Reinventing the Concepts of Recovery

Wouldn’t it be great if we could wave our magic wand and no one would relapse? Until we understand more about addictions (and we have work to do there), we will have to tackle relapse in other ways. Let’s look at a couple of possible breakdowns that might lead to relapse and find some ways to avoid the traps.

First of all, everyone is different. We can give a general plan and it is up to you (with your team) to make it specific to your vulnerabilities.

In working with my clients, here are a couple of key areas I’ve found that need to be addressed:


Many people use the excess to break out of their perception of “structure.” The Friday night binge has often been described to me as the unloading and/or dumping of the structure of the week. And yet, without structure, too much free time leads to excessive indulging.

Let’s make friends with structure. Maybe you grew up with a lot of “shoulds” and “chores, chores, chores.” This was a form of structure imposed on you. Now as an adult, you have the ability to set up a gentler structure that supports you accomplishing what you want, being who you say you want to be, and grounding you. How many of us have turned to our work in order to stay grounded when life threw us more than we thought we could handle?

The structure can be reinvented to include the practices you want to support who you want to be in the world. For example:

  1. Set up healthy foods on Sunday for the week.
  2. Set up an exercise schedule with a trainer or friend 3–5 times a week.
  3. Find your dharma and happily spend 20–40 hours a week giving the gift you were given back to make a difference in others’ life.
  4. Plan your family time to support your family and your recovery.
  5. Plan your friend time to support both of you.
  6. Plan your network of support time.
  7. Plan your meditating time.

Now, remind yourself this is not a structure imposed on you, but rather a self-designed structure that supports you being who you say you want to be. If you find yourself saying “I hate authority or being told what to do,” it is time for you to look back and see what was then and look at the present to see what is now.

A structure set up by you can be your best friend in recovery. I have clients who feel their meditation time or golf time or swim time was what helped them have a successful recovery. What will make yours special and successful?

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Psychotherapist, Speaker, Coach, and Author of “Backbone Power The Science of Saying No”