The Difference Between Active and Passive Recovery - an image of an addiction support group with everyone actively engaging in the session.

Overcoming addiction isn’t just about stopping the use of substances or avoiding certain behaviours. It’s also about healing your whole self – including your mind, body, and spirit. This is what helps lead to a truly satisfying life after living in active addiction.

When looking into how to recover from addiction, it’s clear there are many different ways to approach it. After all, everyone’s journey is different. Some of these ways are active, such as actively seeking help or making lifestyle changes, and some are more passive and about letting things happen as they come. This article explores active vs passive recovery in the context of overcoming addiction.


Understanding Active Recovery in the Context of Addiction

Active recovery usually takes form in the conscious actions individuals take to confront and manage their addiction when in recovery. It involves proactive, deliberate actions and behaviours aimed at overcoming addiction and maintaining sobriety.

For example, this can involve frequent therapy sessions, attending support groups, making healthy lifestyle changes, and developing coping strategies to handle potential triggers and cravings as and when they arise. In other words, it’s about taking an active stance in the fight against addiction and using the tools and resources necessary to maintain recovery over the longer term.

To recap the above, active recovery techniques typically involve:

  • Engagement in treatment programmes: The individual is open to participation in structured treatment programmes, such as inpatient rehab and outpatient therapy. Certain types of therapy for addiction may also be attended by the individual, such as cognitive behavioural therapy.
  • Attending support groups: Actively attending group meetings or support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), for support with any struggles that come with the recovery process.
  • Lifestyle changes: Making significant lifestyle adjustments that support sobriety, such as adopting a healthy diet, exercising, and avoiding triggers that could potentially lead to relapse.
  • Self-improvement efforts: Pursuing personal growth activities, like learning new skills, practising mindfulness or meditation, and engaging in hobbies that do not involve substance use.
  • Active problem-solving: Addressing the underlying issues that contribute to addiction, such as mental health disorders, through therapy and counselling.


Understanding Passive Recovery in the Context of Addiction

Passive recovery, on the other hand, might involve a less proactive approach to addiction recovery. This can look like:

  • Attending meetings or therapy sessions without actively engaging or applying the principles learned in daily life.
  • Believing that simply abstaining from substance use over time will resolve the addiction without the need for additional personal development or lifestyle changes.
  • Attempting to maintain sobriety by avoiding situations where substance use is involved, without actively developing coping mechanisms or resilience against triggers.
  • Not pursuing activities or strategies that help with personal growth, resilience, and the development of an identity after being in active addiction.

It’s important to note that addiction recovery is highly individual, and what works for one person may not work for another. However, research suggests that active engagement in recovery processes tends to lead to a better outcome.


Active Recovery or Passive Recovery Methods: Which Is More Effective?

Although the concept of passive recovery may appear less daunting, and even easier, maybe, it significantly understates the complexity of addiction.

Taking a passive approach to recovery, for some, may be seen as better than being in active addiction. But, the problem is that passive recovery often leads to temporary or superficial progress, as it doesn’t typically involve one of the most important steps of recovery – which is confronting and uprooting the underlying issues fueling the addiction.

Active recovery, on the other hand, is seen as a much more effective and holistic approach. By actively participating in the recovery process, engaging in therapies and support groups, and making positive lifestyle adjustments, individuals have the opportunity to directly address the root causes of their addiction.

So, although passive recovery might seem easier to manage, active recovery offers the chance to build a strong foundation necessary for enduring change. Recovery can be incredibly difficult at times, and this is especially true in the early stages. Encouraging individuals to embrace and actively participate in their recovery process not only enhances their chances of success but also provides them with the resilience needed to work through life’s challenges post-recovery.


Active Recovery Tips

Remember, all active recovery from addiction means is simply taking a proactive approach in whatever that means to you. But, if you’re struggling to know where to start, here are several pieces of advice for someone who wants to incorporate active recovery techniques into their lives:

  • Surround yourself with people who really support your recovery. This can include friends, family, or people you know who are also in recovery. We touched on this earlier, but support groups can be incredibly valuable resources for receiving communal support from people who understand your journey.
  • Consider therapy or counselling with professionals who specialise in addiction. They can offer personalised advice and coping strategies and help you address underlying issues related to your addiction.
  • A predictable routine can help reduce the uncertainty and stress that might trigger a relapse. So, to keep yourself engaged and motivated, try to incorporate healthy activities and hobbies that you enjoy.
  • It is so important to take care of your physical and mental health when in recovery. This includes physical activity, eating well, getting enough sleep, and engaging in activities that reduce stress and promote well-being.
  • Setting short-term and long-term goals can give you something to aim for and help you track your progress. Celebrate your sobriety milestones, no matter how small they may seem. Remember, recovery is a huge achievement, and it should be treated as such!
  • Identify triggers that might lead to relapse and develop healthy coping mechanisms to deal with them. This could include strategies like mindfulness, meditation, or even simple breathing exercises to manage stress and emotions.
  • Recognise the people, places, and scenarios that risk your sobriety and take steps to avoid them. You are likely to come across triggers in everyday life. It’ll get easier as time goes on, but setting boundaries with others is an important part of this process.
  • Recovery is an ongoing process, and it may require adjustments along the way. So, try to be open to trying new strategies if something isn’t working for you. And always remember that it’s okay to ask for help when you need it.


Find Support Today

Active recovery is a journey that takes a lot of strength and commitment. It’s not always a straightforward process, and setbacks can happen. If you or a loved one are struggling with the recovery process, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us today.

At Step 1 Recovery, we provide comprehensive and effective treatment to treat a broad range of addictions. We can also provide personalised relapse prevention plans to help you stay on track once treatment comes to an end.

Contact us on 0330 107 2950 today. Alternatively, fill out our contact form, and a member of our team will reach out to you.