Recovery Pathways: Choice

Recovery Pathways: Choice

Choice is a recovery pathway that focuses on autonomy and self-determination. For recovery to be successful, the individual must make the conscious decision to embark on the journey of healing and recovery. The importance of choice in recovery offers profound and multi-faceted benefits that will have life-long, lasting effects on the individual’s life.

One Size Does Not Fit All

Recovery is holistic, meaning that every treatment plan, every exercise, every medication, and every decision needs to be tailored to the individual, and include the individual’s opinions, feelings, thoughts, and choices need to be respected and taken into account. Recovery does not happen to someone, and no aspect of recovery should be decided without buy-in from the individual.

Discovering Strengths

When an individual is given the space and opportunity to make choices, they may tap into strengths they have never before discovered. Many people who struggle with substance use or mental illness have never been given options and choices regarding their treatment or other areas of their lives. They have never had the chance to identify and explore their individual strengths and qualities.

Questions To Prompt Choice

Whether you are part of a support system for someone in recovery or are in recovery yourself, learning to make healthy choices starts with some essential questions.

  • What are my goals?
  • What are my values?
  • Does this choice align with my goals and values?
  • What is significant about this goal?
  • What do I hope to achieve in this process?
  • Will this choice assist me in moving closer to my goals?
  • Is this choice rooted in fear and separation, or connection and self-love?
  • How will this choice affect my future?

Shifting Course

Consistently making choices every day, finding empowerment in those choices, and discovering your strengths through those choices, large and small, can subtly shift the course of the individual’s life. Each choice made is a part of the recovery journey, setting into motion the daily course of that journey. These subtle shifts will, in turn, change the long-term trajectory of the individual’s life.


Many people fear making choices, or rather, fear the repercussions and consequences of those choices. They will often equate choices with consequences. Shifting the perspective and attitudes on choice can help break down those fears. Curiosity and an attitude of exploration and experimentation with small choices can help the individual build self-confidence and momentum for making more profound choices. By reinforcing and celebrating choices and approaching consequences as a learning experience, that confidence will continue to grow.

Making choices is an integral piece of the recovery journey, one that can determine the individual’s perceived success. An individual that does not feel they had choices in their recovery and experienced no buy-in during the process is much less likely to adhere to treatment plans and maintain recovery.