Addiction is hard—on your family, your relationships, your body, your legal standing, and the list goes on.
Recovery is hard too. In fact, often the first couple days in recovery can feel like the hardest and longest days of your life. But it’s worth it.
Recovery Is More Than Sobriety
If recovery were merely abstaining from drugs and alcohol, then it wouldn’t be worth the time and energy. But recovery is much more than sobering up. It’s about living a balanced life filled with hope, meaning, and purpose.
Much of what you will need to make your recovery journey possible, you already have inside. That’s right—you already have the tools and ability. You just need to learn to use the tools for a different purpose.
What You’ll Gain From Going to Treatment
You may have had a drink to deal with the feelings of guilt, shame, fear, anger, frustration, impatience, loneliness, isolation, intimidation, low self-esteem, anxiety, etc. But in recovery, you will learn to rely on support, relationships, hobbies, and structure to replace using substances to deal with those feelings.
1) Social Support
Support groups, such as A.A., N.A., and C.R., and other community groups are often the foundation to a healthy life in recovery. Finding new support and friends who understand what you are going through will give you a sense of connection and will assist in easing the anxiety, loneliness, and worries you may be feeling.
You will gain friendships you never expected with people who truly care about you despite your past. These supportive groups will provide you the opportunity to share your concerns, regrets, and fears without reservation.
2) Restored Relationships
You will discover the ability to re-establish the relationships you have lost or wounded during your active use. This often takes time as you may have spent years lying and manipulating. Be patient with them; they will come around as they see you continue to take steps to better yourself.
3) Regained Self-Esteem
Addiction robs you of your self-esteem. It’s nearly impossible to feel good about yourself when you’re addicted to a substance. Merriam-Webster defines self-esteem as, “a feeling of having respect for yourself and your abilities; a confidence and satisfaction in oneself.” To restore this feeling, you have to start by changing the way you live and reordering your priorities.
4) Healthy Self-Care
When you are taking care of your personal health and wellness, you are in a better position to take control of other areas of your life.
Getting good sleep, quitting smoking, getting to and maintaining a healthy weight, seeing the doctor regularly, getting regular dental checkups, undergoing recommended mental and physical health screenings, and making other positive choices that help you to stay healthy will help you to be at your best no matter what comes your way.
5) Steady Employment and Finances
No change is immediate, but over time, your employment opportunities will shift toward positive experiences and opportunities. You will discover you can be responsible and pay your bills. Maybe begin to save money.
6) Spiritual Growth
This is about finding a path, an inward journey on which you will find gratitude and joy. Growing spiritually is about discovering that there’s something or someone bigger than yourself and humbling yourself as you realize that you don’t have all the answers (and that’s ok).
For some, this is done through religion or going to church; others will find their spirituality in nature or relationships. However you find it, this journey will provide you the ability to live life with passion and a purpose.
7) Activities, Hobbies, and Creative Outlets You Love
One of the keys to a successful recovery is finding activities, hobbies, and creative outlets to replace bad habits you developed in your addiction. Join a club; take pictures; go on walks; spend time with people you love. It will look different for everyone in recovery—you’ll find what works best for you.
How to Start a Life of Recovery
The first part of the journey is to realize drug and alcohol use causes a deficit in your mental, physical, and spiritual wellness. At this point, you realize this is no longer the life you want to live and you are ready to make that change.
It’s important to be patient with yourself. Think how long you have been using/drinking. It also takes time to change life patterns for the better. It’s important not only to make attempts to rebuild broken relationships, but to eliminate toxic ones as well. For successful treatment, you will need tools to repair and rebuild every aspect of your life.
Is recovery hard? Yes, it is.
Is it possible? Yes, it is.
Is it worth it? Yes, it is!
Reaching out to a person or a program will truly make you immediately aware that you matter and your life matters. Life will begin to have some degree of structure and meaning.
Recovery is a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential. The old saying “Life is a journey not a destination” is so true to recovery. It’s day-to-day methods of gaining insight, learning to grow as an individual and make healthy choices.