaphor. To earn a degree, we need other people. Authors who write content we glean information from. Professors who teach and lecture. Practical hands-on experience with others. But, ultimately the action of comprehending and learning is up to us. 

That’s the inside job. No one can earn a college degree for us. Recovery is not too dissimilar. We rely upon others for help and guidance. But the work of embracing change and learning new behaviors, habits, and ways of thinking is entirely up to us. For most of us, recovering some a substance use disorder will be one of the most challenging things we ever do. But it’s also one of the most worthwhile in countless ways.

So Then, What is the Recovery Lifestyle?

They call recovery a lifestyle because that’s precisely what it is when you really think about it. Entering into recovery from substance use is a choice that is the best choice you can make for yourself. It will also inevitably change your social life, your leisure activities, and how you interact with life itself going forward. Those who had heavy substance use issues in the past know that eventually, their entire lifestyle revolves around that drug or alcohol use. As such, abstinence from those substances also means a change in lifestyle. Recovery is a lifestyle.

This idea is reiterated often because it’s important. It is vital to learn not to think of recovering from addiction as something you take care of during a 28-day stint at rehab and then you’re finished “recovering”. That’s part of recovery for certain, yes, but it’s only the beginning. 

We must get detoxed and become medically stable and safe. It’s also best to lay a solid foundation for recovery early on. Therapy can go a long way towards that end. But sooner or later, you will complete treatment. You may continue outpatient care for months or even years afterward, but ultimately recovery is a lifestyle choice because it requires maintenance if we intend to hold onto our sobriety. 

Sobriety is a Gift, But It Requires Maintenance

Sobriety is a wonderful gift, but it must never be taken for granted. No matter how many years have passed since we’ve touched a drink or a drug, maintaining our “spiritual condition” and growth requires some work. This is a blessing rather than a burden, however. We get to spend the rest of our lives working on self-improvement. That’s a good thing. Far too many people simply sit still after a certain point and stop their personal growth. People in recovery simply don’t have that luxury.

Begin Your Recovery at Cottonwood Tucson

Recovery takes courage and patience, to be sure. But, recovering from a substance use disorder is possible with the right help and just a bit of willingness.  Cottonwood Tucson has earned its reputation for delivering exceptional care by remaining at the leading edge of developments in substance use disorder treatment. We have been helping people overcome addiction for over 25 years. If you or someone you love could benefit from addiction treatment, Cottonwood Tucson is here to help. Contact us anytime, 24 hours a day at (888)-727-0441

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