What does recovery mean to you? How about being clean, or sober? If you’ve heard of addiction recovery, you likely think of abstinence. Basically, you don’t drink or use drugs. While this is technically correct, recovery from addiction means more than just abstinence.
When you’re living with addiction and you’ve hit rock bottom and had enough, you just want it to stop. You want freedom from active addiction. You want to stop the chaos and pain and the daily struggle of getting loaded and not being able to stop. You feel that if you could just stop using, life could get back to normal, and you might just have a shot at happiness.
Getting clean and sober isn’t easy. People often struggle for years, going back and forth, starting and stopping. For some, a few weeks or months of abstinence shows them that life doesn’t seem any better clean and sober than it did when they were using. Some people will hang on like that for years, “white-knuckling” it but still feeling lost, angry and miserable. Why didn’t things get better?
When you stop using drugs and alcohol, you have achieved abstinence. This means you are no longer using, even socially or recreationally.
This may be clean and sober, but it isn’t recovery.
Recovery doesn’t just mean that you stop using drugs or alcohol. That’s a good start, to be sure, but it doesn’t stop there. People who become addicted often have a lack of healthy coping skills, and commonly experience loneliness and isolation, self-centeredness and a lack of humility. These issues don’t just go away on their own. Recovery offers the opportunity to improve all areas of your life. It provides tools that can not only help you to experience continued relief from active addiction, but also a life that is healthier, happier and more productive.
What Does Addiction Recovery Look Like?
People in recovery spend time counting the things in life that they are grateful for, not the things that aren’t going their way. They try their best to live “one day at a time” which means that they don’t dwell on the past and try not to worry about the future. They do their best to do the next right thing and make choices that don’t hurt themselves or others.
No one “does” recovery perfectly. People will always make mistakes or fall short. When a person is working a program of recovery, he or she tries to look honestly at their mistakes and openly admit them rather than covering them up or blaming things on others. They apologize to others when necessary, and tried not to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.
The result of this is a sense of peace that comes from knowing that you are doing your best, and growth and self-awareness that comes from looking at yourself closely, flaws, assets and all.
Blessings of Addiction Recovery
People come into recovery at all levels and from all walks of life. Some come with nothing, not even a home, some come in with materially successful lives. Some have been broken to the point where they feel they can’t possibly go on. Some may have criminal records or child protective service cases. Some have lost their spouses and children as a result of their use. People who enter treatment or twelve step programs may feel that they have lost too much or are too far gone to ever lead a normal, fulfilling life again. In recovery, though, it soon becomes clear that this is never the truth. It is possible to build a new life, full of hope and possibility.
People in recovery have often had the privilege of witnessing tremendous growth and change in others, which is a reward in itself. People get clean and sober and begin working on themselves. They become able to be employable, even if they’ve never held a job. People who were homeless and living on the streets are able to purchase homes, and people who came in with little in the way of social or communication skills are able to enjoy close, loving relationships.
People see their hopes and dreams restored. The things they wanted for themselves go from being a far-fetched fantasy to an actual reality.
Of course, this doesn’t happen overnight. The work necessary to turn one’s life around is sometimes tough. You’ll look at yourself honestly. You have to, if you want to change the things that hold you back from your vision of success for yourself.
When Does The Journey of Recovery Start?
Recovery usually begins in treatment, or in 12 step meetings. Often, people who attend treatment will also participate in 12 step programs. Recovery may start with achieving abstinence, but it continues on to offer coping skills, relapse prevention skills, social skills and more. This may be done through a combination of individual counseling, group therapy, education and twelve step work.
In treatment, there is a large focus on behavior patterns, false beliefs, improving low self-esteem and learning coping skills so that you can get through life without turning to substances or unhealthy behaviors to deal with it.
Treatment is also an opportunity to develop a group of supportive friends who will be there for you. A common problem for many addicts is isolation and loneliness. This may start even before drug use, and only get worse from there. Even if you had a large social circle, you may still have found that life felt empty and that no one around you was really your friend. As addiction progresses, the isolation gets worse.
Arriving in treatment, you may feel overwhelmed at the level of interaction you experience with peers and staff. If you have been on your own for some time, with only superficial interactions with peers, it might feel off-putting. Throughout the process, you’ll build social skills, communication skills and learn to cooperate and compromise. You’ll also begin the experience greater intimacy in all your relationships. This is sometimes a challenging process, as you allow yourself to open up and become more vulnerable.
Having Support From People Who Can Relate
The importance of surrounding yourself with the support of like-minded people cannot be overstated. It’s what will get you through those early weeks and months of new recovery, and what will keep you going when times get rough. Your support group will generally include friends, and if you choose to pursue twelve step involvement, a sponsor. These people will see you through the ups and downs you’ll go through on your journey. They will be your cheerleaders and supporters, and when necessary will call you out on negative behavior or dishonesty. People who are in recovery will often marvel at the level of support and companionship they gain in recovery, and wonder how they ever got by without it.
Of course, you may still have friends and family members who are not in recovery, and that is okay. These people may even be supportive and positive. But the reality is that no one can quite understand you like someone who has been there.
Importance of Service – Step 12
Service is often a big part of recovery. Service can mean helping other recovering addicts who are new get to meetings, sharing your story of recovery or sponsoring. Or, you may choose to find volunteer opportunities in your community. Studies show that people who do volunteer work are more satisfied with their lives. Volunteering also boosts self-confidence and self-esteem. When you help others, you help yourself in the process. Being of service can make you more grateful for what you have, and helps take the focus off yourself. This leads to greater contentment and satisfaction with life.
How To Find A Life In Sobriety
If you are ready for a positive change in your life, and an end to active addiction, Broadway Treatment Center can help. Broadway Treatment Center is an award-winning rehab that can not only help you overcome your addiction but also find a new way of life. We offer cutting-edge treatments and therapies that get results. Our facility and staff are welcoming and dedicated to your success. You don’t have to hit another bottom, you can get help today. For more information about Broadway Treatment Center , call 714-443-8218.