One of the preeminent factors for achieving lasting recovery is the need for personal development or self-improvement.

There are four key ingredients that must be adhered to:

These are humility, motivation, sustained effort and the restoration of meaning and purpose of life.  With these in mind, we at Spark of Hope have established the following “Personal Action Plan” for our clients:

1) Prepare for a personal marathon (not a sprint). You have solved many other problems in your life. With sufficient effort, you can solve this one. The first big milestone is 90 days, followed by one year. You don’t need to be perfect, or re-set the clock every time you slip. You do need to stay focused. The only way to lose this fight is to give up.

2) Determine whether you just need to work on an addiction problem, or whether you also need to address other life problems. You don’t need to solve these all at one time. However, you may need additional resources and help. Do not let this discourage you.

3) Make a beginning plan. It is too soon for a master plan. Identify a few small and easily accomplished steps. Set aside time each day to reflect on your reasons for making this change. Evaluate your progress (or lack thereof). Trouble-shoot problems, and determine what you need to do next. Regardless of whether your plan is to stop completely, cut back a lot, cut back a little, or even just assess the situation, identify your personal target and take daily action in that direction. On a daily basis, review how you are doing. What is working? What isn’t? Revise your plan as you go. Be careful not to overwhelm yourself with too much to do at once.

4) Expect that the transition period is usually the most difficult. This will be easier if you remember it will end. For most of us, the transition is 90 days. By that time, craving and irritability will have diminished considerably. Use your calendar as a visual motivator. Cross off each day as you approach the 90-day marker.

5) Remain focused on the reasons you are making this change. Motivation is central to recovery. Remain motivated by recalling why you are making this change. Even better, write down why and review it every day in your daily reflection time.

6) Remember the three fundamental facts about craving. Cravings are time-limited. Cravings will not harm you. Cravings cannot force you to use. Although cravings may increase in the first days or weeks, cravings eventually go away. Reminding yourself of these three facts will help to reduce the anxiety that accompanies cravings. Furthermore, find an activity that requires your focused attention. Your mind cannot dwell upon two things at once. If you keep your mind occupied, cravings have less power.

7) Get private (anonymous) input if you need it. Check out the websites, books and other resources in our Resources or Blog sections. Go anonymously into web-based discussions, comments sections, or message boards.  Be sure to check out our social media posts and feeds for the latest news and resources in addiction recovery.

8) Devote your time and attention to the two great pleasures of life: love and meaningful work (in that order). Build up your relationships. Focus on your work. If your job is less than fulfilling, consider what would make it more meaningful. Perhaps you might like to find some volunteer activity that gives you a sense of purpose. Love and work are your rewards. It is a good idea to give yourself lots of little rewards along the way. For some people, their addiction served as a reward. Spend time discovering a healthier way to reward yourself.

9) Involve some other trustworthy people in your project. Ask them to listen to you. When other people listen to you, they may feel compelled to offer advice and suggestions. Be sure to tell them you are NOT looking for advice, but would like them to listen to you. Recognize that relationships are a two-way street. Be prepared to listen to their stories too- perhaps you’ll learn something new!

10) Check out a few AA/NA meetings, and/or check out a few support groups. The choice you make may depend on your time and resources. When evaluating how much of your time and financial resources should be devoted to your recovery, consider how much money and energy you spent on your addiction. Hopefully you will prioritize your recovery as much as your prioritized your addiction!

11) Keep at it. Re-cycle through these actions. You may have overlooked how thoroughly you could have done some of them. Remember, sustained effort is one of the four key ingredients of success listed above.

12) Be creative. Perhaps you need to approach your addiction problems from a fresh perspective. Try some new activities. Try journaling. Plan some outdoor activities. Incorporate more exercise. Experiment with holistic services (acupuncture, massage, yoga, energy healing, Reiki, etc.). Consider volunteer work (care for the elderly, work with children). Express yourself through music lessons, art lessons, etc.

13) More treatment is the backup plan. If outpatient therapy is not enough, try intensive outpatient, day treatment, or partial hospitalization. Speak to your primary therapist or case manager at Spark of Hope.  They are trained to help you find the ideal treatment plan.  In these levels of care, you continue to live at home. Residential treatment is the final backup plan. Most people don’t need it. However, it can break a difficult cycle of addiction if necessary. Better to go to residential treatment than end up dead, disabled, broke, isolated, etc. Sure, it can be embarrassing or shameful, but put that into perspective. What part of your addiction isn’t/wasn’t embarrassing and shameful?! You are moving on to a life free from shame and humiliation. The steps that take you there are of no consequence. Embrace them!


If you or someone you love is struggling with issues of addiction, please call Spark of Hope at 1-844-398-9204 for a confidential and cost-free consultation.

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