Chemical dependency is a disease that causes a person to lose control over their use of mood-altering drugs or alcohol. This loss of control not only affects their use of the substance, but affects the user holistically causing physical, psychological, spiritual and relationship problems.
Each stage of recovery has certain tasks and signs of growth that are appropriate to that particular stage. Here are the characteristics associated with 3 stages of recovery: early, middle and late.
1. Early Recovery
The necessary task to be accomplished in early recovery is abstinence. It is only after you have stopped taking the substance that you can even start towards a healthy physical, psychological, spiritual and social lifestyle. In early recovery, you want to learn the skills needed to become comfortable abstaining, not just hanging on by your fingernails.
2. Middle Recovery
Now you may have become comfortable in your abstinence, but the next task at hand is to continue changing your life for the better. You want to adjust your thinking and feeling so that a return to using is simply not an option. You also want to examine and start to repair damages caused by your addiction and attain a balanced lifestyle. Make it a priority to establish a good relationship with yourself, your family and your social environment. If something needs to be done, admit it and take some action to make it right. Middle recovery ends when you achieve “balance.” Then you can move on to the next stage with a good degree of stability and peace.
3. Late Recovery
After setting a stable and secure recovery foundation for yourself, you are now ready to look at and resolve long-standing issues or obstacles to health and happiness. These issues can go as far back as abandonment in your childhood or the development of low self-esteem. Perhaps you’ve come from a dysfunctional family system and received very mixed messages growing up that need to be addressed. This stage is marked by growth and challenge so that you can become more than who you’ve limited yourself to be in addiction.
While going through these stages, keep in mind that progress is not so much a function of how long you have been abstinent, but rather what you have accomplished in each particular stage of recovery.
Which stage do you currently fall under: early, middle or late?