Most people will agree that the first few months in recovery are the hardest. You're learning a new way of life, practicing different coping skills, and untangling some of the dark thoughts and feelings that once maintained your addiction.
While relapse can happen at any point, research shows that people who can obtain at least one year of continuous recovery have significantly better odds at staying in recovery over the long-term. Although it's undoubtedly challenging, committing to recovery offers you numerous benefits, including greater self-esteem, better relationships, and improved physical health.
Let's get into the best tips for succeeding during that first year.
Get The Right Treatment
You're not a failure if you can't recover on your own. You're human! We aren't meant to work through our problems in isolation- we are far more effective when we collaborate with others.
If you can't stop using drugs or alcohol, you may need medical detox and inpatient treatment. This is especially true if you're struggling with pronounced withdrawal symptoms or if you have a history of chronic relapse. Such comprehensive treatment will provide you with the structure, monitoring, and accountability you need.
Successful, comprehensive treatment should include:
licensed mental health professionals
treatment for co-occurring disorders if applicable
individualized treatment planning customized to your specific needs
a strong aftercare program
Keep in mind that effective treatment isn't just a 30, 60, or 90-day program. Even if you complete an episode of care, that doesn't mean the work is over. Most people benefit from long-term, outpatient care and staying in a structured sober living environment. Furthermore, it's not uncommon to continue with personal therapy or recovery meetings for several years.
Above all, it's important to stay consistent with your recovery by engaging in an appropriate aftercare plan. Getting sober can be easy, but staying sober is a different challenge altogether.
Know Your Triggers (And Plan For Them)
Unfortunately, triggers don't just disappear once you enter recovery. If anything, they tend to get stronger because you're now aware of the people, places, or things that make you want to drink or use drugs.
It's important to understand your triggers if you want to deal with them. Whether you journal about these situations, talk about them with a therapist, or just note them to yourself, identify the situations that heighten your emotional reactions.
Think about how you want to respond differently. It may be helpful to write down a list of effective coping skills you can use. You can refer to this list at any point.
Additionally, remember that it's okay to avoid exposing yourself to certain triggers right now. For example, if you feel uncomfortable around specific people, spend less time with them. If a particular place triggers a craving, don't go there. You don't owe anyone an explanation- you must take care of yourself and honor your emotional needs.
Stay Connected to Support as Much as Possible
You need people who can encourage, motivate, and confront you during this time. These people should have your back, and they should feel dependable and safe.
How do you find such support? You can start with other like-minded individuals, such as people in your sober living or at your recovery meetings, or in your alumni program. Chances are, they're also looking to build healthy connections.
It's also beneficial to stay connected with professionals, like a therapist, psychiatrist, or doctor. Even though these are working relationships, these individuals have your best interests at heart, and they can provide invaluable support and resources to you during this time.
Keep Your Expectations Realistic
Survival may be the only goal you have during your first year of recovery, and that's a perfectly reasonable goal! This journey may be the most important journey you ever take- try to treasure and covet the process for what it is.
Unfortunately, many people struggle with inflated egos and unrealistic expectations about what they think they should accomplish during this time. They may feel resentful towards themselves, and they may feel frantic about needing to make up for the lost time.
Remember that recovery needs to come first. You deserve good things, and you can achieve wonderful success, but patience is key. Take things slowly and remember to focus on the main priorities. If you don't put recovery first, you risk losing everything.
How We Can Help You During Your First Year of Recovery
At The Resfurface Group, we offer unique, customized treatment to clients recovering from addiction. We collaborate with you to help you achieve your goals, and we support your journey to becoming the best version of yourself.
The first year of recovery doesn't need to be scary or dreadful. When you do it right, it can be a lot of fun! Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.