Let's talk about the various ways to support yourself in addiction recovery.
When we talk about supporting ourselves, what we are really talking about is taking good care of ourselves.
And the key thing to realize about taking care of yourself and giving yourself good support in recovery is that this is a holistic endeavor.
Now, what exactly do I mean by the term “holistic” in this case? Why is taking care of yourself in recovery holistic?
In this case, when we say “holistic,” we are referring to the “whole person,” and not just one aspect of their life.
In other words, it is not enough to just practice spirituality in recovery and expect for that to carry you through to a successful life.
Addiction affected us in so many different ways, on several different levels. Just think about how your physical health was compromised due to your addiction....but also the fact that your relationships suffered greatly. And your mental clarity and focus was seriously impaired as well, wasn't it? Emotionally you were likely all over the board during your active addiction, and spiritually you were bankrupt as well.
So your addiction affected you as a person in so many different ways. Wouldn't it seem wrong to try to treat just one of these aspects of your life in recovery? For example, focusing in on spirituality only and completely ignoring your physical health, your mental health, your emotional stability, and your relationships? Wouldn't it be wrong to ignore 80 percent of your life while just focusing in on the 20 percent that you were hoping was what mattered most?
The truth is, all of it matters. I have lived in recovery for quite some time now, and I have watched my peers fall apart and relapse as a result of many different things. For example, I have watched many peers fall victim to a relationship that went sour and then caused them to relapse. Or another example–I have watched friends become physically ill with disease, and this wore them down to the point that they said “screw everything” and they drank liquor again. I have also seen mental health become the trigger that leads someone back to relapse–this has been quite common in fact.
In short, there are a million and one ways that your life can become compromised in such a way that it makes you more vulnerable to relapse. Now this doesn't mean that all of these things are excuses. Really there are two prongs in everyone's approach to recovery. The first prong is to stay clean and sober no matter what, right? You make the decision to abstain. But the second prong of your approach is to rebuild your life, take positive action, and generally reduce the number of temptations and triggers in your everyday life.
Oh sure, there will always be temptation out there in the future. But the truth is that you need to more than to just work on your internal conflicts and resentments–you must also arrange your external life in the real world to support your taking of more positive action. Don't hang out at the bar and expect to remain sober. Don't surround yourself with negative people and expect to be happy all the time.
In very early recovery you might want to consider going to inpatient treatment in order to get the help and support that you need. My recommendation would be to get on the phone and call a rehab center and start asking them questions. This is the first step that many people take in order to rebuild their lives.
Second of all, after you attend inpatient treatment, you would do well to support yourself by following up with your aftercare recommendations. So the therapy staff at the treatment center that you attend will advise you to do things like attend IOP, or intensive outpatient therapy meetings, or they will tell you to go to AA or NA meetings, or have you attend one on one counseling, and so on.
If you want to do well in recovery then my recommendation is that you do all of this stuff and more. This is your real support system that will carry you through from the initial phase of recovery when you are first trying to get sober, to that long term phase of recovery in which you are really living in more of a maintenance phase of long term sobriety. In order to build a bridge from early recovery to long term sobriety you are going to have to seek out a lot of support. You can get that support from many sources: Meetings, therapy, counseling, IOP, sponsorship, and so on. These are the tools of recovery that you need to tap into after you leave inpatient treatment. These are the kinds of things that will help you rebuild your life so that you can one day enjoy long term sobriety.
If you really want to support yourself in recovery then that is very possible at some point, but you have to build the foundation for that to become a reality. Which is another way of saying: You can't do early recovery alone. You might be able to live a successful life of sobriety in the long run, but in the early days you need the help of others. We cannot do it alone. Real addicts and alcoholics will need the help and support of other people in order to build a foundation in early recovery.
One of the reasons that you need help and support in early recovery is because you will constantly question what you are doing if you are all alone. If you are going to AA meetings every day or you are in a 28 day rehab program then there is no question about what you are doing and why you are doing it. You are fully committed to your goal and your actions are backing that up. But if you are all by yourself in the world and you are trying to figure out how to make things work by yourself and remain sober then you are going to be second guessing yourself constantly.
The truth is that you do not really have the mental energy or stamina to convince yourself to quit drinking, then figure out how to quit drinking, then take the actions that you need to quit drinking. Doing all three of those things is far too much for one person to handle all by themselves.
So what is the solution? You outsource some of it. You let someone else tell you how to quit drinking, rather than to try to figure it all out by yourself. This is how you get support in early recovery. No one can do it for you, but they can certainly tell you how they were able to get clean, and then that is one less thing that you have to wonder and worry about. This is just one way that getting support in early recovery can help to set you free.
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