Opinion by EHN Staff
Written by Peter A. Levine, a support counsellor who works at Bellwood Health Services.
It is common knowledge that a successful recovery process requires a healthy dose of compassionate self-care. What is not so frequently acknowledged is that a successful recovery process also requires a tremendous amount of hard work and daily commitment. Treatment centers often try to attract new patients by boasting about the relaxing self-care activities that are available on their campuses, such as meditation, yoga, swimming pools, spas, and wellness centers. I would agree that such rejuvenating activities are fundamental to a humane healing process that will be comfortable, nurturing, and fulfilling for the client.
However, treatment centers do not often advertise that they have rigorous and strictly (and compassionately) enforced regimes, policies, and requirements—even though these are strongly correlated with successful recovery rates. Challenging patients to be their best selves teaches them to learn the values of accountability, perseverance, respect, and responsibility. This appreciation of values, in turn, fosters self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-growth, which builds each patient’s resilience and ability to confront and overcome difficult challenges. Ultimately, there are no substitutes for the healthy rewarding feelings that result from making one’s bed in the morning, showing up to appointments on time and focused, and being accountable for one’s actions and behaviours.
In 2014, a video of a commencement ceremony address at the University of Texas in Austin, by US Navy Admiral William H. McRaven, went viral. The commencement address had the title “if you want to change the world, start by making your bed.” In the address, the Admiral claimed that if the first thing you do after waking up is to make your bed, then you will have started the day by having successfully completed a small task. Throughout the rest of the day, you can build on that first success, accomplishing progressively more important and more challenging tasks. Successful treatment programs are designed similarly: each successfully completed task provides a foundation necessary to successfully complete the next task. The interconnections between tasks and their progressive order helps patients build a solid foundation for a sustainable recovery and a healthy life, free from enslavement by addictive drugs and behaviors.
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