Phases and features of the Transition Cycle, adapted from Hopson

I started reading about transition theory prompted by an article in the Psychologies magazine I was reading yesterday – and found it fascinating. think this may be what MTM is referring to in her comment to Another Day One?

the first thing I find interesting about the graph is the question whether the decision to get sober is a positive event or a trauma or loss. because I think for many of us there are elements of both those things. and it doesn’t matter which it is, to a certain extent, because the graph runs in parallel for both classifications. but where it is a loss, and I think it was for me, you feel worse before you feel better. at a time when you are doing something really, really hard.

so then you gradually start to feel better, peaking at about 60 days. and then, oh bugger, you start to feel worse again. seriously? what is with this shit?

oh, and look. me at nearly seven months. deciding which of the alternative paths to follow: quitting, extended crisis, partial recovery, or transformation. because those are very much the markers on the cross-roads of my life at this very minute. which road to take? getting sober is so binary to a certain extent. you can’t be a little bit pregnant, or a little bit sober. you either are, or you ain’t. C&T or G&T. but what this graph shows is that yes, it is a little bit more complicated than that (my new mantra, copyright Ben Goldacre ๐Ÿ™‚ )

the best summary of the practical implications of this graph I could find is here. The whole article is well worth reading but key points include:

  • the process takes longer than most people expect – typically 6-12 months, sometimes longer.
  • multiple transitionsย can produce a cumulative deterioration in well-being if the individual is unable to recover before another change: a warning light for anyone dealing with other lifecrap while trying to get sober.
  • factors enabling succesful transitions include: economic security, emotional security (including support networks: check!), health, andย prior transition skills.

‘The least understood part of transitions is how the mind reconstructs itself and adapts to a new reality….Once begun the restructuring or recovery process can occur within a few weeks. It liberates creativity, confidence, optimism, a search for new meanings and a Gestalt* type quest for a fully integrated view of the new reality. To see a person transforming their life in the recovery phase is like watching a flower open.’

I personally found this graph really encouraging. it explained so much of how I have been feeling since getting to three months sober, and gives me hope that as long as I continue to do the work towards recovery I will continue to feel better every day.

right, possums. let’s blossom!


ย * definition here that made me giggle. I never know what it means, either.