Precovery: Making the Decision to Become Sober and End Your Addiction

“Precovery” is a moment in a person’s addiction when they come to a crossroad in their life and make the decision to become sober.

For the first time in a long time, the addict is having clear revelations regarding the negative impacts of substance abuse in their life. The addict may realize they can no longer run from their addiction and that rationalizing their behavior while under the influence of drugs and alcohol is doing them no good.

This internal struggle sparks the idea within the addict that quitting drugs and alcohol once and for all is the option they need to pursue in order to regain their physical and mental health and to rebuild the relationships with family and other loved ones that were destroyed.

While these thoughts can provide much needed motivation and desire for the addict to get help, there is a fine line that the addict must acknowledge in regards to searching for recovery versus seeking recovery. During the course of one’s substance abuse, thoughts of quitting the use of drugs has crossed their minds countless times, but those thoughts were fleeting.

Even if thoughts of quitting drugs for good come to the forefront, the addict must decide whether they will act on these thoughts and take the necessary steps needed to get sober or if they will continue to ponder these thoughts and continue in the vicious cycle of substance abuse.

Where Does the “Searching vs. Seeking” Behaviors in Precovery Begin?

One of the greatest mysteries of recovery is exactly where and when the addict reaches the decision to pursue sobriety in earnest. Despite what some may think, the recovery process begins long before a person enters a drug and alcohol rehab facility.

The start of the recovery process starts with a growing internal dialogue the addict has regarding the impact substance abuse has on their life. This phenomenon, known as precovery or recovery priming, was coined by psychologist William White and it accurately describes the tug of war the addict experiences from within.

White himself explains this process as the following:

Precovery involves several simultaneous processes: physical depletion of the drug’s once esteemed value, cognitive disillusionment with the using lifestyle (a “crystallization of discontent” resulting from a pro/con analysis of “the life”), growing emotional distress and self-repugnance, spiritual hunger for greater meaning and purpose in life, breakthroughs in perception of self and world, and (perhaps most catalytic in terms of reaching the recovery initiation tipping point) exposure to recovery carriers–people who offer living proof of the potential for a meaningful life in long-term recovery. These precovery processes reflect a combustive collision between pain and hope.

White’s explanation of the searching vs. seeking manner of precovery is certainly a lot to take in and decipher. In layman’s terms, the precovery process is one where the addict comes to terms with the fact that drugs and/or alcohol bring them pain and frustration more often than it does pleasure. The addict also is growing weary of living the addict lifestyle is desiring to get back to the happy and fulfilled life they were living before substance abuse took over their life.

Are You Caught in the Middle?

If you are caught in the middle of searching for recovery and truly seeking recovery, you need to the take the time to do some significant and candid reflection. When you are taking a deeper look into your life, you need to take a look at your history of substance abuse, how it has affected your life, and how it has affected other people’s lives among other tough questions.

In order to make the process easier, you can utilize the following questions to help guide this reflection:

  • Am I a truly happy person when I am using, or am I just hiding my pain?
  • How has my drug of choice negatively impacted my life?
  • What have I lost as a result of my substance abuse?
  • What will happen to me if I continue to abuse substances?
  • How do I truly view myself in relation to my drug addiction?
  • How do others perceive me in relation to my drug addiction?
  • Will I ever be the person I am meant to be if I continue to use drugs?
  • Do I lie, cheat, or steal?
  • Am I able to develop lasting relationships while using drugs?
  • In what ways would my life improve if I quit using drugs for good?
  • What do I really desire to do with my life?

Asking yourself the tough questions in an honest manner is a very difficult thing to do. While the answers that you come up with can be extremely painful, this pain can help you transition from searching for help and actually seeking help.

In reality, the searching versus seeking phase of recovery can unfold over a periods of months, years and even decades. While there is no set time for precovery to take place and resolve, it is absolutely important that precovery unfolds naturally.

The commitment an addict makes to sobriety must be absolute, and if the addict can’t answer to themselves in an honest fashion, they will never experience a meaningful, long-term recovery.

Need Help Finding Treatment? Call Us Today!

Are you currently struggling with substance abuse and are caught in the “searching vs. seeking” mentality in regards to getting help? Call  Drug Treatment Center Finder toll-free at (855) 619-8070 today. Our experienced addiction professionals will provide you the necessary resources and support you need to get the help you deserve.

Staff Writer :