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Recovering from substance use disorder (SUD) is a process. People change as they reach different stages of recovery. Tracking those changes often increases self-confidence and reduces stress. In addition, monitoring physical health, moods, and behavioral changes makes it easier to recognize if clinicians should alter treatment plans. West Coast Recovery Centers find healthy ways to keep detailed records of changes they experience during treatment and long-term recovery.

The Importance of Keeping Detailed Records During Recovery

People track their progress in reaching specific recovery goals by monitoring internal and external experiences. Following those changes allows individuals and their care team to notice positive and negative patterns, allowing them to make more informed treatment decisions.

The benefits of tracking thoughts, behaviors, and moods include:

  • Increasing self-awareness and mindfulness
  • Reducing the risk of being surprised by abrupt mood changes
  • Influencing stronger mind-body connection
  • Improving communication with the care team
  • Making it easier for clients and the care team to monitor progress

Tracking symptoms is especially important during the initial stages of treatment. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Patterns of symptoms resulting from substance use can help a doctor diagnose a person with SUD and connect them to appropriate treatment.”

People may begin tracking their moods, beliefs, thoughts, behaviors, and reactions at any time. Some people start before treatment and use the information they gather to help clinicians create a more personalized treatment plan. Other individuals may wait until they begin treatment or transition into aftercare.

Self-Monitoring Increases Self-Awareness and Mindfulness

Substance abuse affects how people monitor their health and well-being. According to Trends in Cognitive Science, “Drug addiction is characterized by compromised decision-making and behavioral monitoring, and inflexibility in modifying previously-rewarded behaviors that no longer produce favorable outcomes.” The physical structure of the brain is affected by chronic substance abuse. Sometimes, this makes it difficult for people to focus and maintain objective self-awareness. Likewise, clients may have difficulty recognizing the motivations behind their behaviors or changes in their thought patterns.

Treatment provides clients with the tools they need to establish healthy routines and record recovery progress. People who become more mindful of their internal and external experiences often respond better to therapy and other forms of treatment. Therapy ensures clients have the skills to self-monitor and increase self-awareness.

Some of the things people often monitor during recovery include:

  • Physical activities and general health
  • Medication side effects
  • Mood changes
  • Symptoms
  • Behavior changes
  • Triggers and the consequences of triggers

Clients work with their care team to determine which aspects of their daily lives they benefit from tracking. Clinicians often encourage clients to monitor multiple areas of their lives simultaneously to improve self-awareness and motivate personal growth. Tracking changes provides a good focus for individuals in recovery and allows them to gain valuable insights while reducing the risk of relapse.

3 Ways to Track Changes Every Day

Keeping detailed records requires motivation to maintain consistency. Data from monitoring moods, behaviors, and thoughts is more useful when people remain consistent in how and when they record the information. Multiple methods are often used to track aspects of day-to-day life during recovery. Below are three common ways people monitor changes:

#1. Use an App to Keep Detailed Records

Apps for phones, tablets, and PCs are an excellent way to track a wide range of things, including day-to-day experiences. Noting down mood changes, disruptive thoughts, or patterns of behavior in an app is quick, easy, and secure. According to JMIR Mental Health, “[M]ood tracking appears to be a common, relevant health feature that people track through apps.” Hundreds of free and paid apps are available to help people keep detailed records of their recovery.

#2. Use a Journal to Keep Detailed Records

Journals are a standard tool in addiction and mental health recovery. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), “Therapeutic journaling differs from more traditional diary writing . . . therapeutic journaling is an internal process of using the written word to express the full range of emotions, reactions, and perceptions we have related to difficult, upsetting, or traumatic life events.” People use journaling to record things they experience and their reactions to them. The care team can use this information to gain insights and provide individualized treatment.

#3. Do Regular Check-Ins With Your Support System

Everyone needs a support system to maintain positive mental health. Tracking changes is more manageable when individuals check in with people in their lives who can recognize slight differences in behavior, character, mood, or thoughts. Sometimes, people in recovery need to rely on others to point out when they have started to make progress or backslide.

Recording how multiple people view recovery can provide valuable insights and reveal positive or negative patterns for clients to discuss with their care team. West Coast Recovery Centers helps clients create a strong support system they can rely on to help them establish and maintain healthy routines, including keeping track of their recovery progress.

Many people with substance use disorder are unaware of how their condition affects their emotional and physical health during and after treatment. Clinicians often encourage clients to improve self-awareness and mindfulness by finding positive ways to track their moods, thoughts, beliefs, behaviors, and reactions. Mood journaling, creating a comprehensive schedule, and regularly checking in with the care team are a few ways people monitor their recovery progress and any changes they may experience. West Coast Recovery Centers helps clients gain self-awareness and personal insight by providing tools and resources for keeping detailed records during early recovery. To learn more about our treatments and services, call us today at (760) 492-6509.

West Coast Recovery Centers ( 370135CP), Valid through July 31, 2025
Jackson House Visalia (540056AP), Valid through May 15, 2025
DHCS Licensing and Certification Division