Almost all addictions follow a cycle or pattern. Coincidentally, the process of recovery is similar. Recovery follows a cycle. The process isn’t straight up like a set of stairs. A realistic recovery involves minor and even sometimes major setbacks, but that doesn’t mean you should give up.
Think of the recovery cycle more like a circle instead of a straight line, where individuals can move freely around the circle in either direction. Instead of going “down the ladder” or “backward on the line,” envisioning yourself making a temporary direction change seems less difficult and irreversible.
That’s because relapsing or having a setback is only temporary. It’s a natural part of recovery.
Did you know that no one expects you to be perfect?
Everyone has good and bad moments; a recovering addict’s experience is the same. And that’s okay.
Ask yourself right now…
Are you languishing or maybe even experiencing a plateau in your recovery? Or do you seem to be on track and flourishing?
No matter where you are at, you are still recovering and you deserve a lot of respect.
Keep reading to learn how to deal with those sluggish moments in recovery, understand the plateau effect and how to get beyond it, and how to move forward so you can flourish.
Feeling Stuck and the Plateau Effect
Regardless if you relapsed or not, or are simply unmotivated and feel apathetic, this can be a normal part of the process. You may experience days, weeks, or even months like you are stuck in the mud and don’t know how to move forward—you may not even want to.
This is okay—as long as you understand that you must keep going. The only thing holding you back is you.
Some signs that you are currently or are about to head in the opposite direction on the recovery circle are:
- You have stopped going to meetings and often make excuses not to.
- You begin to have stronger urges than normal that happen more frequently.
- You begin talking to people from the past that will not positively affect your recovery.
- You have taken less of an interest in new and constructive hobbies and activities, including relationships.
- You often become defensive when your addiction is brought up.
- You begin to isolate yourself more often.
- You have increased mood swings.
- You have strained your personal and professional relationships.
These are all signs that things aren’t going great. Some of these points are warning signs that a relapse could potentially happen if action is not taken.
The Plateau Effect
The plateau effect in recovery does not necessarily mean you have relapsed. It can seem like a lull in active recovery and things start to feel stagnant. There is a lack of motivation.
Think of it like being stuck in the recovery cycle. You aren’t going one way or the other; you are staying in one place unmoving.
This can be dangerous to your recovery efforts and progress.
The list of plateau signs is similar to the signs described previously.
Addiction experts say this about the plateau effect:
The plateau effect is defined as a state in which a recovering addict is not progressing in either a positive or negative direction. The reason for this occurrence is usually unique to the individual, but some common reasons for hitting the dreaded plateau include complacency, disappointment, and lack of motivation.
The most common reason for reaching this plateau, however, is unresolved issues. Whether it’s a repressed emotion or a new hurdle that you refuse to address head-on, unresolved issues can quickly lead to the destruction of all that hard work you accomplished in rehab.
Recovering addicts definitely don’t want to linger in the plateau state for too long.
How do you move forward and begin to flourish in your recovery once again?
Flourishing and Moving Forward
The first step in moving forward is to admit that you are stuck and that you need to do whatever it takes to get back on track. Whether that be asking for help, going back to meetings, or changing your lifestyle, a plan of action needs to be put in place.
Admit that you are vulnerable. Understand that this is part of the process and the recovery cycle. Give yourself grace and compassion during this time. Being hard on yourself for being stuck in a rut is not going to help the situation.
Here are 10 tips for getting un-stuck and back on the road toward recovery:
- Take advantage of aftercare programs
- Schedule a doctor’s appointment
- Find the cause with a therapist or counselor
- Watch or read inspirational content (and stay away from the negative!)
- Join (or go back to) a recovery support group
- Repair broken relationships and reconnect with loved ones
- Learn a new skill or get into a new hobby
- Practice alternative therapies (e.g., yoga or meditation)
- Sign up for a volunteer opportunity
- Change up your routine
There is a variety of things you can do to take your recovery from languishing to flourishing. It all depends upon your own situation, your resources and support from others, as well as the motivation you possess.
There is hope, and it is possible to continue active recovery!
Are you currently looking for a team of positive and highly recommended professionals to help you get back on track?
Continuum Recovery Center of Colorado in Denver is ready for your call! Their holistic outpatient drug and alcohol programs may be just what you are looking for. Continuum offers a variety of groups and holistic treatment services that can be tailored to your individual needs.
Contact them today and take the right steps toward sobriety.