Dear Ms. Laura, I tried to talk to my sister about which stage of recovery she is in, I wanted to show that I have learned a little about her struggle to be sober. She said she has gone through the 12 steps, and now is working on staying sober. She did not know what I was talking about the stages of recovery, she has been going to NA for 6 months, and has not used her drug of choice, crank. She has a sponsor that is keeping daily contact and taking her to NA meetings. Why didn’t my sister know about the DMR?
Dear concerned sibling, “Cheers!” to you for your loving gesture toward your sister. I do not know why she is unaware of the Developmental Model of Recovery, but I can guess that your sister skipped the “Preparation Stage- gathering information”, and went into the “Action Stage” joining NA, to get clean.
Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous use The 12 Steps as a process for change and guidelines for living. As the individual works through the steps they come to reassess the priorities in their life, specifically through sharing experiences with other people who have had the same struggle. Other support groups use the 12 steps, overeaters, gamblers, World of Warcraft anonymous- all use the steps that were developed by Dr. Bob and Bill W. for AA. The 12 steps are a process for changing a specific behavior. AA/NA groups do not give advice or act as therapists. So, individuals that go directly to AA/NA, do not get the depth of education concerning the disease concept of Chemical Dependency and Recovery.
Treatment Programs with professional counselors will:
- educate the client and family about the brain damage and recuperation challenges and strategies: PAW and cravings
- examine the personal thinking errors that have led to false beliefs, blaming and resentments
- address the skills needed to break the strong cycle of dependency, coping skills: stress management
- create an environment to actively practice (role play) and relearn effective communication techniques
- involve the family for services
- 30-60 day program will assist the client into “Early Recovery”, by helping the client prepare a written “Action Plan” for their personal recovery program and an “Action Plan” for relapse, prior to graduating the program.
One of the tasks in Stage II- Stabilization, is to eliminate “euphoric recall ” of drug use, this is where AA/NA are helpful, to hear the stories of others and to testify to your own story of destruction, the memories of the use will become regretful and triesome to remember. Warning: a person cannot get stuck in AA/NA “war story” time, as this does not allow for new memories to be created, because talking and thinking about a situation “feeds” the old memories, not allowing them to shrink. During the stabilization of the brain, this is a needed support. Many counselors suggest 30 meetings in 30 days. However, there is a wide spectrum of need where AA/NA are concerned, some might feel the “family” need from the group and stay a while longer, to a person that is comitted to 1 meeting a week. Terence Gorski, expert in the recovery process, compares in his book ” Passages Through Recovery”, the DMR to the 12 Steps:
- Active Use= Step 0
- Stage I- Tansition, Stage II- Stabilization = Steps 1, 2, 3 Approximate Time line: 3-6 months
- Stage III- Early Recovery = Steps 4,5,6,7 Approximate Time line: 3 months – 1 year
- Stage IV- Middle Recovery = Steps 8,9,10 Approximate Time line: 3 years
- Stage V- Late Recovery = Steps 1,2,3 Refocused Approximate Time line: 2 years or longer
- Maintenance- A Lifetime of Growth = Steps 10, 11, 12
The above break down is a straight line, but full recovery is never a straight line. Chemical Dependency is a disease with a tendency towards relapse, and stuck points in the road to recovery may keep an individual from moving to the next stage in the DMR. Please remember that the pace of recovery depends on a few pre-existing factors: individual brain strength, length of use, method of use, level of coping skill before the onset of drug use, employment and shelter. All contribute to the process of moving from abstinence into sobriety.
There are many choices for those who desire to change their behavior and overcome alcohol and drug use, some choices are harder than others, but for the determined individual… “All roads lead to Rome”. Keep strong.
This column is for the delivery of alcohol and drug information. Responding to your questions and comments. Remember, if you have a question, many people have that same question. Please ask. Laura