Writing a Recovery Journal

Excerpted from Chapter 10 of The Recovery Book.

Many people who are sober and in recovery keep a journal. Writing things down can be a very powerful way to process your feelings and get them “out of your head.” Often, problems don’t seem quite so big or so awful once you’ve worked through them on paper.

A journal is also a great way to keep an eye on your progress as you move beyond active addiction and into recovery. A year or two from now, you might look back on what you wrote and be astonished at what you have accomplished. And proud of yourself.

Your recovery journal doesn’t have to be fancy—you can get your thoughts down in a notebook, email memos to yourself, use a recovery app, or just start a computer file. You can write about whatever you want. And no one has to ever see a word of it, so be honest.

What should you write about in your recovery journal? Anything you want, really. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Your emotions today
  • Feelings about being in recovery
  • Your overall recovery plan
  • Your feelings after an Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meeting or therapy session
  • Triggers you have identified
  • Your plans for avoiding addiction triggers and dealing with cravings
  • Things you are grateful for
  • Thoughts on running into old friends
  • Thoughts on making amends
  • Thoughts on patching things up in relationships
  • Your current priorities
  • Your motivations to stay sober
  • Your current strengths and weaknesses
  • Thoughts about finances, work issues
  • Your victories and progress in recovery
  • Your new view of yourself
  • An exercise log and new activities you want to try
  • Meditation and relaxation practices you’d like to try
  • Thoughts on your eating habits and new foods you’d like to try
  • Short and long-term goals
  • Reflections on your progress over time
  • Your hopes and dreams for the future


The Recovery Book

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How to Choose an Addiction Treatment Program

Excerpted from Chapter 5 of The Recovery Book.

Addiction treatment programs—inpatient and outpatient—can be quite varied. Some specialize in alcohol rehab, others focus on drugs. Some are just for women, others are just for men, and some are for teens only. Some focus on the LGBT community, particular ethnic groups, or chronic pain patients.


Addiction Treatment Programs – Basic Criteria

When you start looking for a treatment center, first consider several basic criteria:

Location. Can the patient as well as others in the family travel to a treatment center that is across the country, or is a center close to home preferred?

Treatment. What types of treatment are offered and what is the philosophy of treatment?

Certification. Are the counselors certified? Are there doctors on staff?

Expense. How much does it cost? Do they accept insurance? Do they have a payment plan?

Aftercare or continuing care. Is an extension program available near your home?

Success rate. What does the program claim?

Reputation and reviews. What do others say about the program?

Using the SAMHSA Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator and your own networks, find some programs that meet the basic criteria of most concern to you, perhaps location and costs.

Then take a closer look at those programs and see which ones measure up, using the more detailed criteria listed below as well as the Recovery APGAR score. Continue Reading →

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How to Choose an Addiction Treatment Program – The Recovery APGAR Score

Excerpted from Chapter 5 of The Recovery Book.

When a baby is born, doctors do a quick assessment of its condition using what is known as an APGAR score. You can do a quick screening of treatment programs using our Recovery APGAR system, which rates treatment programs on a scale of 0 to 10 on the basis of whether or not the most critical components are present. Any program that gets a score of 7 or higher is probably good.

You should be able to get the answers from websites or program materials, or by asking a program director, counselor, or admissions person the following questions. Award one point for each positive response. Unknown, ambivalent, and negative responses all score zero.


Alcoholism as a primary disease:

___ Does written program material state that the staff believe that addictive illness is a primary disease?

___ During the program is a patient required to complete a written life history?

Continue Reading →

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I’m sober. Now what?

New to sobriety and recovery, and not sure what to do, where to go? Wondering how to stay sober? Wondering what you can do to avoid a relapse?

The Recovery Book covers just about everything you need to know about treatment options, 12-step meetings, sponsors, rebuilding relationships, restoring health, going back to work, and much more. Some call it “the Bible of recovery.”The Recovery Book (2nd ed)

With all that information packed into it, The Recovery Book is a large book. So to make things as easy as possible, we put together a Quick Start Guide and some handouts. They’re all below, free to download right now.  Check them out, and see if The Recovery Book is right for you. 

And if you need to find a 12-step meeting, we’ve got that info right here: Find a Meeting.

The Recovery Book – Quick Start Guide (pdf)

The Recovery Book – The Recovery Zone System  (pdf)

The Recovery Book – The Recovery Zone System chart  (pdf)

The Recovery Book – Chapter Highlights  (pdf)

The Recovery Book – All Guides  (pdf)


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The Holidays are Coming! Sober Help is Here.

The holidays will be here before you know it. They can be tough for some people in recovery. But we’ve got lots of help lined up.

Read two of our most popular posts:

And don’t miss our guide to finding a meeting no matter where your holiday travels take you:

Be sure to follow along as we post more tips on Facebook and Twitter over the coming weeks. Use the hashtag #soberholidays and add your own ideas. 

Please share these resources with others in recovery! 

If you’d like to reprint the entire set of holiday tips, please see our Free Stuff page. 

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On the Radio! Dr. Mooney and Catherine Dold on WGN Radio in Chicago

Dr. Mooney and Catherine Dold recently had a great talk with Rick Kogan on his WGN Radio (Chicago) show, After Hours With Rick Kogan.

Rick chatted with us for 45 minutes about the face of addiction today, the gift of recovery, and what’s in The Recovery Book. He called it a “remarkable book that could probably save your life.”

Give a listen over at WGN Radio – After Hours with Rick Kogan.







The Recovery Book

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