By LYLE R. FRIED, CAP, ICADC, CHC In Relapse Prevention, Tools for Recovery
Posted February 17, 2017
You just completed what may be the biggest milestone in your life. You made the decision to live sober, successfully completed treatment, entered into recovery, and are making the transition to “normal” everyday activities. But what does “normal” look like now? Life before treatment might have been one big blur because of your drug dependency.
Here are some things to expect during your first year of sobriety and some tips to get you through it.
You just made an incredible accomplishment! You realized there needed to be a change in your life and you took care of it. Sure, there was help along the way, but you never would have succeeded in your endeavor unless deep down you knew it was what you needed to do. This accomplishment is not something to take lightly. The first step is always the hardest, and you just ran a marathon.
Take it a Day at a Time
It is great to think long term, but in this instance it’s better to take things a day at a time. If needed, take it an hour at a time. Thinking long term can build anxiety and stress towards what you are looking to accomplish. Don’t think of this as a step backwards, think of it as taking time to focus on you so your future self will thank you.
Work on You
With your new outlook there may be many parts of life you’ll want to change. Maybe it’s moving, having a steady relationship, or finding a new job. Take a deep breath and slow down. Focus on yourself, and transitioning back to your home life. Take time to find peace and a life balance that works best for you. If you love reading, sit down with a good book. If you benefitted from a workout routine when in treatment, continue exercising regularly.
The main focus of your first year of sobriety is exactly that: staying sober. Anything else you accomplish within that first year is a bonus. That being said, there is no need to gather as many bonus points as possible. You passed with flying colors and now is not the time to be overzealous.
It’s all About Association
The first thing you might want to do when you come home from treatment is see your friends again. Friends can provide a great support system, so it’s important to surround yourself with those who will uplift and support what you are going through. Friends who choose to be sober with you can help make your transition back into everyday life a bit easier.
On the other hand, if addiction is prevalent among your old circle of friends, you may feel disassociated from them after returning from treatment. This is not a bad thing. It is a step that shows how much you’ve grown in this new phase of your life and that you are ready for a positive change.
Holidays can present a few unexpected challenges for individuals in recovery. Maybe your Mom likes a glass of wine with Thanksgiving dinner, or your uncle brings out his favorite brand of whiskey at the family Christmas party. People who have never struggled with addiction don’t always realize the small triggers that can lead to bigger urges later on.
For the safety of your sobriety, it might be best to talk to family members and inform them of what you are going through. In most cases, they will be happy to abstain from alcohol to help make your holiday celebration less stressful. If your family does not understand, or they don’t wish to make adjustments, remove yourself from the situation. Consider hosting your own holiday dinner or joining a sober friend’s holiday gathering.
Physical and Emotional Withdrawal
Detoxing from heavy drugs or alcohol is physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing. You have essentially removed something from your life that used to be a constant presence. Disrupting routine can lead to depression, anxiety, and other emotional problems. You may start to think that if you start using again you will be able to feel “normal.” It’s important to know how you can deal with these cravings appropriately instead of giving in to them.
Think of activities you enjoy doing on a regular basis. Perhaps you like reading, drawing, napping, or working out. Now, plan your day around these activities, creating a new routine for yourself. This will allow your mind and body to adjust more comfortably to your new “normal.”
At The Shores Treatment and Recovery, we believe lasting success requires more than completing a 90-day program. Long-term recovery is a constant mental, physiological, and spiritual process that needs continued care and reinforcement. If you or a loved one would like to know more about our addiction treatment services and our extensive aftercare program, please contact us today.