Recovery is a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self directed life and strive to reach their full potential. That is the working definition of recovery established by the Substance Use and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Although the word recovery has been used very specifically by individuals with mental health and substance use issues, the SAMHSA definition applies to everyone. We all want to reach our full potential, direct our own lives, and experience wellness and health. The definition helps erase the invisible line that tries to put individuals with mental health issues or addictions in a box of “not like everyone else.” Wellness happens on a continuum. Some individuals are dealing with more issues than others, but as human beings we are all on that continuum.
And people move along that continuum. Lives change. People recover. Over the last twenty years, people in recovery have shared ideas, tools, and techniques that have worked for them. One very basic recovery tool is mindfulness. Not only does it rewire the brain, reduce stress, and help with healing, the practice of mindfulness also helps zero in on the things that are working in our lives (so we can do more of them) and those that are not (so we can drop them). Mindfulness practice has been incorporated into traditional therapy ( as in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, DBT), but is accessible to anyone beginning the journey of recovery through a wealth of books, CDs, and on line resources.
Books and CDs
Mental Health Recovery Boosters: How to Sustain Your Mental Wellness, Carol Kivler. A book of short essays on maintaining mental wellness. They are easy enough to read over breakfast each morning to start the day with a positive message.
The Wellness Workbook 3rd edition; How to Achieve Enduring Health and Vitality, John W. Travis and Regina Sara Ryan. While recovery is not mentioned specifically, this book is a good resource on the wholistic nature of wellness. With chapters on breathing, relationships, movement, and more it highlights the interconnected dimensions of our lives that create wellness.
Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP), Mary Ellen Copeland. This book outlines the steps to creating a personal written wellness plan. Intended for individuals with menatl health and substance use issues, but adaptable to everyone.
The Science of Happiness: How our Brains Make us Happy – and What We Can Do to Get Happier, Stephan Kline. Research on the brain over the last twenty years has taught us much about practices we can put in place to feel our best, even while dealing with life’s problems. This book walks you through the science and also beginning practices.
Happiness: Essential Mindfulness Practices, Thich Nhat Hahn. Basic mindfulness practices that assist recovery and wellness.
Mindful Solutions for Addiction and Relapse Prevention, Stefanie Goldstein, PhD & Elisha Goldsten, PhD. A CD of using mindfulness in recovery from addcitions.
The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook: Practical DBT Exercises for Learning Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Emotion Regulation, and Distress Tolerance, Matthew McKay, Jeffrey Wood, Jeffrey Brantley. DBT uses mindfulness practice to address stress, mood swings, addictions and more. This self help workbook provides additional resources for anyone working with a therapist using DBT but also makes the process available to anyone who can work their way through the book.
Buddhist Recovery Network You don’t need to be a Buddhist. This site promotes the idea of meditation and mindfulness as a path to recovery and wellness. Be sure to check out their page of downloads which has lots of free articles on mindfulness prevention and recovery.
Colorado Mental Wellness Network This the is the organization I work with in Denver. Check out their Facebook page as well for inspiring messages a few times each week.
Mental Health Recovery Information on the Wellness Recovery Action Plan and creating your own toolbox for wellness.
Substance Use and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), part of the Department of Health and Human Services. Their website has lots of information and highlights their research and national initiatives to help people be well. It is a great starting point for understanding what is happening across the country and how the system is (slowly) changing.
HNational Empowerment Center Rich with resource for directing one’s own recovery and wellness, the Empowerment Center is an organization of individuals who have persona l experience with mental health issues.
Hazeldon, is an organization providing research and treatment on addictions for over 60 years. They have a wealth of books, resources and lots of recovery stories.