Recovery Is Resilience

By Dr. John Rosa

Recovery is a process. So is resilience. In fact, you can’t have one without the other! Both, recovery and resilience are processes that ultimately blossom into life’s most useful skills. No matter where you are in your recovery, resilience can continuously be fine-tuned.


The quality of resilience has been defined as “the ability to mentally or emotionally cope with a crisis or to return to pre-crisis status quickly. Resilience exists when the person uses “mental processes and behaviors in promoting personal assets and protecting self from the potential negative effects of stressors.”


Without question, everyone, whether in recovery or not, can benefit from taking stock of their inner reserves during these difficult times and turn their attention to developing greater resilience. For those of you in recovery, do not despair. There are very specific actions you can take – echoing the steps toward recovery – that will carry you forward and strengthen your resilience. All behaviors can be exercised, and like muscles, these behaviors, when consciously exercised will be strengthened in your daily life. (See the article I wrote entitled Exceptionally Challenging Times Require Greater Resilience For Those In Recovery.)


Remember that you have what you need within to get through this pandemic. You have capacities that do not depend on anyone outside of you. You have adaptability, courage, perseverance, a sense of humor, resourcefulness, gratitude and other attributes that have carried you through in the past. All of these attributes are aspects of resilience. So it’s important that you actively cultivate an awareness of your personal strengths and resources.  Focus on these attributes. Remember how they have helped you get through past difficulties. Let those memories motivate you and look into your future and see yourself functioning capably, clearly and confidently. Imagine how you will be able to help others tap into their inner strength and develop the ability to change as well and face whatever challenges life has in store for them.


When you are in recovery from substance abuse, you need to believe in your own inner strength and abilities. You might never have gone through anything quite like this before – none of us has – and many people are uncertain and fearful. But that’s to be expected. But keeping the whole picture in mind, knowing you have capabilities that can be strengthened like a muscle will carry you through. You can do this. You are resilient.