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Supporting each other in recovery

There is no universal definition of addiction recovery. Recovery is highly individualized because so many factors come into play: physical condition, emotional/psychological condition, support network strength, motivation, socioeconomic factors, personality/demeanor, religious beliefs, etc.

Recovery goals vary widely from facility to facility and from person to person, but on a basic level the aims are usually to get the individual to acknowledge their addiction, to have them commit to recovery, and to reduce or eliminate their inducements to use. Contrary to popular belief, the goal is not to “cure” people of their addictions; chemical dependence is a chronic, long-term disease that requires lifelong treatment and management.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) defines recovery from alcohol and drug problems as “a process of change through which an individual achieves abstinence and improved health, wellness, and quality of life.” This model suggests that total, long-term abstinence is not enough to constitute full recovery and that a more holistic approach is necessary.

SAMHSA also provides a list of twelve “Guiding Principles of Recovery” to serve as a lens through which professionals and individuals struggling with addiction may view treatment.


1. There are many pathways to recovery.

2. Recovery is self-directed and empowering.

3. Recovery involves a personal recognition of the need for change and transformation.

4. Recovery is holistic

5. Recovery has cultural dimensions.

6. Recovery exists on a continuum of improved health and wellness.

7. Recovery is supported by peers and allies.

8. Recovery emerges from hope and gratitude.

9. Recovery involves a process of healing and self-redefinition.

10. Recovery involves addressing discrimination and transcending shame and stigma.

11. Recovery involves (re)joining and (re)building a life in the community.

12. Recovery is a reality. It can, will, and does happen.


Defining Recovery

A family walking together

In an attempt to further elucidate the definition of recovery, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded an Alcohol Research Group project entitled “What is Recovery?” The Group conducted interviews with individuals who were engaged in different treatment modalities, including 12-step groups, professionally guided inpatient/intensive outpatient/outpatient programs, support groups, medication-assisted recovery programs, and individuals attempting recovery on their own, either through use in moderation or quitting cold turkey.

After gathering definitions of recovery from this wide breadth of sources, the Group selected over 150 central words from the interviews to generate a list. They then asked hundreds of other individuals in recovery to examine the list and identify which of the words matched their own personal definition of recovery. The list was narrowed to ~50 words before the Group conducted another round of interviews with 10,000 more individuals in recovery. In the end, the Group compiled a list of ~40 elements of recovery that were seen as common throughout the community.

The resulting data was split into five overarching themes for data analysis: abstinence in recovery, essentials of recovery, enriched recovery, spirituality of recovery, and uncommon elements of recovery. The following definition components were collected:


"Abstinence in Recovery"

No use of alcohol

94% of participants agreed with definition

No abuse of prescribed medication

92% of participants agreed with definition

No use of non-prescribed drugs

88% of participants agreed with definition

"Essentials of Recovery”

Being honest with myself

99% of participants agreed with definition

Being able to enjoy life without drinking or using drugs like I used to

99% of participants agreed with definition

Handling negative feelings without using drugs or drinking like I used to

99% of participants agreed with definition

Changing the way I think through things

99% of participants agreed with definition

Not replacing one destructive dependency with another

99% of participants agreed with definition

Taking care of my mental health more than I did before

99% of participants agreed with definition

A realistic appraisal of my abilities & my limitations

99% of participants agreed with definition

Being able to deal with situations that used to stump me

99% of participants agreed with definition

Freedom from feeling physically sick because of my drinking or using

98% of participants agreed with definition

Striving to be consistent with my beliefs & values in activities that take up the major part of my time & energy

98% of participants agreed with definition

Being able to have relationships where I am not using people or being used

98% of participants agreed with definition

Having people around me who know how to get thru life without using alcohol or other drugs like they used to

98% of participants agreed with definition

Getting along with family or friends better than I did before

98% of participants agreed with definition

Trying to live in a place that is not overrun with alcohol or drugs

96% of participants agreed with definition

“Enriched Recovery”

A process of growth & development

99% of participants agreed with definition

Taking responsibility for the things I can change

99% of participants agreed with definition

Reacting to life's ups & downs in a more balanced way than I used to

99% of participants agreed with definition

Living a life that contributes to society, to your family, or to your betterment

99% of participants agreed with definition

Having tools to try to feel inner peace when I need to

99% of participants agreed with definition

Developing inner strength

99% of participants agreed with definition

Improved self-esteem

99% of participants agreed with definition

Taking care of my physical health more than I did before

99% of participants agreed with definition

Learning how to get the kind of support from others that I need

99% of participants agreed with definition

Being the kind of person that people can count on

98% of participants agreed with definition

“Spirituality of Recovery”

Being grateful

99% of participants agreed with definition

About giving back

98% of participants agreed with definition

About helping other people to not drink or use drugs like they used to

98% of participants agreed with definition

Appreciating that I am part of the universe, something bigger than myself

97% of participants agreed with definition

Becoming more open-minded about spirituality than before

96% of participants agreed with definition

Feeling connected to a spiritual being or force that helps me deal with difficulties in life

95% of participants agreed with definition

Spiritual in nature & has nothing to do with religion

95% of participants agreed with definition

"Uncommon Elements of Recovery”

Physical & mental in nature & has nothing to do with spirituality or religion

65% of participants agreed with definition

No use of tobacco

64% of participants agreed with definition

Religious in nature

63% of participants agreed with definition

Non-problematic alcohol or drug use

43% of participants agreed with definition

Two Dreams believes in forming a personalized, holistic definition of recovery for each client. In order to ensure that all areas of life are examined, we use a “3-7-3 Model” composed of Three Phases, Seven Dimensions, and Three Outcomes. This all-encompassing plan helps clients gain insight into the pervasive nature of addiction and decreases the likelihood of relapse.


Outer Banks sunset

The Three Phases

The Three Phases come about naturally through the progression of each individual’s personal recovery; they are constructs meant to frame the treatment process.

Clients transition through the phases at their own pace and are not bound by any time-restrictions.

1. During the Coming In phase, we help clients to establish trusting relationships with peers and staff members. We emphasize to clients that they are supported in their recovery journey and we work with them to establish healthy rituals. There is a focus on building up self-confidence as a foundation for the upcoming therapeutic work. Clients are encouraged to share their addiction stories and embrace honesty as a key component of the recovery process.

2. During the Looking In phase, we help clients to expose negative core beliefs in order to form a healthier sense of self. Transparency and introspection are essential during this phase, and we encourage clients to honor and express their thoughts, feelings, and aspirations. We hope to reduce shame and guilt while working on the deeper issues fueling their addictions. Clients practice analyzing the motivations behind their actions and ultimately learn to acknowledge their addiction and commit to recovery.

3. During the Looking Out phase, we help clients to make a plan going forward. They are fully empowered and possess the tools needed to succeed in lifelong recovery. We review with them methods of controlling cravings, managing relationships, etc. They prepare for reintegration into their next living environment and practice their newly gained skills in our supportive environment.



The Seven Dimensions

The Seven Dimensions describe the main areas of focus in our holistic treatment approach.

1. Abstinence. Abstinence means eliminating dysfunction-causing substances and mentalities. It means no drugs or alcohol, of course, but it also means no negative thoughts, codependent behaviors, self-defeating communication techniques, etc. The goal is to eliminate any issues that might keep clients from reaching their full potential.

2. Peer Support. Peer support is an invaluable part of the treatment experience. The community milieu promotes healthy bonding and accountability between individuals of similar experiences. Clients are more inclined to take risks in the company of a non-judgmental support group, and are therefore more likely to make great strides in recovery.

3. Professional Guidance. Professional guidance is a big part of what makes Two Dreams so successful. Our staff is passionate, dedicated, and knowledgeable. Many of our employees have overcome their own challenges, meaning that they have a special appreciation for the struggles of addiction and can use their experiences to benefit others. We genuinely want the best outcomes for our clients and will make any and all efforts to ensure a smooth recovery for everyone.

4. Medication Review. Medication reviews are conducted on a regular basis. The safety and wellbeing of our clients is top-priority so we frequently assess each client’s need for medication, as well as the efficacy of current prescriptions. Clients have the opportunity to discuss pharmacological options with our consulting physician and, as always, we keep medical information confidential.

5. Nutrition. Nutrition is considered throughout each day, as we strive to keep our clients healthy and satiated. Balanced meals provide the fuel needed for maximal recovery and comfort. The hope is that, with education and practice, our clients will continue to incorporate appropriate nutritional values into their lives outside of the treatment facility.

6. Exercise. Exercise is a proven method of mood elevation and health optimization. We encourage clients to add fitness to their daily routine, especially to relieve some of the anxiety that comes along with addiction. As the mind-body connection suggests: a healthy body fosters a healthy mind, and vice versa.

7. Ritual/12-Step Component. Rituals and structured activities keep clients accountable and goal-driven. Successful completion of planned rituals promotes confidence that clients can use when forming their new, healthy identity. Additionally, using the 12-Step model means that our clients can attend regular 12-step support groups all over the world after treatment, which ultimately maximizes their potential for long-term success.

The Three Outcomes

After participating in our program, clients will have the tools necessary to achieve long-term recovery from substance abuse and co-occurring disorders.

Treatment modalities and therapy received are designed to promote three long-term goals, or as well call them, “the Three P’s” or “the Three Outcomes”: mental peace, physical wellbeing, and personal productivity.

1. We aspire to help our clients attain mental peace that will last even in the face of personal challenges. Addiction has a tendency to govern the feelings, thoughts, and behaviors of those it touches, but our program helps clients take back control. We teach mindfulness; we teach acceptance; we teach self-confidence and self-worth. Clients leave feeling positive about the future, but also knowing how to live for the present.

2. Physical wellbeing is critical to recovery from the disease of addiction as well. Clients are required to abstain from substance-use during treatment, which allows the body to start healing the harms caused by drugs and alcohol. Clients are thoroughly educated on nutrition, exercise, etc. in order to promote overall bodily health and functionality. Our hope is that clients leave the program with established, healthy routines that can be continued outside of the treatment facility. We are also focused on achieving individual physical goals set by our clients, such as weight gain, weight loss, muscle build-up, etc.

3. Our final tenet is personal productivity, or continued growth and achievement outside the facility. Every client has a different set of goals and skills, so we specialize our support to fit their needs. We recognize strengths, work through insecurities, and provide recommendations to encourage each client to realize his or her full potential. The aim is for each individual to leave treatment with goals and the self-esteem to see them through.


A happy client

Sources Cited:

Two Dreams Manifesto,

"Definition of Recovery." Definition of Recovery. National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, INC., 24 July 2015. Web. 21 Mar. 2016.

Kaskutas, L. A., Borkman, T. J., Laudet, A., Ritter, L. A., Witbrodt, J., Subbaraman, M., Stunz, A., & Bond, J. (November 2014). Elements that define recovery: The experiential perspective. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 75(6), 999-1010.

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Light regulates circadian rhythms

Why and How We Live Rhythmically at Two Dreams

The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken

- Samuel Johnson

Every living organism has a natural rhythm. These rhythms are disrupted by illness, particularly drug and alcohol use. A drug can create false sleep. A drug can stimulate alertness. A drug can suppress appetite. Another can stimulate appetite.

The science behind living rhythmically, strategies that promote and restore natural rhythms, and the role of sleep, nutrition, meditation, and exercise in the 21st century approach to healing oneself in recovery are all important aspects of your journey at Two Dreams.

At Two Dreams the concept of living in the NOW (No Other Way) is central to living a life in recovery. Similarly, mindfulness is a state of active, open, non-judgmental attention on the present. Many treatment programs and practitioners are employing mindfulness in the care and management of patients with mood, anxiety, and substance use disorders- diseases and symptoms which tend to cluster together.

Read more ...