The Five Rules of Recovery

I have been reading this book “I Want to Change My Life. How to Overcome Anxiety, Depression, & Addiction” by Steven M. Melemis, Ph.D. M.D. In it, he discusses the opportunity for change and the five rules of recovery.  I have read the section over and over again.  It makes so much sense and I feel that it is key to having a long-lasting recovery, and felt that I needed to share it with everyone.


The Opportunity for Change

Your addiction has given you the opportunity to change your life. The fact that you have to change your life is what makes recovery both difficult and rewarding. It’s difficult because you have to change your life, and all change is difficult – even good change. On the other hand, recovery is rewarding because you get the chance to change your life. Most people sleepwalk through life, they don’t think about who they are or what they want to be, and then one day wake up and wonder why they aren’t happy.

People in recovery often describe themselves as grateful addicts. You may wonder why someone would be grateful to have an addiction. Because recovery has allowed them to find an inner peace and tranquility that most people crave. Recovery is your opportunity to be happier. You can look back on your addiction as one of the best things that ever happened to you.

The Five Rules of Recovery

Recovery is not easy, but it is simple. It’s not due to chance but governed by a few basic rules. If you follow these five rules, you will do well and enjoy your life. If you don’t follow them, you probably won’t.

Rule 1: you must change your life

You don’t recovery from addiction by just stopping drugs and alcohol. You recover by creating a new life where it is easier to not use. This is the most important thing that individuals and their families need to understand. If you don’t create a new life, then all the factors that brought you to your addiction will eventually catch up with you again.

You don’t have to change your entire life. There are just a few behaviors that have probably been causing you trouble, and they will continue to get you into trouble until you change them. The more you try to hold onto your old life, the less well you will do in recovery. The first rule is about creating a secure recovery. If you change your life, then many things will have to fail before you relapse. If you don’t change your life, the slightest mistake can lead to relapse.

Rule 2: be completely honest

Recovery requires complete honesty, you must learn to be 100% honest with people in your life. Who must you be honest with? You need a recovery circle that should include your family, doctor, therapist, 12-step group, recovery coach and sponsor. If you can’t be completely honest with those people, you won’t do well in recovery.

Lying leaves the door open for relapse. When you are completely honest, you don’t give your addiction room to hide. You don’t have to be completely honest about your recovery with everyone, not everyone is your best friend, and not everyone will be supportive of your recovery.

What does being 100% completely honest mean? It means you are completely honest from the present forward. It doesn’t mean you have to go back and rehash everything you did in your past, in some cases that can be more harmful than good.

Rule 3: ask for help

Addiction grows by encouraging shame and isolation. Recovery involves reaching out and asking for help from people in recovery.

Rule 4: relax every day

 Addicts use drugs and alcohol to escape, relax, and reward themselves. In other words, they use to deal with tension. If you stop using drugs and alcohol but don’t learn how to relax, then all the stresses that brought you to your addiction will still be there when you are tense, you will do what is familiar and wrong. It won’t take much to push you over the edge.

Rule 5: dont make your own rules

There are five rules of recovery, the fifth rule may not sound like the others, but it is just as important. It reminds you not to do things your way it didn’t work! Why not try something different? Don’t look for a loophole in recovery. Recovery requires commitment. Sometimes you will be tested. You have to expect that recovery will sometimes be hard. But it’s easier than active addiction.

Nothing changes, if nothing changes. If you don’t change your life if you don’t learn new coping skills if you don’t ask for help, what will have changed? Why will this time be any different? If you do what you’ve always don’t you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. You can change your life. You will do it by creating a new life where it’s easier to not use.



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