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  • Writer's picturemrr316

Simple Rx for Everlasting Recovery

Updated: Feb 18, 2019

There really is no secret to what it takes for every person to succeed that has entered into a recovery program from drugs and alcohol. The problem is better than 80% of those who have gone through treatment will return to their old bad habits because they refuse to follow the simple formula of Structure, Accountability, Spirituality and Abstinence. There are many reasons why people relapse but for the most part it can be traced to either never following this simple formula or discontinuing one or all the pieces of this plan.

So, let’s look at how each of these pieces are weighted in their importance for sustaining recovery:

Structure - 50%

Accountability- 25%

Spirituality - 24%

Abstinence - 1%

= 100%

As you can see Structure is the major piece of this prescription. It is what makes the rest of this simple and easy to follow. Structure also takes a great deal of discipline to follow initially and hence it is difficult for most recovering people to undertake. It takes work at first and that’s most likely the problem. Just like doing your step four, because you actually have to put pen to paper and do some work. The fact is, it’s ridiculously simple to set up. Just make a grid (or use an Excel spreadsheet). Most people if they want to get 7-8 hours sleep each night (very important) will have 16-17 waking hours. Draw 17 horizontal lines on a sheet of paper followed by 8 vertical lines crossing over the horizontal ones. The first vertical column is for the waking hours. If your plan is to get up at 6am then Start at 6:00am and go down the sheet marking each line with an hour designation ex ...7:00am, 8:00am, 9:00am and so forth till your planed bed time, in this case 10:00pm. – 11:00pm. Next over the top line assign each vertical column a day Monday – Sunday and you have your structure sheet all set up for you to start plugging in known appointments and activities that you already have plans for (work, lunch, dinner, AA/NA meetings, church, therapist appts., Walk the dog, grocery shopping etc...) Next start filling in the hours of each day with things you can do so that you don’t have long periods of free time on your hands to get into trouble (hobbies, movies, computer time, special events etc.…). Any more than 2 hours of time that is open for you is dangerous to your recovery. Do this every Sunday (schedule it on your sheet!) for the following week and repeat weekly. This is 50% of your recovery arsenal and sure is a lot less expensive than another trip into treatment.

Now you’ve got a structure all set up, now you have to commit to following it, sounds pretty simple. Unfortunately, only one in five will actually set up a structure sheet and then only half will commit to following it. Those who do are 10 times more likely to stay in a sustained recovery for more than 5 years than those who don’t. I don’t know about you but I’ll take those last odds for the little bit of work that needs to be done.

Accountability can now be planned each week. Accountability is your AA/NA meetings for the most part but it also includes any gathering of people that you are accountable to. Bible study, attending church, therapist appointments, book clubs, car clubs, or any other gathering where there is a consistent group of people that do not do drugs or alcohol and care about you being there. Accountability is the cement in the structure that holds recovery together.

Spirituality fills the hole that we’ve been trying to fill with drugs and alcohol. This piece can be either easy or very difficult depending on your current spiritual progress. Those who have already made a decision about their faith and/or spirituality can start to incorporate this into more and more of their activities and awareness. This produces the post that’s driven into that deep hole we were always trying to fill with our substance of choice and something to hang onto when the going gets tough. Those who are still seeking their direction should start by carefully researching their options and can start visiting different places and people who can help them find their spiritual community.

This part of recovery cannot be overstated, it is an integral part of lasting recovery and may take some years to accomplish but the journey is worth the effort. I will have an entire separate blog featuring this area in the near future.

Abstinence means no drugs, alcohol, marijuana, or any other mind-altering substance. Abstinence is worth only 1% because if you can’t get this right than none of the rest matters, you’re not in recovery. Virtually every person with an addictive personality will attempt to hang on to something and will most likely be tempted over the line at least once. The most mis-guided thinking is the Marijuana therapy cure. I admit this does provide some temporary comfort but as with all mind-altering substances in the hands of an addictive personality it will lead to bad things in the future, GAURANTEED!

There you have it, a Simple Prescription for Recovery Success. It is so simple that everyone can do it. Everyone that really wants it!

For more a personalized recovery plan and therapy please call and make an appointment with Michael Richman MA,LPC at (616)888-4353


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