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Active vs. Passive Recovery

Listen to stories of relapse from members of recovery fellowships and you’ll come to here a generally similar tale.

At some point, individuals who relapsed stopped practicing their program of recovery. Over time, their meeting count slipped. They stopped calling their sponsor. Rather than put themselves in “the middle of the herd” and join in on the fellowship with their peers, they isolated. As a result of their isolation, they come to resent their peers instead of reach out to them. Without the support of a meeting, a sponsor, or a fellowship, the principles of their recovery start to fade from their minds. Without accountability, hearing the message, and being submerged in sobriety, they start to forget why sobriety matters. Without constantly working toward positive change, they start to become complacent. Once they become complacent, they “rest on their laurels” and slip into old ways of thinking. Old ways of thinking start to include the peculiar mental twists of alcoholism and addiction- the little voice that says “just one” drink is manageable, only using “soft drugs” is acceptable, and that maybe, this time around, drinking and using will be better than it was before. After all, they’ve been sober all this time.

What truly happens with these stories is a shift, which is both subtle and abrupt.

The shift is going from active recovery- actively working a program, talking to a sponsor, going to meetings, working with newcomers, being of service, participating in the fellowship, and more- to passive recovery- not meditating, not praying, not staying accountable, not maintaining responsibility, and more. Active recovery creates a robust life worth living which feels good. Passive recovery makes life feel like it isn’t worth living sober anymore, which feels restless, irritable, discontent, isolated, and ultimately miserable. Since we hear these stories of relapse so often, in the same way, it is proven to us that passive recovery rarely leads to sustained sobriety or the happier life that sobriety promises us.

Active recovery is entirely dependent upon a daily contingency we are given- the contingency that, we keep our recovery active.

Living a recovery lifestyle takes time, healing, education, and the demonstration of others who have walked the path before us. We can recover. We do recover. We can become recovered, and we can stay that way.


Origins Behavioral Healthcare is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance abuse, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today:  561-841-1296

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If you or someone you love has a substance use or mental health disorder, Origins Behavioral HealthCare can help. We will work alongside you to provide the most comprehensive treatment available.