As human beings, our first instinct when something is wrong is to look around our environment and see what’s causing it. We begin making environmental changes as a solution. A new partner, living situation, job, etc. Eventually it dawns on us that the common denominator in our problems is us.
Oh my. What a potent moment of awareness. Initially painful, this awareness means we can no longer blame external circumstances, people and institutions for our addictive behaviours.
But the beauty of this moment is that, if the problem is within you, you can do something about it. No longer do you need to try to control and manage people, places and things around you.
You can become empowered. Once clarity arrives, you can get the right tools for the right problem. We call this the awareness, acceptance, action journey and it’s truly liberating. Once you realize what is causing the problem and come to terms with it, you can begin taking action.
Do you have dreams that were left behind in childhood? Do you have relationships that need healing? Do you have a supportive employer? Are you resilient? In other words, what are you working with in terms of areas to nurture and empower and nourish?
It’s our job to find the little sparks of life, the spirit that has been buried, the sparks of light that can be nourished and fanned into life. Finding yourself depleted, bewildered by the quality of your relationships, it may feel incredibly difficult to muster up the motivation to make changes. That’s where your recovery community comes in, providing a guiding light, tools, nourishment for body, mind and soul.
Prior to seeking treatment, it’s common to believe that if you can control your dependence, detox from your substance or change your outer circumstances, you’’ll be recovered. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
The complexities of being human mean the illness is woven into the fibre of your being. In other words, removing or controlling the substance, situation or behaviour is the tip of the iceberg.
Motivation is everything when it comes to renovating a life. It’s important to identify what you have that inspires you and that supports wellness. Additionally, look at any obstacles that need to be removed. What areas do you need to heal and grow and develop?
We call this process identifying recovery capital.
What is Recovery Capital?
Recovery capital is defined as the depth and breadth of internal and external resources that can be used by you to begin and sustain recovery. It is a concept that respects your entire experience, taking into account every facet of your life and identifying what will support or obstruct your recovery.
Whether you’re in a state of addiction or a state of recovery, your life is being influenced by the same social, economic, behavioral, and environmental components that promote or hinder wellbeing. Recovery, like life for someone not affected by addiction, is an ongoing dialogue with those components. Just as addiction is a progressive illness, recovery is a progressive healing process.
The recovery capital approach gives you a solid foundation on which to build sustained recovery. It can strengthen your commitment to recovery and highlight triggers that motivate you to seek relief with addictive behaviours.
Areas to explore
1. Personal Recovery Capital
- Physical health
- Educational/Vocational skills
- Meaning and/or purpose in life
- Interpersonal skills
- Capacity for problem solving
- Self Esteem
- Self Confidence
2. Social Recovery Capital
Here we consider the state of your intimate, familial, and social relationships and whether or not they’re supportive of your recovery. It can be difficult to see you change and get well. Some relationships are built around you being unwell and your attempts to change will be met with resistance.
This unfortunate aspect of human behaviour arises when people feel threatened, and we all know change can be threatening. We often encounter this reaction to a person getting well, and it can include sabotaging behaviours. Behaviours that are driven by primitive survival fears and disordered attachments. For this reason, it is imperative that we address the entire system.
Incremental adjustments and adaptations within the family system lead to profound psychological, emotional, and spiritual losses. The family living in active addiction organizes around the crisis rather than their mutual values, and the illness becomes woven into the fibre of the family. Unfortunately, these coping strategies play a significant role in keeping the cycle of addiction going and parallel the progression of substance use disorder or process addiction.
Anyone in a relationship with someone with an addiction knows how frustrating it can be. Your natural instincts to be loving and supportive are beautiful. However, with an addiction, you end up inadvertently making the situation worse. We regularly see loved ones, employers and friends who have been helping for years, and over time they’ve become depleted, and the addiction continues to get worse. This is where it is evident that compulsively behaving in a way that has negative consequences applies to family as well. If you’ve been helping for years and the person is getting sicker and you’re getting sicker, your behaviour qualifies as the definition of addiction.
By recognizing that addiction has a profoundly negative impact on systems, we can make significant changes that bring healing to all. New Dawn provides a therapeutic family program and encourages family members to embrace their own recovery journey.
3. Community Recovery Capital
Here we identify what perspectives and resources in regards to addiction are available within your community. Ideally addiction is met with compassion and resources that support recovery.
Recovery capital puts the emphasis on recovery for life. By identifying the recovery capital resources that work for and against you, you can create a recovery management plan that supports you for the long haul. You’ll have the benefit of understanding what works for you and what works against you. This makes the recovery capital approach personally enlightening and ensures you continue to thrive in your recovery.