As human beings we have a remarkable capacity for dealing with serious events when things hits the fan. It is when difficult, challenging circumstances are perceived as insurmountable—when we find ourselves without the physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual resources to deal effectively with stressful events—that we find ourselves in crisis. A crisis can be any event or series of events that create an unstable, potentially dangerous situation affecting an individual, family, group, community, or whole society. All crises share several defining characteristics that include being unexpected, producing high levels of uncertainty, anxiety, and stress, and representing a threat (real or imagined) to those affected. A crisis situation can revolve around a specific incident such as an earthquake, tornado, tsunami, an industrial accident, or a terrorist attack. A crisis can also be related to any substantial change in the events that comprise the daily life of a person and his or her closest significant others. Such circumstances consist of situations that are life-altering and include everything from medical emergencies, serious injury, and long-term illness, to crime victimization, to the loss of a job/ career and/or extreme financial hardship, to active addiction that can no longer go unaddressed. Personal crisis is a state of psychological disequilibrium (imbalance) that occurs when extraordinary events trigger extreme stress within an individual. But it takes much more than just an extremely stressful event to create a crisis. Crisis results when the individual interprets the event as a grave threat—physically, mentally, emotionally—to self and/ or significant others, and their usual methods of coping are either not available or ineffective. Crises that challenge our perceptions of life-as-we-know-it and throw us into complete turmoil create substantial and meaningful opportunities for growth and change. Such opportunities may never have existed before, at least not in the conscious awareness of those caught in crisis. The swamping of existing coping abilities makes clear that well-worn ways of thinking and acting are no longer sustainable. This is especially true for problems like addiction, where intractable patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving become deeply entrenched over time. Those caught up in crisis face an either/or dilemma: either adapt and develop expanded awareness and new coping skills or regress to lower levels of functioning. For addicts this translates to “either go on as best we can to the bitter ends—jails, institutions, or death—or find a new way to live.” This blog post is an excerpt from Some Assembly Required – A Balanced Approach to Recovery from Addiction and Chronic Pain by By Dan Mager, MSW; Published by Central Recovery Press (CRP).