What Is Recovery Literacy –

2 min


girl with coloring book

Recovery literacy is understanding the process of healing for everyone impacted by addiction. When a loved one uses, family relationships break down. Healthy communication is disrupted. Families often become paralyzed as the situation worsens. It takes months or years for healthy relationships to erode and become unmanageable. I call the impact of substance use on family relationships destructive conditioning. I’m not a therapist; I made up the term. So you won’t find it in the psych books.

Destructive conditioning can also take place over generations

Coping with addiction often means sacrificing honesty and feelings to protect someone, even loved ones who may be long dead. As addiction progresses, relationships worsen through destructive conditioning.

  • Knowing without acknowledging is one way of pushing reality away
  • Knowing without taking action is another
  • You get used to being in crisis all the time
  • You get used to not telling the truth
  • You get used to hiding your true feelings
  • You begin to think your unmanageable situation is normal
  • You’re afraid all the time but always tell yourself it could be worse

Stopping use doesn’t reverse destructive patterns

I was a mom who went through every destructive stage before becoming recovery literate. I can tell you that the family doesn’t return to healthy relationships just because a loved one stops using.

The whole family has changed, and recovery doesn’t happen overnight. One family member may still be protecting and enabling. Another may be codependent. Siblings and other members may be angry and reactive. As a parent, you may neglect others in the family. And all of you may place the blame on the person who’s now desperately trying to change.

Recovery literacy is the new language everyone has to learn

Family members, who have been hurt by addiction, often resist becoming part of the recovery process. I know I did. I wanted someone else to fix our problems. I didn’t want to work at being different myself.  I had to learn the language of recovery to help my child and myself.

After years of walking the walk, we developed a recovery activity book that is fun for the whole family and an easy way to learn recovery principles.

favorite scenes

Art aids recovery literacy

Most treatment programs include 12 step principles in group settings and journaling for self awareness. Many programs also include coloring pleasant scenes or mandalas for peace and serenity. This activity book blends all three tools together.

According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy is a mental health profession in which the process of making and creating artwork is used to “explore feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety and increase self-esteem.” So basically, it’s similar to good old therapy. Yet art therapy is not only about learning and improving yourself — it’s a means of personal expression, too.

  1. Find Your True Colors has 70 pages of soothing coloring and reflection. These scenes are perfect for people who desperately need safe, enjoyable, and convenient activities to keep their minds occupied and thinking about recovery, not relapse.
  2. Following the steps with coloring helps process recovery lessons using principles that promote growth and healing. We’ve also included popular recovery tools and slogans.
  3. Journaling thoughts and feelings promotes self expression.
  4. This book teaches recovery literacy. The whole family can learn a safer way to talk about tense subjects.


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Leslie Glass

Leslie Glass became a recovery advocate and co-founder of Reach Out Recovery in 2011, encouraged by her daughter Lindsey who had struggled with substances as a teen and young adult. Learning how to manage the family disease of addiction with no roadmap to follow inspired the mother and daughter to create Reach Out Recovery's website to help others experiencing the same life-threatening problems. Together they produced the the 2016 ASAM Media Award winning documentary, The Secret World of Recovery, and the teen prevention documentary, The Silent Majority, distributed by American Public Television. Leslie is also the creator of Recovery Guidance, the information website for those seeking addiction and mental healthcare for professionals nationwide. In her career, Leslie has worked in advertising, publishing, and magazines as a writer of both fiction and non fiction. She is the author of 9 bestselling crime novels, featuring NYPD Dt.Sgt. April Woo. Leslie has has served as a Public Member of the Middle States Commission of Higher Education and as a Trustee of the New York City Police Foundation. For from 1990 to 2017, Leslie was the Trustee of the Leslie Glass Foundation.

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