Your Guidebook to the First Year of Addiction Recovery
During your crucial first year of sobriety, you will have a lot on your mind. Navigating this new life will be a challenge, but know this: you can handle it! To help, we’ve compiled this list of reminders, suggestions, and goals to aim for on your journey to clean living:
- Accept Your Addiction: Denying that you have an addiction gives it power over you. Recognizing your addictive tendencies and being honest with yourself about your cravings helps you keep your guard up against potentially risky behaviors that might lead to a relapse. Just remember: you are not your addiction. It does not define you.
- Your Friends and Family Want to Help You: It’s not always easy to admit that you need help, but you’ve already proven how courageous you are by going through rehab. Besides, asking for help is what your friends and family want you to do; they’re as invested in your recovery as you are. In fact, you should get in the habit of calling them before you feel a full-blown need to use. That way, they aren’t talking you down; they’re just having a conversation with you. Keep in mind that the hardest path to recovery is the one you try to take alone.
- Become an Active Self-Help Group Member: Human beings are social creatures, which means that your well-being will partially rely on your ability to make and maintain healthy relationships. There are many ways for you to go about this, but one of the most important will be your dedication to a support group. These are the people who understand what you’re going through and respect you for the choices you make every day as you battle your addiction. What’s more, these groups often represent places where you can give back and encourage others who are not as far along the road to sobriety as you.
- Your Physical Health Is Important: Chances are your addictive behavior took a toll on your body. In most cases though, you can undo much of the damage by making consistent, healthy life choices from here on out. Focus on healthy food choices, getting enough sleep, and exercising for 30 minutes a day, five days a week. If you don’t already, start monitoring your “health numbers” – your blood pressure, cholesterol, BMI, glucose, and lipid levels all give you a picture of how healthy you are, regardless of how you feel. Perhaps most importantly, if you’re a smoker, you need to quit.
- Financial Well-Being Matters as Well: Stress is probably a universal trigger for everyone who struggles with addiction, so getting and keeping your finances in order should be just as high a priority as staying healthy. If you haven’t already, learn how to create and live within a budget. If you have debt issues, work with a professional to address them. Check with your support group members to see whom they might have worked with to overcome similar challenges. Make the effort to save some money for the future when you can too. Every little bit will help, and it’s another way for you assert control of your life.
- Find Ways to Relax Without Using: Everyone feels stress on occasion and everyone needs to unwind. Your challenge will be discovering ways to do this without indulging in your addictive behavior. Meditation comes highly recommended by many famous celebrities and business tycoons who operate under great pressure at all times. Exercise comes highly recommended as well. You may need to dig a little deeper than symptoms though, and discover the root cause of your anxiety. Consider seeing a therapist on a regular basis until you’ve identified your core stressors.
- Become a Lifelong Learner: This does not necessarily mean going back to school, though the benefits of doing so are numerous. You could do something as simple as join a book club, which would also serve the purpose of helping you find friends that lead sober lives. Martial arts is a fantastic way to continuously challenge both your mind and body as well – the belt system that most schools use to track progress can be incredibly motivating, and they provide tangible evidence of your continuing “education.”
- Look for Ways to Help Others: One of the most powerful strategies for feeling better about yourself is to focus on helping others. Being an active member of your self-help group is one way to do this; another is to take part in charity work, or perhaps volunteer to be a part of a beautification project in your community. A word of caution though: your first year of clean living will be a challenge, and you shouldn’t get so focused on helping others that you fail to take care of yourself. If you start to feel overextended, slow down.
- Make Work Meaningful: Your job shouldn’t be a source of stress. If you fail to find a sense of satisfaction from what you do, perhaps it’s time to transfer to a different position or seek professional development. Look for ways to add more value to your role, like taking on extra duties or volunteering for special tasks. If all else fails, maybe a whole new job is in order – one that more accurately reflects the new and improved you.
- Celebrate Your Milestones: You should be very proud of what you’re doing. You showed remarkable commitment and tenacity just getting through rehab. Mark your one month, three month, six month, and one-year anniversaries with something special. Also, consider keeping a gratitude journal and writing three things in it every day for which you are thankful. The therapeutic effects alone make the effort worthwhile, and at the same time you’ll be reminded daily of how good your life is. Perhaps most importantly, remember that recovering from addiction is all about making progress, not being perfect. Learn to forgive yourself for small mistakes, and keep moving forward.
Call Rehab-Finder.Org at 877-251-4813 to begin the process of moving beyond addiction.