Addiction and Recovery
Addiction help for early recovery. Specific things that you can do to in order to increase your chances for success in staying clean and sober.
Overcoming addiction is no easy task. In fact, it can be downright overwhelming at first.
It would be helpful if someone sat you down in early recovery and explained the truth to you. The truth about what? About everything. There is so much information flying at you in early recovery that it can be difficult to keep up. We have to sort out what is truly helpful for us versus what is just helpful suggestions that do not really apply to our situation. This can be overwhelming.
So I've attempted to separate the wheat from the chaff here and attempted to point out what the truly helpful information is. Here are some of the truths I've learned about addiction and recovery:
1) Everyone underestimates the task of staying clean at first - so be aware that nearly everyone who tries to get clean has to try at least a few times before they even make it to 30 days clean. The task at hand is monumental and nearly everyone underestimates it.
This is because of conditioning. When we approach other tasks in life we expect that a modest effort will produce modest results. With recovery this is not true. A modest effort will ensure relapse. You have to swing for the fences.
2) Networking becomes less effective over time - in the beginning, having support is great. It's all about helping each other to stay clean, right? What they never tell you is that this will only carry you so far in recovery - then you have to start creating a new life for yourself. The extent to which you depend on others for your recovery is the extent to which you are vulnerable to relapse.
3) All the sayings and slogans are wrong or at least misguided - "meeting makers make it"....oh really? Then why do so many keep showing up and getting their one day tag over and over again? Some of the sayings might be helpful for you at times but beware that they are edging out your ability to have some original thinking. Find what works for you in recovery and apply it. Repeating cliches like a robot in 12 step meetings does not keep someone clean.
4) Abstinence is the baseline; true recovery is in creation - what the heck does that mean? It means that quitting the drugs and the booze is just a start, and the real path to long term recovery comes from creating a new life for yourself. Recovery is about action. Living is about doing stuff. If all you do is give up the drugs, you're going to be in for a struggle.
5) Spiritual growth is not the solution - holistic growth is the solution. Holistic meaning "your whole self" - physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social. Our addiction affected every part of our being so why would the solution just be spiritual? It's not. The solution is bigger than that. Therefore the optimal approach to a successful recovery is a holistic one in which you push yourself to grow in several areas of your life.
6) Quitting drugs and alcohol is not elimination, but instead is a structural change - This is especially true if you are young. What we want is not to simply eliminate the drugs and alcohol from our lives, but instead to make sweeping structural changes. Why? Because that is what it will take to make the changes really stick. Structural change means big changes, from the people we hang out with every day to how we spend our free time and possibly even what job we work at. They have a saying in traditional recovery: "The only thing you have to change is everything." They are talking about big structural changes that impact your entire life. If you are young and have heavy peer influence then how can you expect to remain clean without getting new friends? You can't. Plain and simple. That is why structural change is so important.
So there you have it. Those are some of the universal truths that I had to learn the hard way in recovery. Hopefully they can benefit you too.
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