Focusing on Recovery

Making a recovery plan can help you anticipate and prepare for situations that may be tough. One goal many people have when they opt for MAT is to find ways to succeed in situations that have thrown them off track in the past.

There are different challenges at each stage of recovery. For each stage you may want to ask yourself these questions:

  • What has worked for me in the past? What has not worked? What situations have set me back? What has triggered my urge to use?
  • What situations might be tough in the future?
  • What are the practical things I can do to manage these situations and avoid relapse?

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Stages of medication-assisted recovery

There are several stages of medication-assisted recovery. Each stage has its specific focus.

Stage 1: Stop using. Focus on controlling withdrawal symptoms, getting through detox, and reaching stabilization.

Stage 2: Learn recovery skills. Focus on recognizing high-risk situations and taking action to avoid relapse.

Stage 3: Stay in recovery. Focus on finding a routine, building a support network, and learning to have fun without using.

Stage 4: Live in recovery. Focus on living a full and meaningful life in recovery. This may include your job and family, becoming part of your community, and enjoying good health.

Avoiding relapse

If you have tried to stop using before, you have important information. You know what situations resulted in a return to drug use.

Relapse prevention groups can be very helpful. You can look at your own relapse triggers and hear what others do to avoid pitfalls. Other people in recovery who have successfully overcome opioid use disorder are a good source of information on what helps prevent relapse. They can also tell you what helped them build a positive and rewarding life in recovery, one of the best ways of avoiding relapse.

Your plan for success

Here are some things to consider when making your plan for success:

  • What do you want to be different in your life? What is your vision of success?
  • What are the barriers that stand in your way?
  • What resources and supports do you have? What else might you need?
  • What you have tried in the past? What has been helpful—even a little bit? What has not been helpful?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses? What caused you to relapse in the past? What pitfalls are the most risky for you?
  • What do you need the most help with now?
  • Who can help you with that?

Finding meaning

When people are addicted to opioids, they often wake up in the morning with the thought: How do I get the drugs I need today? They know they will spend much of their time finding or using drugs.

Part of recovery is finding new reasons to get out of bed and new things to do with your day. They could include work, family, spirituality, creative expression, or volunteering. They may include things that were important to you in the past, or new activities, social networks, and goals. You will find a sense of purpose and new sources of meaning in your life.


I feel ready to stop using. I want to enter recovery, but I am not sure how?