Total Recovery is something we hopefully work to achieve and maintain our entire lives.

When you are in Total Recovery, you are:

1. Not addicting in any way. You have realized the ideal of not hurting yourself or anyone else through engaging in compulsive, destructive behaviors (addictions).
2. You are working to heal and repair of your life.
3. You are realizing your full potentials and experiencing fulfillment.

Many victims of addiction are in partial recovery. This is good, as some recovery is better than none. Thus you see the crowds of smokers at AA and NA meetings. They have stopped addicting to the substances that threaten to immediately destroy them in exchange for addicting to a substance that will likely destroy them later in their lives.

Total Recovery is a psychospiritual issue. It is about living with integrity according to the truth of things. For example, it is true that each of us is of immeasurable value. It is true that each of us has been given the sacred gift of but one life. It is true that Life needs us, just as we need Life. It is true that because of our interdependence, our actions affect everyone around us. It is true that we need to be vital to be able to be of benefit to others.

It is also true that if we hurt ourselves, we hurt others. I see this all the time in my grieving patients whose parents or other loved ones die prematurely from smoking or other self-destructive behaviors.

Thus it is true that it is our responsibility to cherish and care for ourselves the way we would cherish and care for our own child. We owe this to ourselves as well as to those around us. Thus in Total Recovery we take very good care of ourselves so that we can both savor our lives as well as nurture the lives of others. We do this by:

1. Not addicting in any way
2. Getting enough sleep
3. Exercising
4. Eating healthy
5. Making time for love and play
6. Getting whatever treatment we need to address medical and psychiatric issues
7. Engaging in a spiritual practice and participating in a spiritual community.

This is the truth about how to do recovery, something that no one does perfectly all the time.

If you are still addicting or otherwise not taking good care of yourself, first forgive yourself. Do not judge yourself. We are all imperfect, struggling to get by as best we can. Recovery is a lifelong process of progress, not perfection. Be kind to yourself. Celebrate your successes.

Second, look carefully at how you are not taking care of yourself. Notice how it feels. Notice feelings of conflict between the truth and your reality. Reflect on the long term consequences and risks that lay before you. See clearly your lack of coherence with what is true, right, and good. See that you are not in harmony with Reality. Wake up to the truth of things and follow the dictates of your conscience. Envision for yourself the wonderful tastes of the many fruits of Total Recovery.

Third, make a vow, every day, to cherish and care for yourself. If you are still addicting, humbly ask for help and stop. Restructure your life so that you can do what you need to do to take care of yourself. Put first things first.

Be patient with yourself, as learning to love yourself and undoing a lifetime of unskillful self-care can take time and much effort. The chains of addiction are not broken easily. Don’t give up. Persist and persevere. If you do, you will realize Total Recovery and the joy that comes with it.

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