When you hear the word “recovery,” different images might come to mind. You might think of recovering from a surgery or an illness, where you need lots of downtime and rest for your body to heal itself. Or, you might think of something a little less severe, such as a papercut on your index finger – with a little warm soapy water and a squirt of triple antibiotic cream, it’s well on its way to becoming good as new. 

With these kinds of recoveries, it’s a straight trajectory. You get injured, you treat the injury, the injury heals and disappears and life continues as normal. 

As easy as that sounds, not all recovery follows a straight line path. Recovering from substance use requires more than just a bandage and some downtime; it requires a choice to change, constant mental determination and the fortitude to recognize setbacks and celebrate successes, without allowing either to shake your resolve. Recovery is a process without a timeline. How do you quantify where you are on your journey toward freedom? We have some tips.

Picture a tornado 

Think of a tornado’s helix-based shape. They are spiraled, wider at the top and spiraling down into a much tighter cone at the bottom. This concept of moving around in a circle, but making a smaller circle each go-around is one way of effectively thinking about the path of recovery. 

Anyone will tell you the first step of recovery, recognizing and admitting to the problem, is undeniably the most difficult. It takes a great amount of humility and self-awareness to desire a change, a better life for yourself. And once you make this decision, it’s a challenging task of rewiring your brain. Challenging, but far from impossible. 

It’s important to think of recovery as a spiral because habits and ways of thinking created by substance use don’t just vanish the second you decide to give them up. You have to journey around that first level of the spiral; it might take longer to make it all the way around, but this is okay. It’s important to give yourself grace, to lean on trusted family members or friends for support, and to understand the newness of it all. 

Did you master riding a bike or parallel parking the first time you gave it a go? Probably not! But did you try again until you figured it out? Hopefully, yes. This mentality of fighting through the challenge is the same for recovery. You won’t master it the first time you circle the spiral. And that’s perfectly normal. 

Confronting relapse 

You likely already know that recovery offers its share of difficult moments as well. Undoubtedly there will be moments of pride when you realize how far you’ve come, and you should revel in those! But the hard moments are just as real, and will surface throughout the recovery process. However, as you progress around the levels of the spiral, you’ll be equipped to handle the same challenges faster and more efficiently, with more motivation and determination than last time, as represented by the shrinking diameters of each circle’s spiral. 

Around and around we go – but not quietly

At Real Recovery, we know that people are looking for help effectively managing substance use challenges. We strive to help our clients reach freedom, while embracing the reality that feelings arise, and these feelings can be anything but free and joyful. Recovery from substance use requires tackling some difficult thoughts and feelings, which can leave anyone feeling exhausted or beaten down.

However, we like to treat these thoughts and feelings as cars passing by on the street — you see them, acknowledge their presence, maybe make note of its color or model, and then hear it drive away without leaving a lasting impact.

Passing thoughts and feelings should be treated like these passing cars. We see the feelings, acknowledge them, and then let them pass on through without incapacitating or plaguing us. By learning mindfulness in this way, you’ll be able to consistently progress toward substance use recovery despite any setbacks that might come your way.

No matter the step 

Regardless of where you’re at in your journey to recovery, we’re ready to walk with you. Recovery is not a solitary journey. Take steps toward conquering the spiral of recovery when you call (855) 363-7325 or reach out today. Our PHP, IOP and Outpatient clinical services can help you turn the tide in your fight against substance use.

There’s no timeline for recovery. So long as you’re taking each step in stride, fighting through potential triggers and standing back up after potential relapses, you will continue to recover.