So, you’ve made the decision to stop ruining your life at the hands of substance dependency and give addiction recovery an honest try. Admitting that you have a serious problem with drugs or alcohol can be difficult enough – imagining yourself committing to an entire lifetime of recovery might seem downright overwhelming. Impossible, even. How do people manage to string together several months of honest abstinence, let alone years? The further into your personal recovery journey you get, the more surprised you will become at how easy it is to stay on the right track so long as you’re doing what you need to do. You will also be surprised to find out several things about addiction recovery that you may not have expected. No matter how prepared you feel after completing inpatient treatment, the world of early sobriety is not always easy to navigate. Take a look at the following list, which explore several aspects of addiction recovery that you might not have otherwise considered.
15 Surprising Facts About Addiction Recovery
There is no “cure” for addiction, thus recovery will be a lifelong process. Some people might think, “Well if I do the whole ‘inpatient drug rehab’ thing for a few months I’ll be good to go, I’ll never crave drugs again.” The truth is, recovery is a lifelong process. Of course, in order to prevent getting overwhelmed by that concept, try to focus on “one day at a time.”
You will need to be on the lookout for substitute addictions in early recovery. Those in early recovery will often turn to unhealthy behaviors that are actually serving as substitute addictions. These behaviors can be anything from sleeping with strangers to spending an excessive amount of time at the gym. Be on the lookout and change these behaviors if they arise!
Every single journey of recovery will be different. What works for someone might not work for you. Maybe your friend only needs five Alcoholics Anonymous meetings per week in order to stay stable in his or her recovery. Maybe you need three. Maybe you need seven. Don’t compare, find your own way!
You will miss using drugs and drinking. It will happen. You might think that as soon as you get sober, the mental obsession will slip away. In time, it will. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be relaxing on the beach one day and think to yourself, “I could go for a cold beer right about now.” Acknowledge that occasional thoughts like these are normal and move on (don’t beat yourself up).
There is a huge difference between being clean and living clean. You can get clean and sober and still conduct your life the way you were before, or you can commit to recovery and become a truly awesome and respectable human being.
Changing your environment won’t be enough to keep you sober. You might think that moving to a new state will keep you sober. It won’t. Know what will? Completely changing your entire way of life.
People will tell you to not make any major changes within the first year of recovery. If you’re a smoker, they will tell you to keep smoking – that attempting to quit is a major change, and it can throw off your recovery. The sad truth of the matter is that more recovering addicts and alcoholics will die from tobacco-related health issues than from relapse. There is no bad time to quit smoking. Remember – it is better to “relapse” on nicotine than on your drug of choice!
You will want to work on developing friendships with people who are in recovery – and with people who aren’t. You might be told to stick with your sober friends, friends who can offer you support for issues that others might not be able to relate to. Remember that balance is good, and that there’s nothing wrong with having friends outside of your recovery circle so long as they actively support your recovery.
Gratitude will be a necessary part of your program, always. There are few things more powerful and beneficial than staying in a place of gratitude. Try doing things that help you maintain this practice, like making a gratitude list every morning or every night.
Make sure you’re aware of all of your relapse triggers, even the weird ones. There are some very obvious relapse triggers, like spending time at a bar or hanging out with your heroin-addicted friends. It is important that you take note of any unique relapse triggers that might crop up, even if they seem illogical (maybe playing billiards is a huge trigger, or going to the fair makes you want to drink).
It will be important for you to continuously help others in any way that you can. In addiction recovery, we learn the importance of helping other addicts and alcoholics. Remember that since you are now a functional member of society, you have the ability to help anyone who might be experiencing a difficult time. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or convince your garage band to play smooth jazz at a nursing home.
As your personality develops, your idea of a “good time” will inevitably change. What used to be fun will seem unappealing, and you’ll open up the door for a whole new world of true, authentic fun. There are few things as rewarding as exploring newfound hobbies.
You will need to continue working on your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Physical health is relatively straightforward – stay sober, eat well and exercise. Mental and emotional health will be improved by ongoing therapy and aftercare, as well as 12 step meeting attendance and working through the 12 steps with a sponsor. Spiritual health – now that’s the real kicker. Really, all it takes to develop a spiritual practice is several minutes of prayer and meditation every day, along with whatever other suggestions your sponsor provides. The trick is in staying committed and developing your own, personalized version of spirituality. It’s a fun and enlightening journey if you allow it to be.
Self-forgiveness will be huge. It will also take time. Beating yourself up when you backtrack or make a little mistake will be counter productive. Remind yourself that you are human, and that you’re allowed to mess up from time to time.
Shame will do serious damage if you allow it to. Unfortunately, relapse might occur, especially if you stray from your personal program of recovery. Once we stop doing what we’re supposed to do, we put ourselves at risk. It is important to understand that most recovering addicts and alcoholics will slip in very early recovery. Those that let shame and guilt keep them out of the rooms will continue relapsing and continue suffering. If you fall down, immediately get back up. You deserve to continue.
If you are ready to begin on your own personal journey of recovery, Intrepid Detox Residential is available to help. We understand that no two addictions are the same, and that as a result, every recovery journey must be highly individualized and unique. We offer a comprehensive program for those looking to begin living a better way of life. To learn more about our program, or to take the initial step and admit yourself into addiction treatment, please give us a call today. We are standing by to help in any way that we can.