Addiction is defined by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) as a chronic medical disease that is treatable and is characterized by complex interactions between a person’s environment, life experiences, genetics, and brain circuits. And while there are intricacies of how addiction is defined, one thing is certain— addiction is a complex disease.
Whether it’s an addiction to alcohol, also referred to as an alcohol use disorder (AUD) or substance use disorder (SUD), addiction claims lives every day. People of all ages, genders, socio-economic levels, backgrounds, races, and educational levels succumb to their painful addictions on a daily basis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that drug overdose deaths grew by 9.6% from 2016 to 2017.
There’s no doubt that the statistics are discouraging but it’s important to know that every day thousands of people struggling with addiction take the first vital step towards recovery and ask for help. If you or someone you love is living in the pain of addiction, Futures Recovery Healthcare is here for you.
Taking the first step and reaching out can be life-changing. Long-lasting recovery and living a vibrant, happy life is not only possible but is happening for thousands of people every day. It all begins with the first step.
Expectations in Early Recovery
Transitioning from life in active addiction to one in recovery is different for everyone. For many, the first days, weeks, months, and even years can be spent in what is referred to by many as ‘a pink cloud.’ As the mind and body begin to clear and heal, the world comes alive again. What once was dreaded becomes an eagerly anticipated part of the day. From things as simple as taking a walk in nature and reading to spending time with family and being a productive part of society, life in recovery can be an amazing, joyful experience.
But, recovery is different for everyone and not all people in recovery or sobriety will experience the ‘pink cloud’, and those who do enjoy this elated part of recovery often don’t stay in that space forever. Just like any other part of life, recovery has its ups and downs. It’s vital to be realistic about recovery and your expectations. Having unrealistic expectations can often make the road of recovery more challenging.
As mentioned, for some early recovery is amazing, for others it is a daily struggle. But no matter what, life long recovery and happiness are within reach for all.
In early sobriety, there are some challenges more common than others. Here are some of the most common challenges in early recovery and some tips for managing them successfully.
- Living Alcohol or Drug-free
For almost everyone, there is a lot of ‘new’ in the first months of recovery. The first new is not using alcohol or illicit or prescription drugs. This is often the most difficult part of the journey. Not only is the mind used to the substance, oftentimes the body is too. This is why seeking treatment at an addiction treatment center with medical detox is so important. Statistics show that many people relapse during the detox phase due to uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Medications properly administered by experienced, compassionate clinicians can make a difference between relapse and continued sobriety during the first critical phase of recovery.
- New People, Places, and Things
But living life without alcohol or a drug is far from the only ‘new’. Most people who have an addiction have centered much of their life around their substance of choice. This has resulted in friends, routines, and places they go being tied to their addiction. Once the individual leaves treatment, new friends, routines, coping skills, and hobbies must be established to secure long-lasting recovery. It’s vital to choose a treatment center that knows this and offers the supports you need once you leave the doors of their facility. Futures knows how crucial this is and helps their patients to have the resources and skills they need to establish strong footholds in recovery. From monthly alumni meetings and outings to ongoing telehealth therapy for alumni and their families, Futures’ comprehensive care continuum gives patients the tools they need to make long-lasting recovery a reality.
- Building a New, Better Life
One of the most critical components of long-term recovery is adapting new coping skills and new hobbies and activities. Through group and individual therapy, new, healthy coping skills replace old, unhealthy ones. However, establishing new hobbies is often overlooked while in treatment. Leaving your old life behind may seem scary at first but this is the time to create the life you’ve been dreaming about. Life, free from addiction, can be amazing, and now is your time to make your dreams a reality. Remember, life is full of possibilities and whatever you imagine can happen—make it all you want. Futures supports you in this journey through all their treatment programs. Their unique Experiential Program empowers individuals to find new activities and hobbies they love which can continue outside the walls of the treatment facility. An experiential and adventure-based treatment program at Futures provides opportunities for patients to learn new activities and hobbies as well as build their self-confidence through activities like scuba diving, skydiving, paddleboarding, fishing, and more.
- Participating in Support Groups
It’s essential to establish a system of support once you leave treatment. Having like-minded individuals who not only understand the recovery journey but will be there for you throughout can make a huge difference in not only the length of sobriety but in the quality of your recovery journey. 12-step groups that have been around since the 1930s and have helped millions of people across the globe maintain sobriety make this a foundation of their programs. In 12-step programs members are encouraged to have a sponsor. This is a person who has at least one year of consecutive recovery who has worked the steps and is willing to help the newcomer to stay sober. Whether it’s a 12-step group, Refuge Recovery, Celebrate Recovery, or another support group, making this connection is key to long-lasting recovery.
Long-lasting Recovery—Staying the Course
When you take the first step to recovery the road ahead may seem long and hard, however, many others felt just like you and they are now living their best lives ever. You can too. The first days, weeks, and months of recovery can present challenges, but it’s important to remember that life always presents challenges and with the right tools you can overcome and thrive through each one.
In order to maintain long-lasting recovery, it’s vital to continue on your path using all of the tools on a daily basis. As life gets good again (or maybe for what is the first time) it’s easy to forget how ‘sick’ with the disease of addiction you once were. Continuing to attend support groups and alumni meetings and events as well as reach out to those individuals in early recovery are essential habits to keep up with throughout your journey.
Remember, addiction is a chronic disease that through daily and regular maintenance can be managed. Just like asthma or diabetes, it doesn’t go away. Staying the course you create and remembering how bad life in active addiction was are important to living a vibrant, happy life of your dreams in recovery.
If you’re ready to take the first step towards long-lasting recovery, Futures is here for you. Contact us confidentially online or call 561-475-1804.