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Recovery Roadmap: Step-by-Step Guide to Overcoming Addiction

The Mirror

The single most difficult step is the first one. It's not a coincidence that it's the first step in a guide to overcoming addiction. No doubt being honest with yourself is the most important and scariest damn thing to do. Own your atrocities against your family. Own the harm you have done to your partner. Own the tears shed as a result of your actions. If it hurts and you feel sick to your stomach, you are on the right track. You most likely made a deal with yourself in your mind to never even think about this shit again. I have bad news for you. This is exactly where we need to start in order to overcome addiction.



Often times the ability of a person to speak about the very worst of their rock bottom reveals how far along they are on the path of recovery. The good news is the more you confront these dark corners of your past, the easier they are to overcome. It makes sense the first time you attempt this it will feel like touching a hot stove. If you can realize that this is where the growth happens, the process will reward you beyond measure.


David Goggins, one of the planet's most disciplined and cherished "overcome" mentors, refers to this step in the process as the "accountability mirror" in his book You Can't Hurt Me. Brutal honesty with yourself will ensure the most efficient path toward sobriety.


A Tiny Step To Overcome Addiction

"Tiny" is important here. Contrary to the thought of a "leap of faith," this segment of the journey toward recovery is dedicated to humility. What you can accomplish today is not glorious. People don't admire this part and it won't be remembered in history books for certain. However, it's a start. People often don't get what they want in life because they never begin. Sometimes you just have to make a move. Sure, you're going to look like an ass the first time you try something. This goes for anything. Not just recovery. Remember it is a gift to begin like a fool. Why? Because this ensures you will be open to learning. In recovery, it's a certainty you will have relapses. That doesn't mean you don't try. What it does mean is that the first attempt has to be enough you can bear.


Waking up and saying to yourself, "Okay, here we go! One year sober, starting today!" You will undoubtedly be overwhelmed and never gain traction. It's a strong possibility it looks more like, "Okay. I'm not touching that fucking bottle for the next two hours!" And even still you might fall short of the goal, but that doesn't matter. What matters is you made a move and possibly managed 10 more minutes without using than usual.


Inventory Your Recovery Assets

Recovery assets are the various resources, skills, and supports that can contribute to substance abuse prevention and long-term recovery. These assets can help individuals develop resilience, coping strategies, and a strong foundation for a sober and fulfilling life. Here are some recovery assets commonly utilized in substance abuse prevention:

  • Supportive Relationships: Building and maintaining healthy relationships with supportive individuals, such as family, friends, mentors, or a sponsor, can provide encouragement, accountability, and a sense of belonging.

  • Peer Support: Engaging with others who have similar experiences and challenges can be invaluable. Peer support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) offer a safe space for individuals in recovery to share their stories, gain guidance, and receive support from others who understand their journey.

  • Treatment Programs: Comprehensive treatment programs, including inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation centers, provide structured therapeutic interventions, counseling, and medical support to help individuals overcome substance abuse and develop relapse prevention strategies.

  • Relapse Prevention Planning: Developing a relapse prevention plan with the help of professionals or support groups is crucial. This plan includes identifying triggers, creating coping strategies, establishing a support network, and having a plan of action to prevent relapse and respond effectively if cravings or difficult situations arise.

  • Life Skills Development: Learning and honing practical life skills, such as problem-solving, stress management, communication, and goal-setting, can empower individuals to navigate challenges and build a fulfilling life in recovery.

Hopelessness will tell you that you have nothing and this is not true. There are some resources out there. They might be hard to find. It may take a tough phone call to someone you have wronged in the past. However, it's important to use any leverage you still have. People want to help more than you realize. People and this includes society as a whole, want you to succeed.


Establish Positive Habits

Prioritizing self-care is crucial during recovery. Let's face it, when you're using, there are times when brushing your teeth and washing your ass simply slip down the priority list. Engaging in activities that promote physical, mental, and emotional well-being helps you manage stress, reduce cravings, and improve overall resilience. Get back into simple rituals that make up the majority of your holistic health.

  • Establishing a consistent sleep schedule: Aim for seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night to enhance your energy levels and mood stability.

  • Nourishing your body: Consume a balanced diet, emphasizing whole foods, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. Proper nutrition helps restore physical health and promotes mental clarity.

  • Engaging in regular exercise: Physical activity not only contributes to improved fitness but also releases endorphins, which can boost mood and reduce anxiety and depression symptoms.

  • Practicing relaxation techniques: Incorporate stress-reducing activities like meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or mindfulness into your daily routine to calm the mind and promote emotional well-being.

  • Drink water.

Easier said than done, right? If possible, search your inventory of accessible peers and find ones doing the right things. Do some of these right things alongside them if they're cool with it. Their positive habits will rub off on you.


An extremely powerful habit, if not the most powerful, is self-reflection through writing. A journal is so influential for progress and creating the habit to do it daily may be enough to string together some sober days. It's possible to get this done with a voice recorder, notes on your phone, Google Docs (great for referencing in the future), and a classic notepad and pen. What you write is not as important as you may think. What is more important is observing yourself. What are you doing right? What could you do better tomorrow? Your awareness of your daily activity will eventually manipulate your behaviors positively.


Enjoy Accomplishments


It does say in the previous paragraphs that the beginning won't be something to brag about. Yes, but that doesn't mean it wasn't super fucking hard to do and you did it. So, recognize that. Think to yourself, "I barely got through that, but here I am on the other side." Nobody else understands the effort you are putting out.


An important note here: nobody is going to celebrate with you until the whole damn thing is over. Or, in the case of sobriety, you have an objectively long period of sobriety. Only other people in recovery will understand how hard that initial 24 hours could have been to get through. Your addicted mind will quickly forget the enjoyment from remaining sober for some short period of time. So, do your best to remember the legitimate feeling of progress. Remember the possibility. You can get better and live a better life.


Employ Kaizen To Maintain Momentum

Kaizen is a Japanese concept of continuous improvement that involves making small, incremental changes to bring about positive transformations in various areas of life. By embracing the principles of Kaizen, individuals can experience significant improvements in their personal and professional lives. It encourages a mindset of constant growth, where even the smallest positive change is valued and celebrated. This approach fosters self-reflection, goal setting, and the development of effective strategies to overcome challenges. Through the consistent application of Kaizen, individuals can enhance their productivity, relationships, and overall well-being, and ultimately achieve their full potential.

life improvement, momentum in positive life change.


Momentum will be difficult to maintain and there will definitely be times when your foot is on the gas and when it's not. Imagine a graph, up and to the right is almost always better. Keep that progression despite the line not being perfectly straight.


Remain Agile

Not every step is forward and this guide to overcoming addiction addresses that things will happen that aren't according to plan. That's just life! What are you going to do about it? Relapse will come for you and you have to be prepared. Instead of being discouraged, view setbacks as learning opportunities. Identify what triggered the relapse, learn from the experience, and use it to strengthen your commitment to sobriety. You have to reorient yourself in every possible way that your achievement is most likely. Ryan Holiday writes, recognizing your biggest obstacles as an opportunity will ensure the steps backward or the sliding back down the hill, doesn't mean you stay at the bottom. Everything can be turned into a chance to learn, grow, and be more resilient.


Every person has suffering that they are up against. The degree to which you handle the suffering is a pretty good determinant of how well you lived your life once it's all said and done. There is no route where suffering is an option. It's your responsibility to suffer well. If it's coming anyway, you can prepare your mind and stand a chance against abusing alcohol or drugs to cope. This process is not complex, but it is outrageously difficult. The list of requirements to make it happen isn't long. Start with the decision. Just decide how it's going to be.


It's understandable you might be running thin on trying new methods. That's why this guide is short. Start with being honest with yourself. Stack up small wins. Realize you aren't starting from scratch. Build a system of positive habits. Celebrate the achievement. Practice Kaizen and remain agile in your thingking. Once you have made the decision to get better the process has begun. thinking




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