Priority Number One


It is easy for life to get in the way of recovery. Yet without recovery, you have nothing else. The stresses and demands of work and family often crowd out time for recovery work. You may feel the need to skip recovery meetings to make more money. A loved one may ask for more of your time. There may be a project that demands your time. You may consider recovery to be less important than other life demands. You may tell yourself you will get back to recovery work “when there is more time.” You forget the mantra, “First Things First.”

Unfortunately, the time for recovery work does not reappear. You develop new life routines in which your time becomes consumed by the many demands and obligations of your life. Recovery work fades into the distance, leaving you vulnerable to the insidious dynamics of addiction that then creep their way back into your life. You may notice you begin to experience irritability, stress, negative thoughts, resentments, or even cravings. You may not even experience these warning signs, but slip, or outright relapse, out of the blue. Then you realize, when you are once again at risk of losing everything, that everything else depends on your recovery. Once you see that recovery must come first you can have everything else in your life that brings happiness and fulfillment.

Recovery calls for prioritization and balance. You cannot take on so much that no time for recovery work remains. A person in strong recovery will even schedule time out from a vacation for prayer, contemplation, recovery readings, journaling, talking to a recovery mentor, or going to a recovery meeting. The same is true in your routine life where time for exercise, a full-time job, child care, and other family commitments place demands on your time. You must say “no” at some point. You must limit your time commitments to a reasonable load that allows for recovery work, if only a few hours a week.

Plan your recovery time. Schedule it. You have to make time to put in the time. Try as hard as you can to let nothing divert you from your recovery work. Be willing to go to any lengths for your recovery the way you did for your addiction. Make your recovery a daily discipline, a habit, a ritual. When demands on your time increase, cut back and devote more time to recovery, as that is when you most need recovery work.

Tell loved ones that you are doing this for both yourself and for them. Explain that with recovery work they are less at risk of losing you to the addiction. If they love you and truly understand addiction, they will support you. Set limits at work. Your boss is not responsible for looking out for you, you are. You will only succeed at work if you make sure work doesn’t replace recovery work.

You must make your recovery first to make it last. In the end, you don’t want others to say of you, “they gave their almost.” It is said that “half-measures avail us of nothing.” Put your full heart into your recovery. Then you will taste the fruits of recovery.