The new Recovery Zone System is the "backbone" of the new second edition of The Recovery Book.
Over many years of treating alcoholics and addicts, Dr. Al saw that two issues were messing up recovery for many people:
- One, people in early recovery often had no idea how much time and energy they would have to focus on recovery activities.
- Two, people with many years of recovery sometimes lost their focus on these activities as the years passed.
Both of these situations, he saw, all too often led to a downward spiral that put people at high risk of relapse. So he developed the The Recovery Zone System (pdf chart).
The Recovery Zone System is a road map for a life in recovery. It gives clear guidelines on when and how a person in recovery can address various areas of life—treatment, fellowship activities, relationships, education, career, finances, recreation, and health — now that he is striving to put his life back on track. It helps him to know when he is ready to move forward in each of those areas. And it helps him to see when he might need to move back for a bit, to avoid a relapse.
The Recovery Zone System greatly strengthens the concept of “living in recovery.” It divides life in recovery into three distinct zones:
- The Red Zone: Stop. Activate your recovery. For the first eighteen months or more of recovery, you need to focus first and foremost on saving your life. Nothing else is as important. Nothing.
- The Yellow Zone: Proceed with caution. Build your life. Once you have a solid eighteen months or more of sobriety, you’ll move into the Yellow Zone, where you can put your energy into building the life you deserve and making your existence more fulfilling.
- The Green Zone: Go. Celebrate your life. After you have a few solid years of sobriety and have rebuilt your life, you’ll move into the Green Zone. Then it’s time to celebrate your life, do what you can do to live a long and healthy life, and help others find recovery.
As you build your new life in recovery, you will naturally move from one zone to the next, from Red to Yellow to Green, with lots of guidance from The Recovery Book.
In early recovery, the Red Zone, you’ll focus almost exclusively on the activities that will save your life: detox, treatment, getting involved in a fellowship. It is not the time, for example, to try to go back to college. When you move into the Yellow Zone, you can start rebuilding: find a new job, start a new relationship, try out a new exercise routine, or go back to school, among other things. By the time you reach the Green Zone, life is pretty darn good. That’s where you’ll find that complete and wonderful life of serenity, honesty, and peace you were promised.