The Steps to Recovery

06 Feb The Steps to Recovery

Getting clean from drug and alcohol addiction is a process – a recovery process. No person who begins using drugs or alcohol becomes an addict or alcoholic overnight. Recovery works the same way and it takes time, effort, commitment, dedication, willingness and hope. This process works in a series of steps or phases outlined below:

Realizing you have a problem and that you may need professional help. This sounds simple but in reality this is probably the most challenging step. It requires admitting the truth to yourself: you can’t control this, Lord knows you have tried. Many individuals are in denial about the severity of addiction even though loved ones may point it out over and over again. People may begin using drugs and alcohol by choice but over time addiction is no longer a choice but an insidious and uncontrollable disease for which there is no cure but there IS treatment.

Understanding that change may be necessary. Most addicts and alcoholics are profoundly sad, lonely, frustrated, ashamed, guilty and miserable. As awful as these emotions sound they are familiar and many people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol become resigned that they will die that way. There IS another way and that involves embracing the idea that change is possible even though it’s scary. The fear of the unknown always is. Most people have become so used to living in misery it feels like there is no hope of anything else. As uncomfortable as change can be it beats living trapped in the prison of addiction.

Explore your options for help. Considering that maybe there is a better life in sobriety opens your mind up to exploring options for help. The bad news is that drug and alcohol addiction is an epidemic; the good news is that there are numerous resources available to you because of that. The first steps in the recovery process are mental; the next step is beginning to take action. This is where Georgia Drug Detox professionals can get you well on your way. Detoxing from drugs and alcohol is the first physical step towards you recovery process. Withdrawals from drugs and alcohol have very real physical and psychological symptoms some of which can be life-threatening. This is why they should always be done under professional detox care.

Begin building a network. From the moment you make a decision to get clean every person who is your cheerleader becomes a part of your network of support. These include people you will encounter in detox who going through the same thing you are; looking for the same thing you are. This is the idea of all working together for a common goal. As you become physically clean and sober your network of support will continue to grow. The Fellowship of Alcoholics/Narcotics Anonymous is a great place to find ongoing support. If you decide to enter an inpatient rehab/treatment program you will meet more people (just like you) and you will start to see that you aren’t alone. Many of those people may not only become a network of support but perhaps even friends for years and decades to come.

Learn and practice a new lifestyle. The recovery process does not end with treatment; in fact many people believe this is a lifelong process with opportunities for growth at each step. Habits that you learned and are continuing to practice now become a part of a sober lifestyle. Recovery is not a phase or a fad – it’s a lifestyle. In your newly sober life do you wake up early? Do you make your bed? Do you exercise, meditate, or pray? Do you eat at a certain time? Do you read? Do you go to 12-step meetings? Do you nap? Do you get coffee with sober buddies? Do you go to bed early? It is suggested that all the routine things you’ve become accustomed to doing in early sobriety you should continue.

Be aware of triggers and cravings. Having cravings and triggers does not mean you are failing, it means you are human. As you are getting comfortable with your sober lifestyle understand that triggers and cravings while very real do pass. You don’t have to act on them but don’t ignore them either. Acknowledge that they are there, seek support and avoid situations, places, things, or people that you notice are related to you experiencing a craving or trigger. Knowing and talking about this is important because it will protect you from acting on them. Usually newly sober individuals don’t discuss triggers and cravings because they are afraid others will think their sobriety is somehow lacking. NOT TRUE. Be aware but don’t be afraid. Talking about your triggers and cravings helps get them out of your head and in the open. It will help you become more accountable for your actions and reinforce the principle of honesty and integrity.

Start enjoying your life. Face it; you got sober to have a life. People sometimes say life in sobriety is boring. Remember addicts and alcoholics become accustomed to living in chaos and an absence of chaos may feel like it’s boring but its non-chaotic and stable. If you find yourself bored start doing all the things you said you wanted to do but never did because your addiction took over your life. Maybe you started using drugs and alcohol at such an early age that you don’t even know what you enjoy as an adult. Try new things. You lived your addiction to its fullest now do the same with life. Pick up hobbies, find your passion, help others, take up a sport, take a class, learn to paint, train for a marathon, spend time with loved ones, travel…you deserve it.

Remember it’s a process. Through it all remember that recovery is a process – much like the cliché, recovery is a journey not a destination. There are obstacles and pitfalls and if/when you encounter an obstacle and fall pick yourself up and continue moving forward. This isn’t a perfect path but then again what is? Continue to practice all the things you have been learning and never allow yourself to forget your past.

“Please, Lord, teach us to laugh again; but God, don’t ever let us forget that we cried.”

Bill W.

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