Think about your favorite work of art.

Maybe you love a painting like the Mona Lisa or American Gothic or Starry Night. Maybe you love a Broadway musical like 42nd Street or The Phantom of the Opera or Dear Evan Hansen. Maybe you have a favorite rock album or comic book or television show or dance company or string quartet or comedian.

When you think about that artwork, you’re thinking of the finished product. But many artists would tell you that these products are not the most important aspect of their art. What matters more than the product is the process.

Focusing on the process of making art allows an artist to stay in the moment, where they can have room for improvisation, experimentation, and starting over. If the focus is on the product—Will it be good? Will anyone buy it? Will it be as good as my last project?—it is easy for an artist to feel a sense of paralysis, worried that each attempt or experiment will lead away from their vision.

What does this have to do with recovery from a substance use disorder?

Recovery Is a Process, Not a Product

When it comes to recovery from a substance use disorder, it can be all too easy to focus on the product: lifelong sobriety.

That’s a great goal, of course, but it can also be paralyzing, especially on challenging days. If you spend all of your time wondering if you will be able to stay sober for the rest of your life, you may miss opportunities to shore up your recovery today, in the present. Difficult days will be more frightening if you don’t see them as an opportunity to learn something new.

A Process Focus Can Help in the Event of Relapse

If you are thinking of your recovery as a singular product, a relapse can be absolutely devastating. You had a goal and you failed to meet it—and so now it’s easy to get discouraged and perhaps to give up on the idea of lasting sobriety all together.

But if you are in the habit of thinking of recovery as a process, it can be easier to accept the disappointment of a relapse and to get yourself back into treatment to reset your recovery. A relapse is not something you want to have happen—much like a painter doesn’t want to discover that a particular draft will have to be redone—but it isn’t the end of the world. You can get sober and work on maintaining that sobriety just like the painter can stretch a new canvas and start again.

Other Ways Recovery Is a Process Approach Applies

Focusing on the process can be helpful in a whole range of areas that can be beneficial for your recovery.

For example, getting regular exercise can be extremely helpful for a person trying to maintain their sobriety. That might seem daunting if exercise hasn’t already been a key part of your routine. But if you focus on the process of an activity you enjoy doing, you can make progress and reap the benefits. If you get fixated on losing a certain amount of weight or lifting a certain amount or winning an amateur tournament, you may be so discouraged by setbacks that it upends the whole endeavor.

The same thinking can apply to improving your diet or your sleep routine. And focusing on the process can make it far more fun to try a new hobby because you aren’t worrying about whether or not you can master your new activity. Process-focused thinking can be beneficial when working to improve your relationships, your work situation, and more. Improvement in any and all of these areas can underpin your recovery.

We Can Help You Get Sober

At Safe Harbor Recovery Center, we have established a process designed to help you get sober. That process is grounded in a commitment to personalized, compassionate, evidence-based care. From medically supervised detox to a robust rehab program to our commitment to a continuum of care after you leave our residential facility, we will be your partners in the process of getting your recovery journey started on the right foot.

Are you or someone you love looking for co-occurring disorder treatment in Virginia? For more information about programs at Safe Harbor Recovery Center, contact us at (888) 932-2304. We are ready to help you make a new beginning.