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Is recovery a lifelong process?

Yes.

Recovery is a lifelong process, a fight for your life, the rest of your life. But sobriety can be difficult, especially in early recovery. What commonly happens to people in early recovery? And how can you frame one-day-at-a-time in the context of a lifetime?  We explore here. Then, we invite your questions or comments about what addiction recovery is at the end.

Why is early recovery difficult?

At the beginning of the journey in recovery from addiction, it can be difficult to stay sober without changing associations once a person leaves a drug or alcohol rehab center. The struggle is just beginning. Leaving a sheltered environment, newly sober people enter into a world filled with the same pitfalls and struggles they left behind. In this life-long process of recovery, emotional imbalance is a problem. Frustration with bills, marriage, school, life (in general) can send years of recovery spiraling into the abyss.

Furthermore, if the environment is convenient for drug or alcohol use, the recovery process is even more difficult.  The street corners are the same. The job is the same. Those around you are aware of an anticipate your old habits. People wanting quick money will be more than anxious to offer a freebie and unless you have changed the way you think, locking in a strong resolve to save your life and protect those you love, your recovery is over the moment you leave the shelter of rehab.

Active alcoholics or addicts only care about the drug when into the drugs. Thinking about friends you can no longer see who are still in that world is sad, they are missed, but the lure of the drug prevents your seeing them. Sadly, the old adage is true; Misery loves company. If these people are a part of your inner circle, recovery will soon be lost. There is no love for anyone or anything, only the drug. So, what can you do to avoid the pitfalls of relapse? And how can you be happy and healthy in addiction recovery?

Making a relapse prevention plan

Many addicts find it difficult to let go of the past but this is the only way to move away from addiction. The one, perhaps most important, suggestion that experts make to people in early recovery is to make a relapse prevention plan. This is a formalized worksheet where you list challenges such as triggers, cravings, and emotional stresses and their solutions. A plan for relapse prevention helps you anticipate problems and to solve them in advance.

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Life is filled with stress, and this stress and the way it is managed will become a factor in drug or alcohol recovery. A drug addict has family problems like most people. Emotional upheavals push addicts into thinking, seeking escape. Feeling overpowered can create an urge for alcohol or drugs. Only the addict is able to prevent a relapse with a working stress management plan in place.

Additionally, making a plan for filling empty time is essential. Finding positive, productive hobbies and people to associate with helps recuperation. Stay away from people uninterested in your success, like alcoholism; you require people who will not bring whiskey to the party. This is why a relapse prevention plan is a CRUCIAL part of thinking through your old behaviors so that you can replace them with healthier alternatives.

How to get through early stages of recovery

1. Keep confident. Have faith in the process.

2. Keep in mind the reasons you are trying to maintain sobriety. Consider completing a CBA style worksheet like those provide by SMART Recovery.

3. Integrate many levels of care. Figure out your own personal 911. Who will you call when you need help? What medical team of trusted professionals can you lean on?

4. Work on yourself. Reacting to change in a healthy way is important, as is understanding that people are not going to automatically accept that you have changed. Most addicts have done a lot of damage and others are cautious. However, if the motivation for change is strong, you can succeed in the lifelong learning process of recovery.

5. Outline it all in a relapse prevention plan. As we mentioned early, having a plan to identify problems and their solutions is ESSENTIAL to addressing problems BEFORE they occur. Life is not easy for anyone. Challenges WILL come. Your chances for successful recovery will be increased if you anticipate obstacles and take action based on your personalized plan. You are unique! And so is your recovery!

Recovery is a lifelong process

While each person’s recovery is individual, there are many processes that people in recovery share. Reach out to connect with others in support groups, seek ongoing professional help through psychotherapy or behavioral therapy, and actively work on yourself. THIS is the process of lifelong growth.

Have any questions? Please leave them in the comments section below. We try to respond to all legitimate contacts with a personal and prompt reply.

Photo credit: PIX1861

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4 Responses to “Is recovery a lifelong process?
Ben
10:52 pm November 21st, 2014

Jake,
I agree with you 100% that recovery is a lifelong process. I have been a recovering addict for 9 years now and it is a daily struggle. I have relapsed and gone to rehab more times than I can count, I have personally found that a halfway house is what works best for me right now. I continue to attend daily meetings, but I like the structure and discipline that comes with living in a halfway house. I also like that it is same sex, so I don’t get distracted by women and I can focus on my recovery. Boca House for Men has changed my life and I recommend it to any man who is in addiction recovery!

Good Luck Friends,
Ben

JAMES
3:34 am November 29th, 2014

Absolutely it is. A person can go through all of the discipline and self control required to get sober but if he/she does not change his lifestyle it is only a matter of time before the disease takes hold again.
Change your routines, habits, activities, places you go and people you hang out with and you will have more success in establishing a pattern of sobriety that is easier to maintain. Once you are sober and have a new lifestyle that you find fulfilling you will be far less likely to fall back into old destructive ways of trying to enjoy life.
You will meet new people who know how to live and enjoy life with sobriety and will be less likely to be willing to risk sidetracking that new and happy life with alcohol.
And if you haven’t yet started your new, sober life it is never too late and will always bring you a better and happier quality of life regardless of what stage or age you choose to begin!

JAMES

Donna
12:33 pm February 18th, 2015

Hi im Donna and ive had a meth addiction for 23 yrs approx, and my body has finaly got to the stage where i cannot stop break outs, {pimples, sores.} all over me. Seems like they just pop out of no where, more and more and end up big ugly sores that takes weeks and or months for them to heal and clear up on my skin. ive not had meth in four weeks now and still have terrible sores all over me, is there somebody out there who can suggest a cream etc, that is quickly effective for this problem please. I would love nothing more than some advise pleeeease !!!

Robin C.
11:55 am April 11th, 2015

I have been an opiod addict for over 10 Years now. My Husband and I have spent over $10,000 on my trying to get clean. I just couldn’t sleep for days and days. I would also hurt after the initial withdrawals were over, I would have panic attacks, anxiety, high blood pressure, plus I’m Diabetic. I would wake up right after reaching a certain r.e.m. during my falling asleep stage, and I would just wake up feeling like I was either having a stroke, or a heart attack. I couldn’t take the panic attacks or anxiety and the tingling I felt in my back. I was told it was cravings. Where I went to rehab, there were no N.A. meetings, only A.À. meetings. I gave up and gave in 29 days into my rehab. I felt like I was literally dying and slowly doing so. I would give any arm of mine to be amputated to be sober, “normal” again. Anyone else had similar experience? Any advice help, words of encouragement would all be appreciated. Prayers work as well. Thanks so much and God Bless.

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About Jake Sandino

Jake Sandino is a writer focused within the realm of addiction and substance abuse. He achieved his own recovery through a holistic alcohol and drug rehab approach.

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