A Roadmap to Recovery
Recovery takes a lot of hard work and can be very challenging, especially at the beginning, but ultimately, it’s about learning to live a happier, healthier, more connected, more balanced and more satisfying life, and when you look at things from this perspective, starting off on a journey that will last a lifetime may help to ease the initial pressure. After all, what is life but an ongoing journey of self-discovery and connection to others and the world we live in?
What is recovery?
Recovery is a word that is used a lot and can mean different things to different people – but what does it mean? Does it start by reducing or using substances more safely (Harm Reduction)? Does it start when you stop using drugs or alcohol? (Abstinence). The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) state that recovery is simply a process of changing your life (such as by reducing or quitting drugs or alcohol) and working to improve your health and well-being, working to live a more self-directed life and working to reach your full potential.
From this definition, recovery can be seen as:
- Making changes in your life in some fundamental way (such as by stopping or reducing drugs or drinking)
- Working daily to continue to improve yourself
- Creating meaningful connections to yourself and others
Some common ingredients of a life of recovery can include:
- Working to maintain physical and mental health
- Finding a safe and stable place to live and grow
- Finding purpose in life, such as through family, work, volunteering or other activities that bring meaning
- Building and maintaining positive social relationships
The stages of recovery
Recovery can take a long time… but what happens along the way? How do you get from addiction and challenge to health and stability? To help you find the most appropriate route for you to take, we have developed a recovery roadmap that outlines the common stages and tasks and supports. It is important to note that you can enter the system from any one of the stages listed.
- Outreach – See Video for Depaul
- Community Based Drug Initiatives (CBDI)
- Deciding how you would like to approach your recovery or treatment, either by reducing your use, stopping completely or using more safely
- Getting informed about drugs, their use, harm and safer using
- Safer injection Practices, crack pipe and steroid use training
- Referral to additional appropriate services
- Help with engaging with additional services and supports
- To improve physical health and minimise the harm (harm reduction associated with using substances
- To link into the treatment and recovery system
- To start resolving serious immediate challenges (using drugs safely, like withdrawing, or finding a stable place to live)
- To complete an initial assessment of needs, identifying your most immediate support services
- To develop a care plan
- Using materials and substances in a safer way
- Keeping your appointments with support services
- Learning about the local support services and their requirements
- Working on addressing your most immediate serious life problems – accommodation, withdrawal, physical health, mental health, court support etc.
- Attending education workshops and activities
- Making a list of people you can count on for social support
- Attending mutual aid support
- Substance Misuse Teams
- Residential Treatment Services – See Videos for St Francis Farm Detox and St Francis Farm Rehab
Goals and Activities:
- Maintain abstinence (or if you are working to moderate or reduce harms – continuing to meet your goals)
- Take care of physical health after using substances, testing and medicating if necessary
- You’ve been learning that you need to change a lot of your behaviours and habits, so a goal for this stage is to keep up with all the changes you’ve had to make
- Make a solid relapse prevention plan (identify your triggers and develop strategies to manage cravings, etc.)
- To complete a comprehensive assessment of needs, identifying the different support services needed to support your goals and circumstances
- Identify and start to work on personal problems (in stage 1 you identified and worked on emergency problems, such as finding housing. In stage 2 you start to work on more internal problems like learning to control anger or frustration)
- Develop an interagency care plan
- Get active in a mutual self-help programme (like a 12-step programme, SMART Recovery, Better Together)
- Community Education Services
- Local Training Initiatives
- Special C.E. Schemes
People in stage 3 of the recovery process generally benefit from continuing participation in community-based support services. The primary focus at this stage is addressing education, training and career goals.
Goals and Activities:
- Maintain abstinence (if this is your intention)
- Put your relapse prevention plan and skills into practice – continue to learn new coping skills
- Increase and strengthen your peer support network
- Continue to work on personal issues
- Identify education, training and career goals
- Continue to work with community support groups
- Continue with medications, if appropriate
- Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
- Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
- Gamblers Anonymous (GA)
- Smart Recovery
- Family Support – See video for South East Region Family Support Network
- Better Together
Continuing to participate in community support organisations (if necessary)
Goals and Activities:
- Maintain abstinence (if this is your goal)
- Work on moving toward independence and away from any reliance on addiction treatment
- Work on maintaining/improving healthy lifestyle
- Work on maintaining social support network
- Dive into meaningful recreational activities – continue to develop new hobbies and interests
General Principles of Recovery Success
- You don’t have to figure it all out right from the start – you will learn as you work through the process and system. Everyone is different and everyone needs to find their own unique way forward. That being said, there are some general principles that provide a foundation to get the most out of your recovery efforts.
- There’s no single right way to find recovery – there are many pathways to success. If anyone tells you they know the only way forward, they are giving you a personal opinion and experience.
- Recovery starts from hope – nurture a belief that you can meet the challenges of recovery – one day at a time – and you probably can.
- You build recovery in your physical body, in your mind, in your spirit and in your environment/ community. For the optimum opportunity for success, you should find the support you need to grow and heal across all of these dimensions (medical, emotional, psychological, physical and spiritual guidance, etc.)
- You don’t recover alone. The people you surround yourself with play an important role – and that role can be helpful or harmful, depending. Ideally, close friends and family can be enormously supportive and encouraging.
- If you live with the legacy of past traumas, you increase your chances of success by learning to manage and process past experiences.
- You increase your odds of success by making full use of the support, advice and experience of peers facing similar challenges – such as in community self-help groups.