How to Write a Recovery Story

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Writing a recovery story can be a powerful way to process the emotions, thoughts and experiences that took place during a period of active alcohol or drug addiction.

Many rehabilitation centers have participants write a recovery story as part of the 12-step process, and, in some cases, these stories are read aloud to family members and friends.

As a cathartic and often powerfully moving experience, writing your recovery story is as simple as starting from the beginning, sharing how your addiction shaped you, and ending with some reflections on where you are today.

What it was like

The first step of your recovery story is writing about what it was like when you were in the throws of your addiction. This might include some background information about how you came to use drugs or alcohol, how your addiction progressed, and what it became as it got worse.

In this step, it is powerful to be completely honest about your drug or alcohol use, explaining details about your behavior, how much you drank/used, and also to recall how substances made you feel. What feelings did they numb? What happiness did they bring? Why did you use them as a coping mechanism?

In this part, it's important to get into the nitty gritty about the negativity of your disease. By being candid here, you tell yourself - and others - just how bad the addiction was, which can be a powerful reminder in the face of temptation or potential relapse.

What happened

The "what happened" section of your recovery story comes next. This is where you write about what drove you into a place where you finally knew it was time to get clean and sober. Many people refer to this as "hitting bottom," or reaching the end of the road.

For some, this might be getting a DUI, going to jail, losing custody of a child, or some other significant traumatic event that occurred as a result of your addiction. For others, it might have just been a powerful moment of clarity that happened. Write about this turning point in detail, explaining how and why you knew you could no longer carry on the way you had been.

What it's like now

The end of the recovery story is where you write about what things are like now. This is the happier, more celebratory part of the story. Here you can detail your experiences in rehab or 12-step meetings, how you overcame cravings or what you do on a daily basis to stay clean and sober.

Another powerful thing to write about in this section is how your life is different - and hopefully much better - than it was when you were using/drinking. Talk about all of things in your life that you now have that you didn't have before, like a job, a home, a relationship, a sense of self-worth - anything that applies to you.

In ending your recovery story, you may also want to talk about how you've helped others or include some inspirational wisdom to pass on to people who may read your story in the future.

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