Recovery comes to us in steps. As much as we might wish for a magic wand that could wave our suffering away, sobriety doesn’t work that way. Instead, we must make small, meaningful changes that add up to a revolution.
We start that journey with stability.
When it comes to recovery, stabilityis the moment at which our addictions are beginning to resolve. At this point, we’re ready to move away from acute, intensive care. We’re prepared to move back into our normal lives while we continue to work on our cravings.
It all sounds so simple. And yet, this crucial part of the recovery process is often overlooked. Sometimes, it’s even botched.
Traditional Approaches Can Worsen Addiction
We all come to addiction via different pathways. Sit down two people struggling with an addiction to the same substance, and their stories are likely to vary in many ways. But for plenty of people with addictions, there’s a trigger that’s too powerful to face without help.
Consider mental health. The National Institute on Drug Abuse(NIDA) says people with anxiety disorders or mood issues are twice as likely to have a drug habit when compared to those without mental health concerns.
Next, consider trauma. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrationsays traumatic episodes (including assault, rape, and war experiences) have been linked to addiction issues.
In the past, your recovery path would involve:
Identifying your trigger.
Examining that issue.
Breaking down the relationship between the trigger and drugs.
Exploring how to break the connection.
For many people, substance use emerged because it was impossible to deal with the mental health crisis or the damage sparked by trauma. Drugs were our escape from the pain. Pulling substances away and forcing us to look those problems in the eye didn’t always result in healing. For some, it made things worse.
Traditionally, we measure therapy effectiveness via relapse rates. As NIDA points out, relapse doesn’t mean treatment didn’t work. But it does mean the therapy wasn’t the right choice, and a new approach is needed. Considering that relapse rates hover at about 50 percent, isn’t there a better way?
Easing Into Recovery
Focusing on stability means building a sober foundation, and you’ll build on that for the rest of your life. Rather than plunging right into therapy that might re-traumatize you and worsen the addiction impulse, stability therapy aims to help you feel better, stronger, and more capable of fighting back.
The mix of tools you need to develop stability can vary. Your treatment plan should be customized and personalized, so your program addresses your specific issues.
But often, there are three anchors involved in stability work.
Medication: Addictions stem from imbalances in brain chemistry. Correcting those issues (when possible) can reduce cravings and clear your mind. The result: You’ll feel calm and focused, and that helps you participate in recovery activities like therapy. Prescription medications can also ease some mental health challenges.
Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT):How does your self-talk influence the decisions you make? Therapists know that changing your thoughts can mean changing your life. This form of treatment helps you identify and replace those thoughts that lead to helplessness, hopelessness, and drug use.
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT): Can you handle pain, or do you feel the need to change the situation immediately? Distress tolerance can keep you from reaching for a drug solution. DBT aims to help you build distress tolerance while picking up skills you can use to change your behavior.
We can add to this mix by offering services that help you focus on what’s happening right now, rather than homing in on things that happened in the past or problems that might crop up in the future. Yoga and breath work are just two examples of other services that can support your stability.
When Will I Be Stable?
While there are no hard-and-fast statistics about how many people recover from addiction (although Oregon is trying to change that), know that there are thousands of people just like you who are now sober. And all of them started with stability.
Stability is the first step on the sobriety journey. When you feel strong, capable, and ready to fight back, you’ve achieved it.
At Y&Y Recovery, we focus on stability. Our programs and services are designed to build your skills while respecting your past, so you’ll be ready to leave us and continue the journey outside our walls. Consider us your partner on the first — and arguably most important — part of your recovery.
Find out more about who we are and what we do by calling 888-877-7326.
Severe Mental Illness Tied to Higher Rates of Substance Use. (January 2014). National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Treatment and Recovery. (July 2018). National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Trauma and Violence. (February 2019). Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
It’s Time to Measure Addiction Recovery Rates, Not Just Addiction Rates. (August 2018). Stat.