How to Recover from Addiction – Stage 1

July 10, 2022

After many years of helping clients with a variety of issues and my own experience in recovery, here is what I have learned about how to recover from addiction. These methods have been compiled from those who were successful using therapy and the 12-steps of AA.  

There are 3 stages to the journey.  The first stage is how we enter recovery and get a solid start – it is common to all addiction types.  The second stage is the heart of the work, where the deeper shift comes from and it takes a little longer.  The third stage is tailored to the addiction type. It’s about building a better life which would ultimately prevent relapse.

Stage 1 – Answering the Call

We admit that we are addicted.

We won’t have the commitment necessary to stay sober if we minimize the problem by saying to ourselves “I’m not that bad” or “I’m not hurting anyone”.  When stressed, we crave our “drug” to escape and avoid while thoughts such as “do it just this once” and “it will be different this time” become intrusive.  If our resolve is not firm, we will succumb to the cravings and temptations facilitated by addictive thinking patterns.  

One way to get honest and admit that we have an addiction is to open up to trusted people (usually those who are also in recovery or a therapist) and let them reflect back to us, like a mirror, the reality of ourselves.

Admit we are addicted and need to recover

We surrender 

It’s time to surrender our ways because our ways aren’t working.  Now we must follow the path of those who have succeeded.  If we could quit by figuring out this problem within our own isolated thinking, we would have done it already and you wouldn’t be reading this. Once we have surrendered the idea that we can do it by ourselves, we become teachable. Let’s put our egos down and open our hearts to a new path.

We open up to others  

We hide parts of ourselves from people and no one knows us completely. This creates a mental health problem.  We live dual lives. One life crosses the values and identity of the other, which creates internal pain and suffering and intense shame. It is like a self-inflicted trauma. Its tiring to manage it all. It takes much less effort to be an authentic and whole person.  

So how do we become whole? One way is to share our lives with someone – a trusted friend, a group of recovering people as in a 12-step group or a therapy group, a professional, a God of our understanding.  It gives others an opportunity to know the whole us, the whole person – not just a persona we project. Once we receive their support without judgement, that awful feeling of shame and isolation dissipates and a new power flows in.

Become a whole person by recovering from addiction with other people

We tell our story

 It may be difficult and uncomfortable, but telling our story in a structured way to a trusted person is critical. It helps us understand why and how this happened rather than just being angry at ourselves or defensively blaming others.  This causes a shift in thinking from self-blame to self-empathy.  Instead of being engulfed by the addiction, telling our story provides an opportunity to step back and gain a different perspective on it.

It’s also therapeutic to unload the awful emotional burden and clean out the secrets we are keeping.  Afterwards, we should feel cleaner and lighter and ready to take on the challenge of the next stage. More work is ahead.  

How to recovery from addiction (stage 1): admitting our addiction, surrendering doing things our way, becoming whole by opening up to others and telling our story aren’t steps you need to do one at time. But to pass this stage you must do them all.

How to Recover from Addiction Stage 2.

~ Omar

Categories: Recovery Model