Recovering from mental illness or substance abuse is about getting and feeling better and achieving a full, satisfying life. It is the process of change through which one improves their health and wellness, lives a self-directed life, and strives to reach one’s full potential.
The road to recovery is a process; it is not straightforward and does not happen overnight. Recovery is a journey and it requires defined, intentional steps toward specific goals. For some, recovery means gaining and retaining hope, developing an understanding of one’s abilities and disabilities, and engaging in an active life. For others, it means acquiring personal autonomy, social identity, a meaning and purpose in life, and a positive sense of self.
Here are the first steps to take in the journey to recovery:
Step 1: Recognize you have a problem.
- This may be the most challenging part of recovery, but it can be the beginning of a new life. The only way to make progress is for you to admit that you are struggling. Acknowledging that is the first step toward reclaiming your health, happiness and/or sobriety. Recognizing an addiction problem or recognizing that you need help with mental health can be difficult, but the most important step towards recovery.
Step 2: Decide to make a change.
- After recognizing the impact your mental illness or addiction has on your life and relationships, the next step is to decide to commit to making the changes necessary for recovery. Upon doing so, the process of gathering resources can begin, which includes admitting your issue to others. This keeps you accountable for beginning to make the changes needed.
Step 3: Acknowledge the need for professional help and seek it.
- Embrace the fact that you cannot recover on your own. Even if you are highly motivated and aware of your problem, it helps to commit to professional treatment. Research shows that many factors affect whether treatment is successful, including the severity of the problem being treated, your belief that the treatment will work, and the relationship between you and your therapist.
Step 4: Locate and make use of external support.
- Aftercare planning is a major component of any treatment program. This is when treatment professionals will help you identify external resources you can use on a continuing basis. This may include doctors, therapies, counseling, psychiatrists, or group support.
Step 5: Stay committed and continue making change in all areas of life
- Post treatment involves enacting the thought process and behaviors that were identified during treatment to promote positive change. This involves a tremendous amount of work and requires developing new skills related to self-control, regulating thoughts and behaviors, and developing a solid support system. And if a relapse occurs, don’t give up! Relapse does not equal failure. It is simply a setback on your successful road to long-term recovery. Allow yourself the opportunity to get back up again and continue your path of recovery.
Taking the steps to embark on your recovery journey can be challenging, but fortunately, help is available. Our goal at the Yavapai Justice and Mental Health Coalition to connect people who suffer from mental illness and/or substance abuse to treatment. Visit our website to learn more about therapy and recovery.