Featuring Kirk Chisholm LMSW, CASAC, RevCore’s Clinical Director
Q: I’ve struggled off and on with opioid addiction for many years. I’ve made a lot of progress and have been clean for six months, but it’s an ongoing struggle to stay on the path I’m on. How do I know I’ve achieved recovery?
A: First and foremost, congratulations on your six months of sobriety. That’s a significant accomplishment, and it’s important to recognize and celebrate your progress.
Recovery, as you accurately pointed out, is not a linear path. It’s a personal, ongoing process that is filled with challenges and victories, and each person must navigate it in their own unique way.
Because recovery is an individual and evolving process, there’s no one measurement for gauging recovery. To get a good sense of your progress, it’s helpful to periodically perform self-assessments.
Here are seven questions to help you evaluate your accomplishments and uncover potential areas for improvement. You may find it helpful to walk through these questions with a licensed mental health care professional.
1. How steady is your emotional pulse?
Emotional stability is a strong indicator of recovery. Ask yourself: are you feeling more in control of your emotions, and are episodes of emotional distress becoming less frequent? Have you developed skills to handle intense emotions without leaning on substances?
2. What’s your body telling you?
A thriving physical state can be a reflection of your healing mind. If your body feels brighter, chances are you’re on the right track. Consider any noticeable improvements in your sleeping patterns, appetite, and energy levels.
3. Do you have an inner circle of supporters?
Relationships undergo metamorphosis during recovery. Having a supportive social group speaks volumes about your progress. Is your network encouraging of your sobriety, or do your connections hold you back from reaching your potential?
4. How are you handling life’s stressors?
As life throws its curveballs, the strategies you employ can signal recovery depth. Have you replaced detrimental habits with positive coping mechanisms like exercise, meditation, or hobbies?
5. How’s your day-to-day routine?
Assess your competence in managing daily tasks. Are you able to perform your daily activities reasonably well? Whether it’s work, chores, or social responsibilities, your capability to handle them without feeling constantly overwhelmed signals progress in your recovery.
7. Is the glass half-full?
Do you feel a renewed zest for life? Or are you weighed down by what lies ahead? Your outlook showcases the internal shifts happening through recovery. Feelings of hope, rather than guilt or regrets, reveal that healing has occurred.
I commend your bravery and commitment on your path to recovery. Remember, recovery is less about crossing a finish line and more about embracing each bend in the road as it comes. What matters most is your commitment to staying on the path, seeking support, and celebrating your progress. Each new day is a step towards a healthier, more fulfilled you!