Time keeps on ticking....
On the 29th of October, I celebrated three years clean from drugs and alcohol.
In the grand scheme of my using career, that's about one quarter of the time I spent using, but still quite a feat for this recovering addict.
That date is dearer to me than any other day I can celebrate because I am alive, and most importantly, spiritually fit, because of the decision I made on that day, that decision that I WASN'T GOING TO USE, NO MATTER WHAT!
I have been reflecting on my journey in recovery thus far, and I have noticed the cycles I have gone through since putting down the drugs and booze. They seem to be the same for many of us, so if you or someone you love is in recovery from addiction, perhaps this may help understand the roller coaster.
It's important to note that while I've listed them in the order they usually occur, any addict is subject to going back to any stage at any time, based on the work they are putting in to get clean and stay clean.
1. The White Knuckle Phase occurs when you are simply trying to get through the day without using. The White Knuckle Addict is subject to outbursts and mood swings. This is a precarious stage, and should never be attempted without recovery support and daily maintenance. Some attempt to achieve permanent sobriety this way; regretfully, I've never seen it work. Ever.
2. The Surrender to The Process of Recovery Phase. Not to be confused with just not using, this stage is marked by going TO ANY LENGTHS to stay clean. Getting involved in the process, spending time with others in recovery, cutting old ties, and avoiding using situations. The miracle begins here!
3. The Arrogance Phase. "I got this, I'm never using again." One of two things happens here; either the addict has an awakening of the spirit and becomes humble again, or they use. Going back to stage 1 or 2 is the result of getting humble and either relapsing or clearly seeing that relapse coming. Service to others is a helpful tool for this stage.
4. The Acceptance Phase. "I have a disease and it's not going anywhere." This stage is marked by a regular recovery routine, service to others, constant spiritual contact, and the desire to carry a message of recovery, all from a place of empathy and humility. This stage is lifelong and is the gateway for addicts to find real recovery, go out into the world and change it, one day at a time.
My name is Rachel, and I am a grateful addict in recovery, and I will continue to do the work so I can make my mark on the world, however small it may be.
Rachel Trimble is a friend, a mother, a woman, and a lover all because she has been set free from the chains of addiction through recovery and love. Follow Rachel on Twitter @RachelTrm
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