Recovery Enhancement

Recovery from addiction does not have to be such an ordeal.  People early in recovery hear things like, “Once an addict, always an addict,” “You will probably relapse a few times before you get it,” or “You are powerless over your addiction.”  While there may be a time when these statements are true, it is possible to get beyond them and to really enjoy the fruits of recovery and not have to always be on guard, so to speak. Recovery enhancement is an approach to recovery from addiction that focuses on the positive aspects of recovery. The emphasis is what clients will gain from recovery and not what they will have to give up. The idea from this came to me after leading a group therapy session with alcoholics and addicts in a residential setting. One of the members had been sentenced to treatment and a week later would start a 5-year sentence for drug possession. I asked him what he would do during the interim week.  He said, “Man, I am going to stay hammered the whole time.” I was taken aback by this and asked who else in the group would do the same. To my surprise everyone in the group raised their hands.  It hit me like a lightening bolt. I went back to the staff and said, “We have been focusing too much on the disease and what it is all about and not enough on sobriety. No wonder all of them would return to using; getting high or drunk is all they know to do to enjoy themselves.  They have no idea how to spend a week sober, and it be rewarding or satisfying to them.” Recovery enhancement borrows from motivational interviewing, solution-oriented therapy, mindfulness and positive psychology to explore ways to enhance the experience of recovery. It creates balance to recovery and focuses on the addict’s strengths.  The goal is to feel so good that addiction is no longer appealing. A tall order? Indeed, but not if done in a proper way.