Progressing Through the 5 Stages of Addiction: Stage V

If you've made it to Stage 5, congratulations - you're on your way to recovery!

Experts consider recovery the fifth stage of the addiction process, and it’s so much more than overcoming a dependency to drugs or alcohol. It’s a complete transformation of mind, body and spirit – and an ongoing process that spans the rest of your life.

The Choice Really is Yours

When I was released from prison, I knew I had a choice: Go back to my old way of thinking and living, or continue going down a much happier, healthier path.

The truth was, without alcohol in my life for several years at that point, I looked better and felt better about myself than I had in years. And despite the temptations and occasional triggers, I knew that I had come too far and sacrificed too much to ever revert back to the person I was before.

That’s not to say the recovery process has been easy. My first year back in the “free world” was plagued by many curve balls and setbacks. I had to abandon friends, activities and behaviors that were a significant part of my “old” life. But even more so, I had to learn how to deal with the personal and professional stigma society places not only on convicted felons, but drunk drivers.

The Sky’s the Limit

Maintaining your sobriety requires work. In order to guard against relapse, you must actively monitor your thoughts and behaviors, stick to a structured routine and maintain a healthy support system. It’s crucial to forgive yourself and let go of the past. It’s also important to take care of yourself physically and emotionally, which involves getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet and maintaining a positive circle of friends. After all, being hungry, lonely or tired simply sets you up for relapse!

Because of the intensely personal qualities of addiction, no two people follow the same path during the recovery process. Some go to rehab, others rely on a 12-step program to get help. But, despite the variety of options, there’s no “right” way or one-size-fits-all approach to staying clean.

Do what works for you and know that you have what it takes to keep moving forward. I promise…it’s worth the effort.

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