Early recovery can be a rather tumultuous time. It makes sense, seeing as people who have been living as slaves to active addiction are suddenly, once again in control of their own lives. Recovery is a major change. The good news is, there are many people who can help you and guide you along the way. If you have any questions or concerns about what steps to take, there will always be someone there who can answer your questions and offer you experienced advice. Some of the advice that you will hear in early recovery is, “Don’t make any major changes within the first year.” What they mean is, it will be important for you to focus all of your attention on your sobriety. Staying sober truly is a full-time job. This is usually not difficult advice to take, because the average treatment process – from start to finish – will take somewhere around a year. This includes roughly two weeks of medical detox, between one and three months of residential treatment, and around six or nine months of sober living. Boom! Somewhere right around a year has gone by! How convenient. Once you transition from inpatient treatment to sober living, the “real work” will begin. You will have more personal freedom, and you will be trusted with a fair amount of free time. You will need to start implementing the coping and life skills you learned while you were in addiction treatment, and applying them to real life situations. You will consistently have to make the right decision. If you have been in recovery for an extended period of time, this might all sound like common knowledge. But to those who are new to the scene, this is quite a lot to swallow. As a matter of fact, it will take more energy than anticipated just to do the right thing. Of course, it will get easier over time and soon it will become a habit!
Making Major Changes
So what exactly are these major changes that everyone keeps talking about? Here is a short (and not all-inclusive) list of some of the major changes that people might be talking about.
- Don’t get into any new romantic relationships. Romantic relationships can be very rocky, especially when you begin them at a time during which you are not completely healed and functional. It is very common for men and women to reach for things like sex when they are not right within themselves. If you do end up getting into a relationship, your heart will probably end up getting broken (it’s true – you will attract your life partner when you are thoroughly recovered and capable of being a good partner, trust us on this), and nothing is more triggering than a broken heart. An unfortunate amount of men and women end up relapsing after an early recovery romance fails to work out. If you are a man, stick with the men… if you are a woman, stick with the women! This advice is offered for a reason.
- Don’t make any big moves. It is highly recommended that you stay in the state you got sober in for at least a full year (yes, even if your family lives in another state). When it comes to early recovery, consistency is key. Staying in the same place will also allow you to seamlessly go through all of the recovery phases, from medical detox to sober living. You will not have to travel from place to place, which can be stressful. This will also allow you to form a solid group of friends who will stick with you during the recovery process. Making healthy and functional friendships is an important part of addiction recovery, and this is much easier to do when you are not constantly moving around.
- Don’t make any major career changes. If you were bartending before you went to treatment, obviously avoid going back to bartending. Working in a bar is not exactly “relapse prevention” friendly. But if you were in the food service industry before you went to treatment, consider getting a job in a restaurant that doesn’t have a liquor license, or working a produce stand at a farmers market. If you were a high-profile executive, you might need to take a short hiatus. People who worked jobs that they are planning on going back to once they return home will often find volunteer positions to occupy them before they return. If you have questions about your career path, most inpatient treatment centers and sober living homes offer vocational training. If something seems uncertain, don’t be afraid to ask for advice!
- Don’t file for divorce. Divorce is a major life change, and it is extremely stressful. Even if you are planning on filing for divorce in the future, wait until you have a solid year of recovery under your belt. If you need to, take space away from your spouse. You will learn to set and maintain healthy boundaries, which you can implement any time you feel doing so is necessary!
- Don’t get pregnant/have a baby. This one should be obvious… if it isn’t, feel free to give us a call and we will explain!
- Don’t take on any major endeavors, like starting your own business. There are few things more stressful than being a new business owner (especially in this economy, am I right)? Taking on any major endeavors in early recovery can be stressful, and stress can trigger relapse. Remind yourself, too, that once you are more stable in your recovery, your personal projects will likely be more successful because you will be more able to focus your attention on what you are doing.
- Don’t travel. Traveling short distances with a group of sober supports is great. Traveling across the country by yourself – not so great.
Which Changes Can I Make?
That seems like a pretty long laundry list. Fortunately, there are many changes you can make – positive changes! Here are some examples, and again, this list is not all-inclusive.
- Form a new circle of friends.
- Find a new hobby or two.
- Start reading again.
- Go back to school.
- Start working again.
- Work towards mending broken relationships.
- Work on bolstering self-esteem.
- Learn how to love yourself.
- Learn how to love other people.
- Learn how to truly, authentically laugh.
- Start painting.
- Treat your body right with adequate nutrition and exercise.
- Explore places you’ve never been (go on hikes and long walks on the beach).
- Learn to cook.
- Spend some time every day praying and meditating.
- Learn how to ask for help.
- Learn how to accept help.
- Learn how to receive help.
- Make a difference in the lives of others.
The list goes on, and on, and on. Change is the name of the game when it comes to addiction recovery. You can make major changes… so long as they are positive and internal.
Intrepid Detox Residential is available to help you navigate early recovery. Give us a call today to get started on your own personal journey of recovery.