It turns out that the recovery process cannot be done in one simple phase. Not unlike getting a car or truck rolling along it takes more than one gear. Abstinence is comparable to first gear in a motor vehicle. It is the best and sometimes the only way to get a massive vehicle in motion but not unlike a car going down the highway, being stuck in first gear is destructive. At some point the cars engine will blow apart from too much stress.
Rehab programs seldom talk about this matter because it is simply not their job to talk about long-term recovery strategies. Their goal is typically one of getting the subject to reach some short-term goal that can be achieved and measured within a short time frame,
typically 30 to 90 days.
So what is the equivalent of second gear in the recovery process? Principles to live by. Specifically rules to live by that can be used to day in and day out without overloading ones psychic engine. Some of these principles can be summed up in simple to grasp slogans like; one-day-at-a-time, easy-does-it and first-things-first. These are more or less psychological tricks and tips that can be used in times of stress.
There is more to recovery however than just psychology. There is an even higher set of principles that can be viewed as the equivalent of over-drive in an automobile. That is spiritual instead of psychological principles.
Spiritual principles are harder to learn than psychological principles because some of them are hard to grasp at first. In fact, many of them are closer to paradox’s than logic. That is why it is best to leave them for last in the learning process.
The fundamental spiritual principles are not too bad to deal with like honesty, open-mindedness and willingness but some of the deeper principles like humility and serenity are beyond the grasp of those new to the recovery process.
Perhaps the most esoteric spiritual principle to grasp is true humility. A word often confused with humiliation. The easiest way to distinguish between the two is to remember that humiliation leads to fear, guilt and shame where humility leads to insight into new truth. Another important difference between them is that humiliation is 100% pain where humility is 50% pain and 50% gain. As body-builders would say “no pain, no gain.
All those who are suffering from an addiction have a serious lack of insight. Humility, more than any other tool, can circumvent this problem and provide new and lasting paths to the truth about themselves, their disease and their potential to change. Think of spiritual principles as the over-drive that allows an auto to cruise for countless hours of stress-free progress on the life-long journey to recovery.