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The Single Most Important Recovery Habits that Could Change Your Life

Recovery is “A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential”, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Establishing a new “normal” to daily routines, avoiding high-risk situations that could lead to relapse, and staying motivated in recovery requires the ability to recognize the problems, find ways to change, and stick with those changes.

Since addiction habits are accumulated over the repetition of associated events, it will take the accumulation of changes and countering processes to be able to prevent addictive behaviors in the future. In other words, addiction is a learned process that requires time and consistency to “unlearn” habits that would impede recovery replacing them with positive and healthy ones. The following are the single most important recovery habits that could change your life.


Nearly all habits begin with a cue or a “trigger” to the rewards or goals of repeating the behavior. People are extraordinarily diverse in their backgrounds before drug or alcohol addiction, but, their characteristics become quite similar once dependency sets in and takes control of their behaviors, cognitions, emotions, and family dynamics.

Abstinence is the first important recovery habit to master if you expect to change your life. All other issues are secondary even though they obviously play a critical role in the person’s ability to remain abstinent for the long term. According to the Washton Institute, “Although abstinence is essential to relapse prevention, it is not the only issue. Recovery can be achieved only when patients change their attitudes and behaviors that led to and/or were associated with drug use.”

Seek Addiction Treatment Services

Addiction is a chronic and relapsing brain disease that, despite the best of wills, can only be effectively overcome with proper education, assistance, and strategic efforts to deal with cravings and the many unique needs that can derail recovery efforts in a heartbeat. According to the SAMHSA, “Recovery pathways are highly personalized. They may include professional clinical treatment; use of medications; support from families and in schools; faith-based approaches; peer support; and other approaches.”

Avoid High-Risk Situations

The first year in recovery is the hardest and if you are like most of us, it’s possible that many of the bad habits that need to be changed have gone unrecognized long before the addiction ever took you over. Give yourself the time you need to stay focused on your recovery and be honest. Anytime you let yourself get involved with people, places, or things that remind you of using, you’ll set yourself up for consequences you may or may not be able to handle. Some of the hardest habits to break include avoiding associations with others who use, letting go of the past, and getting rid of all reminders of use including paraphernalia and dealer phone numbers.

Take Good Care of Yourself

self care

Take care of your overall well-being during recovery.

Stay busy with positive and healthy activities to keep your mind off of using. Feeling lonely, tired, angry, or hungry, and trying to use other mood or mind altering substances to deal with boredom, resentment, and other daily life stresses can be a recipe for disaster if you are not properly equipped to deal with ensuing consequences.

Proper rest, nutrition, exercise, learning to relax, and letting go of stress, are important recovery habits that could change your life in powerful ways. You can’t expect one aspect of your life to be out of balance and not interfere with other areas. By the same scenario, healing comes from many different sources and more easily when you take overall good care of yourself.

Stay Motivated

Recovery motivations gain momentum when things are going well, but, when setbacks occur, they can be discouraging and are usually associated with higher probabilities for relapse. According to the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, “During recovery from substance abuse, relapse and regression to an earlier stage of recovery are common and expected—though not inevitable.”

Avoid getting stuck or discouraged. According to the SAMHSA, “motivation and personal change are inescapably linked.” You can no longer think of yourself in terms of limitations because of your addiction, but, you can accept it and continue to make short-term and meaningful recovery changes that you can build on and celebrate to stay motivated.

Build a Positive Support Network

The most difficult path to recovery is going it alone. Dealing with cravings, stress, health impairments, and other losses is better managed when you have someone to share your concerns with. Find support through mutual aid groups and other peers in recovery. Get those family members and friends involved who can support you in your abstinence.

Building a positive support network is one of the most important recovery habits you can use to change your life, giving back to others, and regaining a sense of belief in yourself to change for the better.

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