Each stage of recovery has certain tasks and signs of growth that are appropriate to that particular stage. 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. Let's take a look at the three stages of recovery:
Early Recovery: The necessary task to be accomplished in early recovery is abstinence. It is only after we have stopped taking the substance that Sobriety is abstinence in addition to a return to a healthy physical, psychological, spiritual and social lifestyle. In early recovery we want to learn the skills needed to become comfortable abstaining, not just hanging on by our fingernails.
Middle Recovery Stage: We have become comfortable in abstinence, now our task is to continue to change our lives for the better. We want to adjust our thinking and feeling so that a return to using is simply not an option. We also want to examine and start to repair damages caused by our addiction and attain a balanced lifestyle. We want to make it a priority to get relationships with ourselves, family, spiritual and our social environment in order. If something needs to be done we admit it and take some action to make it right. Middle recovery ends when we achieve "balance". We move on to the next stage when a good degree of stability and peace has returned.
Late Stage Recovery: Having a stable and secure recovery foundation under us here we may want to look at and resolve long standing issues or obstacles to health and happiness. These may be childhood issues such as abandonment or the development of low self esteem. Perhaps we came from a "dysfunctional" family system and got very mixed messages growing up that need to be addressed. This stage is marked by growth and challenge to become more than we had limited ourselves to previously.
Movement through these stages is not so much a function of how long you may have been abstinent, but rather what you accomplish in the phases of recovery.
By BILL URELL