Addiction Recovery Process: Steps, Principles, And Recovery Tools

Last Updated: July 6, 2020

Authored by Dr. Ahmed Zayed

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

Addiction recovery is a life-changing process that helps an individual recover from their addictions and attains a healthy lifestyle. When an addict, with constant determination and dedication, finally quits the addiction, a significant change in the overall life and environment is observed, which is also why recovery from addiction is highly encouraged among addicts of all age groups. Not only does this improve the health of an addict in recovery, but it also brings a drastic change in the way an addict views life. Furthermore, it helps with behavioral issues and addresses the root cause of addictions. Drug recovery is crucial for every addict, along with the determination and commitment to leading a healthy lifestyle, since it is a lifelong process.

Drug Addiction Addiction Recovery Overview

Benefits of Recovery

Happy young woman lying on green grass

Addiction recovery has a long list of benefits, and some of the basics include:

  • Self-control
  • Mindfulness
  • Reduced levels of stress and depression
  • Focused mind
  • Healthier body

Principles of Recovery

Addiction recovery is a highly personalized process that differs from patient to patient. It is influenced by a huge number of factors that include the type, condition, and duration of the addiction. However, there are certain principles that can be applied to all types of addiction recovery cases:

  • Recovery is a definite process that occurs in a variety of different forms
  • It encompasses healing and a desire to change for the better
  • Acknowledgment for change is required
  • The process of addiction recovery is empowering and stems from self-determination
  • It involves supporting a recovering addict
  • It instills a sense of belonging and involves giving back to the community
  • It encompasses a variety of cultural dimensions
  • It ensures the improvement of the overall health
  • The process must follow a holistic approach
  •  It leads from hope
  • It involves looking beyond the stigma and shame associated with drug and alcohol recovery

The Steps Of Recovery From Addiction

The majority of the addicts, whether suffering from a substance abuse addiction, do not know how and where to seek help. More often than not, self-help methods are opted for and tried because of the lack of knowledge about correct drug treatment. In addition to that, some addicts also think that it might be a shame or disgrace to confess about the addiction and stay in denial.
This is where steps of addiction recovery and their knowledge become crucial. The following steps will help recovering addicts to achieve long-term sobriety:

Acceptance of Addiction

A large number of people, suffering from addictions, stay in denial for a very long time, either intentionally or unintentionally. The initial step is actually accepting the fact that the addiction does exist, and drug recovery is crucial.

Learning About The Addiction

Most people suffering from addictions lack the knowledge of what addiction truly is. Often people who do not suffer from any addictions assume that it is a choice addicts opt for and look down upon the individuals suffering from addictions. However, it is not a choice. It is a disease that requires immediate professional care specific to the type of addiction an individual is suffering from.

Professional counselor and troubled teenager

Preparing for Recovery

There are certain steps that most people suffering from substance abuse follow to prepare themselves for the recovery process. These steps include:

  • Taking the first step towards recovery by accepting that you need help
  • Believing that recovery is possible
  • Making a firm decision to recover from one’s addictions
  • Educating oneself about the recovery process
  • Seeking help from an addiction therapist and recovery addiction services
  • Making the critical decision of enrolling in a drug recovery program
  • Be willing to make some major lifestyle changes
  • Don’t expect the recovery ways to be a quick fix
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions about drug addiction recoveries and recovery topics
  • Commit to the substance abuse recovery process whole-heartedly
  • Get support from addiction recovery group and the people around, including friends, family, coworkers, and peers who have been through a similar experience

Seek Professional Detox and Addiction Treatment

Initially, all drug traces have to be removed from the body. It should be done under the guidance of health professionals, who could implement NAD therapy, or other techniques, if necessary.

Healthy man drinking green smoothie
Later addition treatment programs vary from individual to individual depending on their addictions and its severity. Hence, specific 30-day drug treatment programs or long-term treatment plans are available to help patients find the best recovery plan according to their needs – since one plan cannot fit the requirement of all the addicts. There are two types of basic treatment programs that patients can opt for:
Inpatient treatment:
It involves staying at the rehabilitation center, hospitals, detox centers for a specific period of time.
Outpatient treatment:
In this mode of treatment, the patients are not required to stay at the facility. However, they do have to attend daily or weekly sessions. Treatment often involves detox programs, addiction counseling, and therapies.
Once these treatments are completed, relapse prevention programs are also arranged to prevent the addict from returning back to their addictions.

Crucial Recovery Tools

Recovering does not only mean quitting the addiction, but, in fact, it means creating such a lifestyle where the yearning for addiction does not exist. This is crucial because this is what prevents the chances of relapse in the future. There are certain tools that ensure the patient fully recovers and won’t face a relapse:

Learning to Ease Out

One of the major reasons why people start abusing a substance is because of the need to escape or to achieve a state of ease or relaxation. Most addicts think these substances help them de-stress. Hence, in order to recover, it is vital to find other recovery ways to relax, which do not include drugs or alcohol.

recovered woman relaxing meditating

Learning the skills to relieve stress without substance abuse is crucial for a healthy life. Stress relief is not a choice in the addiction recovery process – it is an absolute need. It would also include a briefing on the ways addicts can cope and relax.

Avoiding Risky Situations

Risky situations include the feeling of tiredness, hunger, loneliness, and anger. There are certain factors that can trigger these situations. The factors include the people around, places that remind the addict of the addiction, or even just random things linked to the addiction. In order to combat these situations, it is vital to face them all by making a list of these obstacles and then addressing them one by one by leading a healthy lifestyle, for example, eating healthier, not going out with a bad company of friends, and meditating and exercising regularly.

Coping Skills

When the pink cloud recovery symptom ends, coping skills should be learned to ensure a smooth recovery process include changing the negative mindset and preventing negative thoughts from entering the mind. These coping skills are now used very commonly and widely in the field of medicine.

anti-anxiety therapy

Surprisingly, these are extremely beneficial when it comes to treating psychological issues such as anxiety, depression, BPD, stress, and addiction. Furthermore, it is important to be ready to embrace the change and accept it. This is where cognitive behavioral therapy comes very handy.

How to Support A Recovering Drug Addict?

Individuals suffering from an addiction often find it difficult to talk to their family and friends about their dependencies. The patients feel ashamed of themselves and their behavior. They may also fear the stigma attached to their disease. The addiction recovery process is a long ordeal, so the patient’s friends and family should be highly supportive and comfort them during the rehabilitation.

 mother and dad support recovering teen

Here are some steps that one can follow to help out their loved ones suffering from addictions:

  • Find out more about what is addiction recovery and try to recognize the behavioral changes associated with it.
  • Make sure to avoid shaming the addict or stigmatizing the problem at hand.
  • Learn more about how to stop enabling behavior?
  • Encourage a loved one to seek help from a professional rehab. Addiction is a disease that demands professional care and recovery plan for addiction; the sooner it is provided to the patient, the better.
  • Support the patient throughout the addiction recovery process and encourage them to engage in recovery group activities for adults.
  •  If the patient fails to recognize their own addictive behaviors, or is unwilling to seek treatment, make sure to intervene and encourage them to seek professional help or rehabilitation.

The length of treatment may range from 28, 60 to 90 days, along with extended programs that promote sober living. After the professional recovery process is done at rehab, a person has to start leading a normal or a healthy lifestyle without the perpetual support from the professionals. This can be difficult for some people but can be made easy with proper transitional living facilities and the support of their loved ones.

Living In Recovery

Preventing relapse is the most important step after the recovery process is complete. It could be done by avoiding the company of friends who encourage substance abuse, going to pubs, or staying in a stressful environment. Furthermore, aftercare plan and stress relief strategies are taught to manage behavior and environment, which are the most common relapse triggers in recovery. The strategies include changing the environment to a more relaxing one, getting rid of toxic people, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy diet, and focusing on one’s goals.

Page Sources

  1. Alexandre B. Laudet, Robert Savage, Daneyal Mahmood, Pathways to Long-Term Recovery: A Preliminary Investigation,
  2. Aziz Kassani, Mohsen Niazi, Jafar Hassanzadeh,Rostam Menati, Survival Analysis of Drug Abuse Relapse in Addiction Treatment Centers,
  3. Alexandre B. Laudet, The Road to Recovery: Where are we going and how do we get there? Empirically-driven conclusions and future directions for service development and research,

Published on: September 28th, 2015

Updated on: July 6th, 2020

About Author

Dr. Ahmed Zayed

Dr. Ahmed Zayed is a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery. He is graduated from the University of Alexandria, Egypt. Dr. Ahmed Zayed has a passion for writing medical and health care articles and focuses on providing engaging and trustworthy information to readers.

Medically Reviewed by

Michael Espelin APRN

8 years of nursing experience in wide variety of behavioral and addition settings that include adult inpatient and outpatient mental health services with substance use disorders, and geriatric long-term care and hospice care.  He has a particular interest in psychopharmacology, nutritional psychiatry, and alternative treatment options involving particular vitamins, dietary supplements, and administering auricular acupuncture.


Leave a comment

  • John
    This article is so true! Staying clean and sober is a journey that happens every day. We all struggle with different stressors, anxieties and emotions everyday. But for someone who has recovered from addiction, the way they handle these situations is what keeps them from falling back into the pit they pulled themselves out of. That’s why it is so important that these individuals surround themselves with like-minded people and others that will support and encourage them on their journey in recovery!