By: Marilyn L. Davis




Phases of Recovery and the Moon 



“When I look over my past, I see that the stages in my life are like the phases of the moon. I’ve had periods where I was the waxing gibbous: fat with wealth and success. There have been other seasons when my happiness was like the waning crescent, and I watched my joy fade away slowly, merging with the atmosphere around me as if it never existed. Then I felt as if I was left with nothing more than an illusion, but happiness returns in time and glows once more in corpulent fullness. It’s time that makes the difference.” ― Amy Neftzger, Conversations with the Moon 


Recovery and the Moon Both Have Phases phase marilyn l davis from addict 2 advocate

Just like the moon, recovery has phases. Each phase moves you away from relapse and self-defeating behaviors towards long-term recovery. Click To Tweet 

When you’re moving away from relapsing feelings, thoughts, and actions, you move toward a greater understanding of recovery. However, there is no time frame for this forward growth, unlike the moon. Evolving in your recovery is personal to you.

Progress depends on how much time, energy, and effort you put into making changes and growing in your recovery. 


Phase One: The Most Contradictory 


Newly recovering people are fragile and most prone to relapse. While the consequences of their recent use may have gotten their immediate attention, the incidents of defiance, ambivalence, and resistance are most widespread at this time. 

Many people in early recovery are still dishonest, arrogant, or refuse to acknowledge there is a problem. Some have so much guilt and shame that they aren’t sure they can ever forgive themselves for what they’ve done in their addiction, let alone expect forgiveness from family and friends. 

Some people posture as: 

  • Victims
  • Aggressive
  • Overly dramatic
  • A Know-it-all

Then others are no longer on the fence; they want to change. They are relieved and ready to stop their use, self-defeating behaviors, and criminal activities. 

Regardless of their negative and positive attitudes, people will be afraid to change, distrustful of other people, and the process of recovery. 

Some are only willing to give up the illegal drug use and not make other significant changes. Others engage in criminal thinking and behaviors whether they relapse or not.

However, there are more similarities than dissimilarities among people within this phase, even with the differences. 


Relapsing and Phase One 


Phase One is about education. Shame, guilt, and unresolved issues are often the likely underlying causes of relapse. However, premature delving into these issues will usually increase the relapse rate.

People must get the right kind of help if they have PTSD, anxiety, or sexual abuse issues from their past. 

Some of you do not believe you have a problem and will test that theory with another use. Some of you will show a sense of uniqueness, entitlement, or arrogance.

Others feel depressed, sad, and discouraged. Many feel ashamed or embarrassed, and a few are drastically impaired due to their use. 

However, everyone needs to understand that these symptoms are predictable, familiar, and widespread without negating feelings about each situation. 

Identifying commonality, coping mechanisms, and exploring change is frightening for everyone. 

We all need common language and communication skills to shore up our defenses by asking others for help. These people can help us with healthy alternatives to defend against relapse. 

When people learn the language of recovery and listen for the similarities in experiences, they will find that even the opposites of arrogance/defiance and shame/guilt have a common framework for change.


Phase Two: Self-discovery


Early recovery is an upsetting and stressful time for people who expose their shortcomings and self-defeating behaviors. It is painful to recognize how many people we harmed in our use. People realize that recovery is not pain-free but directed pain to promote change during this phase. However, the pain can have a purpose; it can motivate people to change. 

Self-discovery is the beginning of accountability for your actions. We can find a resolution for our painful past and understand the ingrained, habituated patterns of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. 

An in-depth personal evaluation of our lives can prompt radically altered thoughts and feelings and find forgiveness for ourselves and others. 

We can choose the acute pain of self-awareness and not the protracted pain of addiction, self-defeating behaviors, and adverse outcomes. Click To Tweet 


Phase Three: Healing 


Discovery also helps us find strengths, talents, and skills not used in years. When we find them, we can choose to use themChanging from poor choices and reduced options is a significant change for most of us. Many people were isolated in their use, and healing at this point involves the cathartic benefits of shared experiences, multiple solutions, and collective healing. 

For many people, it is often the first time that caring, genuine, and authentic help is available in the form of treatment and other peer resources to show them how to deal with their painful pasts.


Recovery Isn’t a Linear Path


Healing from our addictions takes time. It is not always a smooth linear progression. There will be times that negative thinking, fears, and impatience recur. During these times, complacency can become problematic, and most people have to renew their commitment to recovery. 

There is a typical plateau at this juncture. Depending on the time frame for treatment, what Step people are taking, where they are in the amends process, and how their family is reacting, life can seem to be one session, one group, one job, one meal, and bed. 

It is often necessary for people to take a step back and check how far they have come. But also realize what they will be facing if they create drama with a relapse or act out to get excitement in their life. 


Phase Four: Renewal, Restoration, and Repair 


Much of the painful past has come to light. With this awareness, people are trying to correct behaviors and repair relationships. 

  • By reviewing their life, they can make genuine and authentic amends by their actions. 
  • Renewal for many at this phase is seeking out a spiritual part of their daily life or renewing contact with a higher power.  
  • It is time to begin a new life structureIncorporating Spiritual Principles helps people create this new structure with or without a higher power. 
  • We’ve reviewed the wreckage of our past.
  • We are starting to make amends, and many are experiencing stability and contentment. 

When people find answers that work for them, they can pass this information along to someone else to help improve their lives. Click To Tweet


When you’re ready to share a story of recovery, consider a guest post. 


 Writing and recovery heals the heart


Marilyn L. Davis is the Editor-in-Chief at Two Drops of Ink and From Addict 2 Advocate and the author of: 


Finding North: A Journey from Addict to Advocate 

Memories into Memoir: The Mindsets and Mechanics Workbook 


*Reprinted from Therapeutic Integrated Educational Recovery System (TIERS) Page 13-15 © Authored by Marilyn L. Davis for express use at North House, 1990-2011, copyright transferred to TIERS, 2012 



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