Principles of Resilience in Recovery 2020

principles of resilience

Been dealing with a mountain of stress lately?


COVID-19 has brought significant upheaval and challenges to millions of families in our country and throughout the rest of the world. In your life situation, as you are reading this article, it’s likely that on top of COVID-19, you have a special person in your life with a substance use disorder. Or you are struggling with substance misuse yourself. If so, you have been dealing with a mountain of stress over the last 10 months!


Principles of Resilience 2020

Methods of effectively managing COVID-19 and addictive disease have a great deal in common. In other words, a person needs to develop skills and strategies to cope in chaotic, rapidly changing situations that present real threat. You’ve had some pretty good practice at this already, as you’ve probably been reading Excursions articles for a while, right?  In previous articles, we have given step by step recommendations for dealing effectively with addiction. This article will take a different angle and focus on a condition of human temperament called resiliency. 


The qualities of resilience:

Some people can be effective in multiple challenging situations. Remarkably, these people can go through times of extreme distress and threat with grit. Whether it’s physical, mental, financial, social or intellectual, they come out of the challenge in better form than they went into the challenge. What is it about these people?  How can they do that? They overcome situations that stop other people from moving forward in their lives!


The answer is: these individuals can be described as “resilient”. This means they can apply knowledge, systems, and strategies of effectiveness in multiple challenging situations.  At this point, I’m guessing you’re thinking, “I want that. And I want that for all my family members too!”


Research on resilience

Over the last several years, there has been considerable research on the topic of resilience. Resilience has been applied and studied as it relates to PTSD in Veterans, all the way down to parenting our children. Books have been written on the results, and treatment interventions have been developed to assist people to become more resilient.


resilience in mountain climbing steep rock

Cultivate an attitude of survivorship!


In a recent Psychology Today article, “Seven Skills of Resilience”,  Katherine King, Ph.D., has written an article on the principals of resilience.


  Here are the “seven skills”: she cites:

  1. Cultivate a belief in your ability to cope
  2. Stay connected to sources of support
  3. Talk about what you are going through
  4. Be helpful to others
  5. Activate positive emotions
  6. Cultivate an attitude of survivorship
  7. Seek meaning


Practice Makes Perfect

I would like to share my thoughts on the article. First, please keep in mind that skills are something that we learn.  We learn them when we practice them regularly. The more we practice them, the better we get at the specific skill we are practicing.


This reminds me of a statement I often use in our Family Education Group at Sanford. The statement came from an article years ago by Earnie Larsen, “What we live, we learn.  What we learn, we practice.  What we practice, we become.”


principles of resilience man with dog on mountain

Stay connected to sources of support.



The above little statement pretty much sums up what will happen in your live when you put the skills of resilience to work.  When you practice self-awareness and mindfulness, you will come to know your beliefs and find your purpose. You are practicing elements of good self-care when you practice mindfulness – you become more self-aware. As you practice the above, you will feel so much better about yourself that your relationships will become more positive. It’s a full circle, folks!!


The principles of resilience will happen if you practice these skills consistently!  Not only will it improve your resilience, it will elevate your ability to deal effectively with a person in your life with a substance use disorder. In my next article, we will take a closer look at applying the skills of resilience. And in so doing, improve your effectiveness in managing substance use, misuse and dependence within family recovery.




Caroline (Carli) Parmelee-Noffsinger has 20 years clinical experience including: primary therapist and case manager for residential, IOP and outpatient therapy. Carli’s primary role at Sanford House is facilitating the Family Program. She is currently updating and revising the program design and content and hopes to improve upon an already successful approach to family intervention. In her free time, Carli spends time with her horse. She has been a horse lover and owner for most of her life and has facilitated equine therapy sessions. She says, “The back of a horse is good for the inside of a person.” You can reach Carli with questions about The Sanford House Family Program at