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The Four Dimensions of a Meaningful Recovery

For most people, recovery from addiction and/or mental illness means healing. It might mean getting to a place where you no longer have to face symptoms, or at least knowing how to manage those symptoms. However, most experts today agree that recovery is much more than that. It’s not just healing and growing beyond having symptoms. It means living a life you’re proud of. It means having a stable home, a healthy lifestyle, meaningful relationships, and making progress towards life goals.

Recovery is a process of rehabilitation in the fullest sense of the word. To rehabilitate means to restore or return something to its former condition. Think about who you were before you began drinking or using drugs. Who were you before your addiction set in? And even if you felt like your life has always been hard, what are some of the traits and characteristics you seem to no longer have because of addiction or mental illness?  For instance, perhaps you know you are creative, kind, ambitious, and loving but that your addiction and/or mental illness has changed you. Perhaps you have plans for the future and a vision for your family but that addiction has interfered with reaching your dreams. Returning to these traits and dreams in life during your recovery is also a way of rehabilitating.

To facilitate this kind of recovery, more and more treatment facilitates are providing services that help to improve the many facets of a person’s life. For instance, according to the MentalHealth.gov, a site administered by the U.S. Health and Human Services Division, there are four dimensions of recovery.

  • Health: This means making informed, healthy choices that support your physical, emotional, and psychological wellbeing.
  • Home: This means having a stable and safe place to live. It might also mean enjoying your home and gaining satisfaction from your home environment.
  • Purpose: This means engaging in meaningful activities, such as a job or school, volunteering, caring for your family, or being creative. It might also include a meaningful work life that brings you independence, income, and resources to participate in society.
  • Community: This means building relationships and social networks that provide support. For many recovering addicts this may mean rebuilding relationships that were impaired during one’s illness.

Health, home, purpose, and community are facets of life that are important to keep in mind when you are working on changing your life. Recovery doesn’t only mean the absence of substance use or the management of symptoms. It also means making life precisely what you want it to be.

In fact, recovery and rehabilitation doesn’t have to be defined from an external source. Sure, in the beginning, you might attend programs and meetings, which will give you structure and guidelines to follow in order to maintain your recovery. Those programs provide support and organization to give you something to hold onto when you’re new to recovery. However, as you grow and get stronger, recovery can become anything you want it to be. In fact, when you give your recovery meaning, you significantly add to it. You might be in recovery for your children, marriage, career, health, self-love, to feel safe, or to be happy again.

What are you in recovery for?