If you try to Google “steps to recovery,” you are likely to uncover a wide range of results. Whether one follows twelve steps, five stages, or six chapters, they all work together to highlight one thing: recovery from addiction is not straightforward and does not happen overnight. There is no question that the road to recovery is a process that requires intentional steps toward specific goals. More often than not, it is not enough to simply determine to live addiction-free. Instead, the process is filled with difficult challenges, triumphant achievements, and more highs and lows than can be counted. Because of this, it is crucial to understand what the steps of recovery are. Knowing what the process of recovery looks like is the same as having a roadmap in a car: it does not do away with the curves, but it makes it a lot easier to keep your way and avoid getting lost along the way. The steps of recovery outlined below provide an overview of what the process looks like, what can be expected, and what can be achieved.
Step 1: Recognizing That Your Addiction is a Problem
The very first step on the road to recovery is recognizing that you have a problem. This may take a variety of forms, from intervention to self-illumination, but the end result is the same: you realize that your addiction has power over your life that you are unable to control. This happens to be the first step in the 12 Step Program of Alcoholics Anonymous: “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.” This may be the hardest part of recovery but starts you on the right path.
Step 2: Deciding to Make a Change in Your Life
After recognizing that addiction has a detrimental impact on your life and relationships, the next step is to actually decide to make the changes necessary for recovery. It is not enough to simply recognize a problem. There may be many friends, family and loved ones encouraging you to toward recovery, but you alone must take the first step. After taking that first step, you can start gathering the resources you need for recovery, including telling someone about your addiction and asking for help. This is likely to keep you accountable to the change in your life.
Step 3: Finding Treatment Options for Addiction
Even if it is up to you to take the first step, the process of recovery is not a singular one. It is important to seek out the help you need for addiction recovery, including those who can help you process the impact of your addiction, lay out the next steps, and provide counseling. Thankfully, there are many services available to help those with addictive, disorders. Support meetings (like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous) can give you the support you need, while sessions at a treatment center can help you explore the root causes of addiction.
Step 4: Committing to Making Change in All Areas of Your Life
An integral part of the Twelve Step Program is to address how addiction has affected other areas of your life, such as your relationships with loved ones. Likewise, addiction may have impacted your physical and emotional health. It is important to work on rebuilding these relationships, regain strength and health, and recognize what emotional sobriety looks like. This takes hard work and requires developing new skills in self-control, monitoring both thoughts and behaviors, and developing a support system to guard against relapse.
Step 5: Celebrating How Far You’ve Come in Recovery
The road to recovery is never over, but you can get stronger along the way. As one recovery guide states, “It takes resources to reach goals and make changes. Your strengths as a person are also a resource.” There is no last step in the recovery process, but it is important to take the time to celebrate both yourself and your life in recovery.