Powerful addiction recovery plans are individualized, concrete, and attainable. They consider the individual’s strengths and weaknesses to create a plan that can realistically maintain long-term recovery.
Identifying and prioritizing your recovery goals is the first step in creating a recovery plan, followed by creating specific, actionable steps to help you achieve them.
You won’t be able, and it is not recommended to try and achieve all your recovery goals at once. A strong and committed support network will help to keep you on track and provide a little extra help when you need it.
The Importance of a Good Recovery Plan
Recovery plans play an important role for people recovering from mental illness and addiction.
Mental health professionals agree that thoughtful preparation and planning are imperative for making a successful recovery. Good recovery plans identify goals and outline specific and attainable steps to help you reach those goals.
Entering recovery without a well-structured plan can leave you feeling confused and cause you to become distracted along the way.
A powerful recovery plan keeps you focused and has pre-identified actions to take in response to challenges that arise on your recovery journey.
A good recovery plan draws on the individual’s strengths and motivation for change. It uses these factors to develop a strong and realistic plan for achieving and maintaining sobriety.
Likewise, weaknesses are identified so that they can be properly addressed in the plan and increase the likelihood of success.
A Powerful Recovery Plan
According to recovery coach David Susman, Ph.D., there are 10 key points to include in your recovery plan. The points will help you keep your plan focused on important factors that will aid your recovery.
Prioritize Your Goals
Start with the goals that will support your health and immediate basic needs, such as employment and housing. Move on to additional goals once the top priority ones have been met.
Write Your Plan Down
By putting your plan in writing, you are making a concrete plan to commit to. Additionally, having a physical plan gives you something to refer back to. This can help you to ensure that you are sticking to each step and preparing for what comes next.
Begin Working on One Goal at a Time
Each goal will need its own plan. It is often overwhelming to create multiple plans at once, so start with the most important goal first. Once you have a concrete plan for that goal, you can plan for your next goal.
Identify Specific, Actionable Steps
Actionable steps should be small, achievable steps that build on one another toward achieving your goal. Each step should be realistic and measurable, so you know when it is completed, and you can move on to the next step.
Write Down Specific Time Frames for Each Step
Including time frames in which you hope to accomplish each step or how often you will engage in a new healthy habit, such as once a day, twice a week, or every month, will keep you on track and moving toward your goals.
Use Your Support Team. Don’t Try to Do it All Alone
Recovery is a long and difficult process that is greatly aided by the help of loved ones. Shame, anxiety, and fear often prevent people from reaching out for help, but friends, family, community members, and health care professionals are ready and waiting to help.
Identify Your Emergency Contacts.
If a relapse or medical emergency occurs during your recovery, it is good to have emergency contacts on hand. These may be close friends or family members, but they can also include 911, crisis hotlines, therapists, or sponsors. You may never need to use them, but it is best to have them available, just in case.
Include Rewards for Completing Steps Along the Way.
Rewards are a great form of positive reinforcement you can give yourself for taking steps toward your goals. Rewards can be small and given daily, or they can be given after significant steps are achieved. Rewards should be fun, affordable, and promote health.
Commit to Yourself and Your Support Team.
It is most important to make a sincere commitment to yourself to follow through with your recovery plan. Making a verbal commitment to your support team can be very powerful in making you feel accountable to not letting yourself and others down.
Pick a Day to Begin.
Like the rest of the points in your plan, the start date is a purposeful point to kick off your recovery journey. Share your dates with your support team so that they are aware of what you are doing and can help when needed. Your start date may be immediately, or you may have a reason for it to be in the near future. Don’t make it too far off, however, as plans left to linger too long are less likely to be fulfilled.
Points to Consider
When creating a recovery plan for yourself, it is important to make a plan specific to your needs, goals, and abilities. Both internal and external factors impact the recovery journey and are unique to each individual, and a recovery plan should be just as unique. Recovery plans are not one-size-fits-all.
Researchers evaluating factors that contribute to recovery following treatment have found that taking on too many recovery goals and activities all at once can leave people feeling pressured to do too much too soon.
Rather than promoting personal development, an overload of goals can become a limiting factor for long-term recovery.
Finding positive social support is one of the most significant factors for promoting recovery, especially after completing a treatment program. People in recovery find significant support from within the recovery community and are often able to work on their goals together.
How to Implement Your Recovery Plan and Stick to It
It is one thing to conceptualize and write out a recovery plan, but it is a whole other thing to put that plan into action. Once you have set your start date, stick to it, and begin. The decision to get started is often the hardest part, but the momentum you develop as you see yourself progressing through the steps and achieving your goals will keep you moving forward.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), points to help you implement and stick to a recovery program include:
- Identify and draw on your available resources.
- Ensure effective communication between your support network.
- Repeat important messages or requests for help to make sure everyone heard you.
- Conduct an ongoing review of your plan.
- Evaluate your results as you progress through your steps.
- Stay current by keeping involved with community recovery programs.
- Involve friends and relatives to keep them educated about your goals and progress.
- Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it. That’s why your support network is there.
By the time you are ready to implement your recovery plan, a lot of effort has gone into planning it and engaging people who will support you throughout the process. This doesn’t mean that you can’t update your plan as you go.
To make your plan more effective and to help you stick to it, you might need to make adjustments along the way to keep it relevant, sustainable, and effective.