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How Understanding the 3 Zones of Recovery Can Help Revitalise Your Recovery

April 26, 2017

Many addiction treatment specialists view addiction as black and white: you are either actively using or are in recovery. Under this framework, the leap from sobriety to addiction can happen in a single moment, and you are virtually one decision away from relapse at any given moment.

At The Cabin Chiang Mai, a different approach is used, one that gives recovering addicts a greater sense of control. The technique is called Recovery Zones.

The Cabin Chiang Mai Rehab Center

The Cabin, an international rehab centre in Thailand has pioneered the Recovery Zones model

The Three Recovery Zones

Each of the three Recovery Zones is defined by a series of behaviours:

  • The Active Zone is composed of all self-destructive and compulsive behaviours. The goal is to eradicate these behaviours from our lives. For someone who struggles with alcohol addiction, alcohol consumption of any kind represents the Active Zone. Gambling, viewing pornography and taking drugs are additional examples of Active Zone behaviours, but the Active Zone will look different for every individual based on his or her struggles and goals.
  • The Danger Zone represents the grey area between active use and recovery. When you are in the danger zone, you are not directly participating in the behaviour you wish to abstain from, but you are also not in a healthy state of mind. Without a treatment intervention, the Danger Zone may quickly give way to the Active Zone.
    For example, a recovering alcoholic could be in the Danger Zone if she begins to walk down the alcohol aisle of the grocery store during each visit, to wish she had wine in the house after a stressful day at work, or simply to struggle with negative self-talk, which often used to be a precursor to her drinking binges. In short, anything that has the potential to compromise one’s sobriety is a behaviour that belongs in the Danger Zone.
  • The Recovery Zone is the ideal place to be. Healthy, positive behaviours are the bedrock of the Recovery Zone and include not only behavioural wellness but also physical well-being. Exercising, eating a healthy diet, nurturing friendships and relationships, and engaging in all types of self-care practices help to maintain one’s position in the Recovery Zone.
Recovery Zones from the Cabin Chiang Mai

Image of the Recovery Zones from the Cabin Chiang Mai

Different Zones, Different Treatment Approaches

What makes the Recovery Zones so revolutionary is not only the recognition of the “slippery slope” behaviours in the Danger Zone but also the fact that different solutions are recommended for each of the three zones.

That means if you are currently in the Active Zone, your treatment approach looks a little different than the Danger and Recovery Zones.

The Cabin takes a multi-pronged approach to recovery and maintenance, relying on 12 Step Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Mindfulness Meditation to support overall health and wellbeing.

  • For individuals in the Active Zone, a secular version of the classic 12-Steps approach is used to achieve abstinence and end the cycle of addiction/ compulsion.
  • Because the Danger Zone is characterized by slippery slope behaviours, CBT is used to retrain one’s thought patterns, responses and actions. Negative self-talk can be actively replaced with positive affirmations to avoid a stress-based relapse, for example.
  • In the Recovery Zone, the 12-Steps and CBT are combined with Mindfulness Meditation as a robust preventative measure. Mindfulness Meditation helps to nip problematic thoughts, emotions or actions in the bud thanks to early recognition. Rather than waiting for tension, stress, anger and frustration to boil over, a person skilled in Mindfulness Meditation can identify these emotions when they first bubble up, and can then take appropriate steps to encourage prolonged health and abstinence.

Clients at The Cabin Chiang Mai participating in mindfulness meditation

Use Recovery Zones to Reframe Your Thinking

If you have ever felt trapped by a cycle of relapse and recovery, the three Recovery Zones can help to reframe the way you think about your patterns of behaviour. By being aware of the Danger Zone, in particular, you’ll know not only when to seek help in order to avoid a relapse, but also the kind of treatment you need. There’s no sense in waiting until the Active Zone to talk to a professional! Enjoy longer periods of abstinence and a more satisfying life with this new framework as a guide.

Learn more about The Cabin: