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Recommitting to Recovery

Updated on February 7, 2015
A plateau in the upward journey of recovery
A plateau in the upward journey of recovery | Source

Have you reached a plateau in your life or your recovery and been discouraged or bored?

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Plateaus in Recovery and Life

For many people in recovery, there is a plateau at about nine months. Sometimes it's emotional and feelings begin to level out. For others, there seems to be some judgment about whether they are making enough progress or not. While they are glad that the emotions have finally stabilized, they don't understand why it feels like something is missing some days.

They are going to meetings, discovering things about themselves, making changes, and yet, they become increasingly impatient for more. They forget to be appreciative that their family is a little more trusting; that they are making new friends and have social outlets that do not revolve around the use.

Stable Times

Often we view times of stability as boring or uninteresting, With a change in attitude, we can be appreciative that we have stability instead of the chaos of our use.

One of the reasons that chips, medallions, and other markers are given to recognize people's time in recovery is that this recognition is important. They are reminders that provide an incentive. They validate our hard work. Statistically, a nine-month chip is the least picked up chip in AA/NA, where chips are the indicator of time. Why is that?

Plateau phases often separate those who have gotten clean to avoid consequences and those who are authentically embracing recovery. For those who got into recovery to placate others or an authority, at about nine months, many of the early restrictions are not hanging over their head. They are getting along with their family, the boss has moved on to other problems, and even their Probation Officer is being nicer. Unfortunately, progress in relationships is only one indicator that things are going well in recovery.

Plateaus Give Us Time to Reflect

So which are you at this point? Is it a time to recommit to lifelong recovery and accept that there will be ups and downs, frantic and stable periods, or that some days, life, not just recovery, is tedious. Sometimes questions help us reflect on our circumstances. So, particular to your recovery:

  • Do you need to reflect back on how it was for you before you got into recovery?
  • Do you need to review all of your missed opportunities from the use?
  • Do you need to evaluate or re-evaluate your goals and sub-goals for recovery?
  • Do you need to give yourself credit for the progress so far?
  • Do you need to discuss these feelings of a void or too full feelings with someone?

Plateaus: Not Just in Recovery

These plateaus are going to happen for everyone, not just in recovery, but in many occupations. For instance, the person who won't have a vacation for another year and they are bored with their job. Someone who can get a promotion in their present position and cannot receive training for another year and they have to do the same thing every day.

Alternatively, many students wonder why all this emphasis on the history of any country when they are a math major and could be finished in two years instead of four.

We sometimes do not understand, nor value what we are learning in the day-to-day, routine experiences until we have done something foolish and sacrificed them.

Mindfully Aware

So which are you at this point? Is it a time to recommit to the lifelong journey of recovery and to stop short-changing yourself with complacency and staying stuck?

  • Do you need to reflect back on how it was for you before you got into recovery?
  • Do you need to review all of your missed opportunities from use?
  • Do you need to evaluate or re-evaluate your goals and sub-goals for recovery?
  • Do you need to give yourself credit for the progress so far?
  • Do you need to discuss these feelings of a void or too full feelings with someone?

These plateaus are going to happen for everyone, not just in recovery, but in many occupations. For instance, the person who won't have a vacation for another year and they are bored with their job. Someone who is stuck in their present position and cannot receive training for another year and they have to do the same thing every day.

Alternatively, many students wonder why all this emphasis on the history of any country when they are a math major and could be finished in two years instead of four.

We sometimes do not understand, nor value what we are learning in the day-to-day, routine experiences until we have done something foolish and sacrificed them.

Reflection during plateaus in our lives lets us see where we have been.  It also provides us time to rejuvenate and be ready for the next opportunity.
Reflection during plateaus in our lives lets us see where we have been. It also provides us time to rejuvenate and be ready for the next opportunity. | Source

Plateaus: Good Time to Evaluate Recovery

Where are you in your recovery?

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Commit to the Course

We are not running a race with a distinct finish line when we are in recovery, nor are we running in circles completing nothing. It is more of a cross-country course - hills, straight-a-ways, and unexpected twists, with bumpy and smooth surfaces.

When we have patches in our recovery that seem flat, we need to learn to enjoy them for what they are - plateaus.

These lulls in our recovery also allow us time to prepare for the bumps in the road, or an uphill climb to carry out our next recovery goal.

Reflection during plateaus in our lives lets us see where we have been. It also provides us time to rejuvenate and be ready for the next Each person has lessons to learn that are unique, special and distinct.

Sometimes people trap themselves into judging their recovery progress by what others are accomplishing. Doing this can set up jealousies, resentments, or feelings of inadequacy. "Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly" is part of many readings at recovery supportive meetings and it is true.

How long it takes you to repair the damages to your life from your use is going to be different from others. However, comparing yourself will only net you dissatisfaction in your own progress or give you an overly inflated sense of importance.

So, view the plateaus of your recovery for what they are: a phase in mental or physical development during which seemingly little headway is accomplished. It may just be a time to reflect, be peaceful and express appreciation for the journey.

Reflection gives us an opportunity to see how far we have come in our recovery. However, it is not the end but merely one more stepping-stone to greater rewards in our recovery.

These plateaus give us the time, not just to reflect but to energize us to move forward with our lives and our recovery. Each step forward gives us additional opportunities to find a wider range of behaviors that will provide us with better outcomes.

Our lives and our recovery require that we do not linger long at the plateau; yet seek to enjoy it and move on.

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    • MDavisatTIERS profile imageAUTHOR

      Marilyn L Davis 

      4 years ago from Georgia

      Good afternoon, Billy; congrats on the seven years. I just celebrated 25, so I took some reflective time. Now writing again to encourage others in their recovery. You are correct, there is life after addiction.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great information. I just hit seven years. I stay busy and constantly reach for new plateaus. Life has never been fuller and life has never been more enjoyable. There is life after addiction if you want it.

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