In the following article, The Stages of Recovery, I summarize the 3 stages of recovery as described in the book, Adult Children of Alcoholics.
I work with many people who use the 12 steps to recover from trauma and addictions. Many of my clients have been on the recovery path long enough to find themselves emerging into a place of freedom and power in their lives. Others have gotten stuck in the struggle and haven’t found that place yet.
Although this article is based on the ACA program, it can be applied to AA, Alanon, NA and any number of 12 step recovery programs. For some, recovery is a way of life. For others, recovery occurs as impossible. For all, recovery begins and continues with a combination of curiosity, willingness and conversation. I would be honored to part of that conversation.
Stage 1 – Stabilization
Most people recovering from addictions and other disorders can recover more successfully by working through the stages of recovery; which enables and empowers through self-knowledge, and self-growth. People in recovery find it helpful to first stabilize their addictions and/or other disorders for a time since otherwise, these problems are usually distractions from being able to focus on recovery issues and work. We call this stabilization period Stage One recovery work, which may take several months to years to complete.
Stage 2 – Desire to change
Many others may have no particular addictions or disorders and come to a recovery perspective because they are hurting or even “bottoming out” from emotional pain and now have a desire to change. This emotional pain and desire to change; whether from addiction, dependency and/or effects from life trauma, can usually lead directly into recovery work, which we call Stage Two. This desire to change usually takes a number of years to complete. The goals of Stage Two work include:
- realizing our True Self,
- grieving our unresolved hurts, losses, and traumas,
- finding and fulfilling our healthy needs, and
- working through our core recovery issues.
Stage 3 – Self Actualization
The final period, Stage Three recovery, is about refining our relationship with self, others, and God from a spiritual perspective. It usually becomes easier to realize a loving relationship with our Higher Power once we have done most of our Stage Two recovery work. This is because the false self or ego cannot experientially relate to or know God, and the only part of us that can do this is our True Self, which we come to know in our Stage Two work.
While the false self may at best try to intellectualize a relationship with God, our True Self does it from the heart, with fewer words needed.
I propose that recovery doesn’t necessarily plateau at Stage Three. Once we begin to operate in our lives from our True Self, we begin to see the possibilities in life which have been hidden. In Stage Four, living as True Self, recognizing the True Self in others, and experientially relating to God, we begin to visualize an inspired and compelling future. And we begin to live into a future unencumbered by the past because of the healing work we have done in Stage Two.
What’s going on in your life that you need to recover from? I highly recommend that you find a 12-step program that addresses your issue. You may or may not be struggling with addiction. This link to Wikipedia lists several of those programs.
Do you want to see how your emotions could be affecting your ability to get through the stages of recovery? Get your free copy of the Emotometer below.