CoRR-nerstones of Recovery

By Christina Lasich, MD
Medical Director

Recovery happens at Community Recovery Resources (CoRR). When addiction and/or pain happen, building a recovery foundation starts with the CoRR-nerstones of Recovery.  Addiction can start before pain or pain can lead a person down a pathway of addiction. Either way, both roads end up in a hellish place where lives and families can be destroyed. At that junction, an individual feels powerless when surrounded by such an unmanageable set of circumstances. In order to save a person’s life, save a family and restore health to the community, we start with the CoRR-nerstones of Recovery.

  1. Provide Chemical Stability: The first treatment priority is to establish chemical stability in the brain. A chemical roller coaster ride that may involve opioids, alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana, sugar or any combination of brain altering chemicals will impair a person’s ability to contemplate change, to participate in therapies, and to make better choices. The constant ups and downs sensitize the central alarm system, the central nervous system, to the point that pain, anxiety, depression and insomnia spiral out of control. Establishing chemical stability in the brain starts with abstinence or rational pharmacotherapy. An example of rational pharmacotherapy is switching from taking short-acting hydrocodone around-the-clock to taking long-acting buprenorphine. This switch will take someone off the chemical roller coaster and put him/her onto a calmer merry-go-round. However it is achieved, chemical stability in the brain is an essential CoRR-nerstones of Recovery.
  2. Motivate for Change: Change happens in various stages. First there is a pre-contemplation stage when one is not quite aware of the need for change. Next is the contemplation stage when recognition of a problem and confidence in the ability to change will grow. This is followed by the development of an action plan and taking steps towards making the change occur. When someone is struggling with pain and/or addiction, change and transition need to happen in many aspects of life. For example, cutting back on smoking is an excellent example of someone contemplating change because he/she knows that tobacco use is not helping the chronic back pain situation. All of the stages of change are key steps of a successful treatment plan because ambivalence will kill most chances of recovery.
  3. Relieve Suffering: The common theme shared by individuals with either chronic pain or addiction is suffering. Both cause life to feel out of control, both are overwhelming, both can appear to have no end in sight, both can lead to social isolation, and both cause fear. Pain and addiction collide in a place called suffering. In order to leave that hellish place, certain strategies can be used like living in the present so that the fear of the future is eliminated. Another strategy to relieve suffering is to be flexible so that new interests in life can be developed in order to replace the unhealthy interests or interests that can no longer be done. By identifying sources of suffering and finding ways to circumvent them, suffering can be relieved and recovery can happen.
  4. Infuse Resiliency: A person that is afflicted with a disease like addiction or the experience of chronic pain has one priority: to survive. Surviving the disease, surviving setbacks, surviving change, surviving stress, surviving pressure are best accomplished with a resiliency response. Resiliency is the ability to cope well, bounce back, overcome, change, and do no harm. Teaching resiliency skills can be as simple as helping a person re-discover a childlike curiosity in order to learn new skills, hobbies, and lessons. Yes, a person can learn his/her way out of difficult times. Curiosity is just one way to infuse resiliency into someone struggling to recover from a setback.  Discovering a power greater than self is another pathway to surviving uncontrollable circumstances with a healthy, resilient response.  Once these new strategies are learned during the recovery process, a person will not only be able to survive, a person will be able to thrive.
  5. Improve Health: Finally, saving someone’s life must include a plan to improve health. Poor mental and/or physical health can completely undermine even the best recovery efforts. And what better way to improve health than by starting with a complete nutrition make-over. For example, sugar is the ultimate enemy to someone with pain and/or addiction. Sugar can worsen a painful condition by promoting inflammation. Sugar can also prime the brain’s reward center for a chemical abuse relapse because of a concept called “cross-addiction” which means that a person’s addictive behavior can be reinstated by using a different mind-altering substance. Eliminating sugar can improve a person’s health to the point where pain and/or addiction can both be managed more effectively. Other aspects of health like exercise, sleep, and life-style habits also need to be evaluated in the comprehensive recovery plan.

These CoRR-nerstones of Recovery provide a foundation from which lives can be transformed. Chemical stability, motivation for change, relief of suffering, resiliency and health are all necessary to save a life from being consumed by pain, addiction, or both. With all five in place, recovery can happen.  A spirit can be reborn.  And as self-will is surrendered, the journey can be continued.


1) The Resiliency Advantage; Al Siebert, PhD; Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco, 2005

2) The Nature of Suffering and the Goals of Medicine; Eric J. Cassel; Oxford Press, New York; 2004