Six Benefits of a Recovery Lifestyle

Filed under Treatment

Many addicts find their recovery efforts inhibited because their lifestyle is not conducive to genuine improvement. A patient who enters treatment with a willingness to adapt his lifestyle to the recovery plan will have better success than a patient who seeks to form recovery around his or her existing lifestyle. The National Institute of Drug Abuse definition of addiction shows that the lifestyle of an addict really does need to be changed, as the very nature of addiction severely damages the individual’s ability to function normally in health, social, work and family terms.1

  1. Self-Esteem Grows in Recovery

Six Benefits of a Recovery Lifestyle

Increasing self-esteem is the result of a recovery lifestyle

Humans have the unique capacity to analyze and develop meaning and purpose through reflection on their actions and the ways they are perceived by others. The resulting emotions developed around this self-identity are often referred to as a sense of self-esteem. This can be either positive or negative.

Some who think too highly of themselves are inclined to dismiss their errors and shortcomings, placing the responsibility on others when their own failings become evident. This blindness undoubtedly shuts out opportunity for meaningful and healthy relationships and fosters further irresponsible activity. The inverse – low self-esteem – drives many to feelings of diminished self-worth, resulting in depression, isolation, harmful habits of self-destruction, or worse. When a person consciously improves and acknowledges his improvements, this adds to his reasonable estimation of self. This is what happens with a recovery lifestyle. The recovering addict is able to recognize shortcomings and to deal with them positively, realizing that in fact some improvements are being made.1

  1. Family Relationships Strengthen in Recovery

Family relationships suffer from addiction as intense emotions and unreasonable demands often govern the addiction environment. In a recovery-based lifestyle, the addiction is treated with the recognition that a family with one sick member is a sick family. Each family member will likely respond to addiction related trauma in different ways. Recovering addicts are helped to focus on the interests of their family members. They may build an appreciation for certain good qualities in each member that they had not fully appreciated before. Mutual understanding is likely to develop, and the family environment will likely relax, with potential to grow in love.

Of course, not all relationships will be beneficial, and at times it will be necessary to restrict certain activities. Perhaps it will be necessary to leave the house at certain hours due to continued abusive habits by other household members. Overall, however, family function is improved.2

  1. Recovery Helps Careers

Many people foster a negative view of work. Individuals may feel frustrated in a dead-end job, or feel that they are not challenged enough by their work. They may feel stressed by work that places unreasonable performance expectations. Addicts may grow to hate their jobs, in particular, because they impede convenient drug use, or because drug use has led to a diminished mental or emotional state that increases negativity and decreases the ability to handle anxiety.

A recovery-focused lifestyle helps recovering addicts to acknowledge that there is meaning to work and joy to be found in putting forth a balanced performance. In fact, providing productive services at work can facilitate the first two benefits mentioned above — enabling individuals to take care of their families and increasing self-esteem. Work may involve mental activity or physical demands that produce some good in an economic or social way.

While it has not always been the focus of treatment programs to help addicts establish employment, an increasing number of treatment facilities are catching on to the importance of meaningful work and long-term recovery. This leads to increased income, and many other potential benefits.3

  1. Recovery Brings Relief From Guilt

When one is reasonably able to provide for those for whom he or she is responsible, there is a naturally calming effect known as a clean conscience. Guilt of irresponsibility will melt away, and so may resentment on the part of those who may have formerly been neglected.

  1. Recovery Means Better Health

Better health is an obvious improvement for those who recover from addiction. Health is impacted by a recovery lifestyle in many other ways. The truly recovered addict gains a new respect for the body that he or she occupies, cultivating an appreciation for its marvelous ability to function and to heal.

What recovering person would not want to see themselves with a reasonable level of physical health? Recovery lifestyles focus on the joy that can come from moderate exercise, which can be incorporated into family outings and other events that add meaning to life. One can begin to see that things that require effort in this way are not a chore, and definitely not to be under-estimated. Again, this leads to family health, self-esteem, and may even improve job performance. It also develop endurance, which spurs the final benefit that we are to discuss — coping ability.

  1. Recovery Increases Coping Skills

Coping ability cannot be stressed enough. Life is not always easy. There will be challenges. The recovered addict recognizes this and seeks support through positivity and resources. As one pursues the techniques involved in a new lifestyle, he or she begins to realize that a challenge can be joyfully dealt with if not even overcome – and become stronger for it!4

Recovery Help

If you or a person you know needs help with addiction, recovery or is simply in need of some advice about substance use, please call our toll-free, confidential helpline today.


1 National Institute on Drug Abuse, Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition), “Is there a Difference Between Physical Dependence and Addiction?” Revised: December 2012; Retrieved: 12/16/15.

2 Hamid Reza Alavi “The Role of Self-esteem in Tendency towards Drugs, Theft and Prostitution” Published November 22 2010, Retrieved 12/16/15.

3 SAMHSA Treatment Improvement Protocols, “Integrating Substance Abuse Treatment and Vocational Services.” Published 2000; Retrieved 12/16/15.

4 Relapse Prevention, an Overview of marlatt’s Cognitive-Behavioral Model, Retrieved 12-16-15.

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