Let’s start with a few definitions found in the dictionary. The website Dictionary.com defines recovery the following three ways:
1) The regaining of or possibility of regaining something lost or taken away.
2) Restoration or return to health from sickness.
3) Restoration or return to any former and better state or condition.
When I watch someone going through the recovery process, I’m always interested in understanding whether or not they want to get well. There is an understanding that something isn’t right and they desire to make it right. This may sound basic and over-simplistic. However, I find that answering this question of “do you want to get well” is harder than you think, especially when things get difficult.
To “recover” is to put back in order that which is out of order. For most individuals struggling with addiction, they have turned away from their most important priorities. They need to restore those priorities and learn how to live in this new way on a more consistent basis.
My clients often ask me, “Am I in recovery?” I answer that question by asking them the same question above, along with others. “Do you want to get well?” “Are you doing everything you can to restore your life and relationships to health?” If the individual answers “yes” to these questions, regardless of how far along the path they are, then I say that they’re in recovery.
Recovery isn’t an event. It’s a process of making regular course corrections and learning how to live a more congruent life free from denial, blame, and shame.
True recovery is more of a state of the heart and mind as opposed to having checked off a list of behaviors that need to be completed. I would much rather see an individual struggling daily to fight for recovery than to have someone who is technically doing everything asked of them, but they have no real desire to get well.
The best way to get into this recovery state is to abide by the first three steps of the 12-step program. The abbreviated version is simply this: “I can’t, God can, and I’ll let Him.” This surrender allows the individual in recovery to open up to God for help, which then allows others who want to help to enter in and assist. This basic humility and surrender is the beginning of a true recovery. No one heals from this problem alone.
If you find yourself wondering if you’re in recovery, look at the definitions I listed above and see if you’re in the process of restoring something back to a better state. Ask yourself if you’re trying to regain something you’ve lost. And, see if you’re moving from sickness to health. Ask God if this is happening. As you sincerely seek to understand what full recovery looks like, your journey and process will become more clear.