How Do You Problem-Solve in Recovery?
Recovery is a time to learn new ways of thinking, and solving problems that may arise. For so long, you were dependent on alcohol or drugs to get you through, however, now you will solve problems with a clear mind and find workable solutions. Most of the decisions made during drug and alcohol use were impulsive and you probably dealt with problems through using.
The first step in problem solving involves defining the problem, recognizing that the problem exists, and identifying the specific factors of the problem. Suppose you need to attend several meetings per week; however, you have a new job that requires you to work evenings, weekends, and some daytime hours. You are unsure when you will be able to attend meetings, as your schedule may change from week to week. You have already identified the problem and recognized that this problem exists. The factors related to the problem have to do with meeting attendance and your work schedule.
The next step in problem solving involves brainstorming. Start by writing out a few solutions to the problem and think outside the box. You can also begin to think how someone else might handle this problem or you can call up your sponsor and ask them what they would do. Brainstorming does not involve finding the solution; however, allows you to think of possible solutions. You can also at this point, decide not to take any action at all at this point.
Next you will take your list of possible solutions and think about possible consequences of each solution. Take time to reflect on the positive and negative consequences, as these can help you make the decision when ready. Using the example above, let’s say that you worked with your sponsor to get a complete list of meetings in your area and there are meetings that you can attend outside of normal business hours such as early morning or late evening. The one consequence that you identified is that the meetings you can attend are a longer drive.
Based on your list of consequences, choose a course of action. Which idea that you came up with during brainstorming has the most benefit to you? Which course of action provides the most positive outcome? When you have decided what to do, then implement it as soon as possible. If you find over time that the solution you selected with the least negative consequence, has more consequences than you imagined, that is okay. A solution to a problem is not an absolute. You may find over time that you think of other solutions that work better for you or you find one solution that you brainstormed earlier will not work at all.
Problem solving is a skill that all recovering addicts need to have. Be open-minded and flexible when trying to solve problems and understand that problems and solutions do change over time.