Developing Your Personal Recovery Plan (Template Included!)
Regardless of whether you are currently in an addiction treatment program, you have already finished a program, or you are going it alone in attempting to manage your addiction, you need to have a plan.
Why Create a Personal Recovery Plan?
Creating a personal, written recovery plan is important for several reasons. First, it gives you a blueprint to follow. It provides a structured, reliable source of good ideas to get or keep you on track as you pursue your recovery goals. It can be all too easy to forget or avoid commitments if they are merely ideas that are being held in your mind. This is especially true if you become stressed, if you experience a break in your motivation, or if you find yourself facing temptation. But by writing out a formal, detailed plan, specifically designed with your needs and goals in mind, you greatly improve your chances of sustaining your recovery efforts. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, on their MentalHealth.gov website, list the following benefits of creating a personalized, written recovery plan:
- Identify goals for achieving wellness
- Specify steps to take reach those goals
- Consider both daily activities and longer term goals
- Track your progress
- Identify triggers and ways to manage them
Preparing to Create Your Personal Recovery Plan
Before you begin to write out a plan of action for your recovery, you need to first assess your current status and decide upon your major needs and goals. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- What are my motivations for making this change? Keeping my job, my family, my friends? Improving my self-esteem and regaining pride in myself and my behaviors? Feeling better and becoming physically healthier? Other reasons?
- What challenges will potentially be my biggest barriers? Are my coping skills currently limited? Do I have sufficient support systems (family friends, support groups) in place for times when I may need assistance and encouragement? Do I have legal or financial issues to address as part of my plan of action?
- Can I commit to following the steps I create in order to change my life? Can I honestly say that I am ready to make a major, positive change in my life and that I am willing to do what it takes to make it happen?
If you can identify your motivations, understand your challenges and recognize that the outcome will be worth the effort, you will be ready to create your plan.
Components of Your Personal Recovery Plan
When you are ready to write your plan, make lists of the elements that you will want to address:
- Personal triggers (places, circumstances, people) to avoid
- Specific strategies for addressing each identified trigger situation
- Ways to improve self-care (relaxation strategies, socialization opportunities, health and wellness strategies – sufficient sleep, good diet etc.)
- Coping skills you need to learn or to improve (anger management, emotional self-regulation etc.)
- Relapse prevention strategies (go to support group meetings, have a “sober buddy,” attend counseling, etc.)
Writing Your Personal Recovery Plan
You can create your written plan any way that feels most natural to you. In general, you’ll be making “promises” about the positive changes that you plan to implement, in order to uphold your recovery and remain abstinent. In addition, you may also want to commit to certain consequences that you will be willing to incur, should you not live up to your promises. You will also want to detail specific steps that you will take to address each problem or issue that is a threat to your sobriety.
Below is a sample template for a Personal Recovery Plan:
Personal Recovery Plan
Personal triggers that put me at risk for using:
- Going to Sam’s Bar after work with my co-workers.
- Drinking beer with my buddies when we go fishing.
How I will address each trigger:
- I will drive home immediately after work, taking a route that avoids Sam’s Bar, and I will not make any stops.
- I will take a cooler of non-alcoholic beverages to drink during fishing trips. I will also select non-drinking friends to accompany me on fishing trips.
Ways I will increase my self-care:
- I will go to bed by 11 pm so that I get eight hours of sleep each night.
- Instead of eating a sugary snack when I arrive at work, I will pack some fruit and cheese to eat instead.
Coping skills I will learn or improve and how I will do this:
- I will decrease my stress level and “let off steam” by joining a gym and working out three times a week.
- I will take a meditation course and will work up to meditating 20 minutes each day.
My Relapse Prevention Strategies:
- If I feel the urge to use, I will call my 12-Step sponsor instead.
- I will attend 3 – 4 12-Step meetings each week.
Additional commitments that will help me stick to my Recovery Plan:
- I will be clean and sober for my daughter’s graduation celebration in June.
Consequences that I agree to accept, should I break any of the above promises:
- If I fail to comply with the terms of my Recovery Plan, I understand that I will be no longer able to live in the family home with my wife and children.
By creating a written document outlining specific steps that you commit to, you “formalize” your recovery plans and give more weight to your promises. It will be even better if you choose to share your plan with a loved one and sign it as a tangible sign of your pledge to keep your promises.
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