What Does It Mean to Have Agency in Your Recovery?

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Recovery is a very personal, individual experience. You can be forced to go to rehab, but you cannot be forced to recover and be sober. That is a decision you must make on your own. This is because you won’t take treatment seriously; instead, you will just wait until rehab is finished so you can go back to using. Taking control of your own recovery is needed to get through treatment and then maintain your sobriety afterward. You will feel more in control of your life and your decisions, causing you to feel better yourself when you see the effects those good decisions have on your life. There are ways to take control and have agency in your own recovery, which will help you get sober and want to stay that way.

What Is Agency?

When a person has agency, it means that that individual is able to make decisions on their own, and of their own free will. People with agency act independently to make their own choices. In addiction recovery, having agency means taking an active role in your healing to improve your life. You take actions that move you away from active addiction and into a life of sobriety. 

What Does Agency Look Like in Your Recovery?

The decisions you make and the goals you set for your recovery are yours and yours alone. Deciding what you want your recovery to look like and then planning the steps to get there will help you realize what kind of control you want in your recovery. Think about what you want your future to look like. Do you want to have better interpersonal relationships? Do you want to learn to save money? Do you want to eat healthier and exercise more? Deciding what you want to do will give you the time and resources to decide how to get to that point. 

How Do I Take Control of My Recovery?

Once you have made the decision to get sober, go through treatment, and then feel secure in your recovery, you can begin to make decisions more specific to where you want to go and what you want to do. These steps can help guide you once you reach this point in your journey to sobriety. 

What’s Holding You Back?

First and foremost, you need to identify what held you back in the past from accomplishing your goals. These things may include substance abuse, lack of motivation, family, finances, etc. Some things you list may be out of your control, and that’s okay. Focus on the things you can control and come up with ways to solve the areas of your life that are holding you back. 

Make a Plan

Just as discussed above, think about the things in your life that you want to change. If you want to save money, open a bank account, and talk to a financial expert. If you want to be a better communicator, practice your social skills and read about what it means to be a good friend. Making a plan in recovery involves not only the steps to achieve your dreams, but it also includes ways to stay sober such as relapse prevention strategies. Don’t forget that your sobriety should always be a priority.

Keep Your Values in Mind

Once you have identified what’s holding you back and resolved those problems and have made a plan for what you want your sobriety to look like, do a check and make sure you have not deviated from your values. Don’t get too excited about recovery and stray away from the priorities and responsibilities in your life. Choose things that will improve your life and move you in the direction of things that are close to your heart. 

Find a Motivator

There will be times in recovery when you don’t think you can progress any farther. For these days, you need to have a chosen motivator who will help pick you back up and get you back on track to achieving your goals. This can be religion, your family, breakfast each morning, or anything that brings you joy and pushes you to stay sober. When the days come that you want to give up, you can use this motivator to remind yourself to keep going. 

Practice Emotional Regulation

You may find yourself feeling overwhelmed at times in recovery. This is completely normal and must be worked at. Emotional responses to stressful situations can often hold you back in recovery if you are unable to cope with them properly. Practicing mindfulness and other skills to strengthen your emotional regulation will keep you from suffering the consequences of intense, unmanaged emotions. This will help you keep your cool in recovery and move forward rather than stopping every time something negative occurs. 

Take Care of Yourself

All of this hard work you’ll be doing in recovery can be mentally and emotionally exhausting. Depending on the treatment program, it may also be physically exhausting. Don’t forget to take a moment to practice some self-care every once in a while. Self-care is imperative to a healthy recovery process because it helps your body heal faster and helps you feel good about yourself. Eating healthy, exercising, getting enough sleep, going to aftercare appointments, and more will help you stay happy and motivated in your recovery, helping you make the right decisions along the way.


At Northstar Transitions, we urge all of our clients to take an active role in their own recovery. We want them to understand the agency they have, being able to make their own decisions concerning their recovery, where they want to go and more. Of course, we are here to guide you along the way, but you can shape your life into what you always dreamed it could be. By taking the necessary precautions and making a plan concerning your future in sobriety will prepare you for what is to come. It will also keep you motivated on the days that you don’t feel like trying anymore. At Northstar, you’ll always be encouraged to do your best and take control of your life in the ways you seem fit. We want you to leave our facility happy and ready to start your new life. Call us today at (303) 558-6400.