You made the difficult decision that you needed help and you reached out for it. You started treatment and persisted through it. Now that you are on the other side you may be wondering what comes next. What does life in recovery look like now?
What Is Recovery?
Whereas formal treatment has some type of ending point where your appointments become less frequent and you gain more autonomy over your sobriety, recovery is not bounded by a beginning and end. Recovery starts when you commit to treatment and start to work on your substance abuse.
While in treatment, you most likely adhered to a rather strict routine to balance individual therapy sessions, family therapy appointments, case management meetings, and support groups. You may have participated in a sober accountability program as part of your treatment, which required you to complete testing several times a week. Recovery is far less regimented, and this provides both opportunity and risk.
The risks reside in the lack of monitoring and the chance to slip back into old habits. Less structured support can remove some of the barriers against relapse and give you reasons to fall into relapse. On the other hand, the opportunities are numerous. You have the chance to apply the coping skills you have gained during treatment to confront and conquer triggers and create new, healthy patterns in your daily life. It is a time of transformation and potential.
While the risks may bring fear, leaning into the opportunities can provide a buffer against that apprehension. The reality is that addiction is treatable and sustained recovery is possible. It is true that relapse can be part of substance abuse recovery for many people, but it is preventable with proper support.
Even so, relapse does not erase all of the progress of treatment. It does not mean that recovery must start over and that you are back to square one. You have put a tremendous amount of effort into your treatment, and you have the tools to keep on track with recovery, even if there are some unexpected twists or tumultuous bumps in the road.
The 4 Tenets of Recovery
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), recovery is characterized by four fundamental tenets. These are health, home, purpose, and community.
Health is important to recovery because maintaining sobriety is a protective factor for your physical, mental, and emotional health. Choosing to leave substances behind means prioritizing your health and putting your mind and your body first.
Recovery is supported by having a safe and stable home. Without a place where you belong, it can be easier to sink back into the allure of substances. Other protective factors are having a purpose and a community. When you have a purpose, you have a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
For some, this might be a fulfilling career. For others, this might be volunteer work for a cause they are passionate about. Purpose looks different for everyone because it has to do with what specifically inspires and motivates you. It is crucial to find your own purpose, one that makes substances pale in comparison to it.
Lastly, having a community of people who care about you is essential to your recovery. These people understand you, support you, and have been there for you not only in the good times, but in the dark times as well. They can be honest with you and keep you accountable when temptations arise.
The importance of Hope and Resilience
Recovery is guided by hope and resilience, two intertwined principles. Hope is the sincere belief that things can get better after addiction and that the future has potential despite the obstacles of the present. Resilience is the ability to adapt and recover when unexpected challenges arise. These ideas most likely influenced you throughout treatment as well.
Hope that there could be a life free from addiction brought you to treatment and gave you the motivation and strength to commit to it. Resilience helped you to persevere when it was more difficult than you could have imagined.
It is important to know your resources when you are in recovery. You can reach out for help if you know how. Reaching out to your treatment team when you start to struggle can provide extra support when you need it. In the event of a relapse, your providers can help to introduce new coping skills to prevent another slip. Continually practicing those coping skills in low-stakes situations can ensure they are readily available when you need them in a crisis.
If you experience other stressors, such as the death of a loved one or the end of a romantic relationship, being proactive and seeking out counseling can reduce the risk of falling back into substance use to cope with those emotions. Additionally, attending support groups or programs like Alcoholics Anonymous can connect you to other people who understand and provide role models who are more experienced in recovery.
How to Support Someone in Recovery
If you love someone in recovery, it is important to remember the process is not linear. Staying positive and encouraging your loved one even when things are not going to plan is an important aspect of supporting them. In addition to remaining consistent and patient, it can benefit your loved one if you remind them of the reasons they are putting in so much effort in recovery, whether that is family, friends, a job, or a special cause. It is also important to remind them of their resources when they need them and remind them that they are not alone.
Being in recovery means your life is back in your hands. You once again can do the things you love and spend time with the people who are important to you. Just as you worked hard in treatment to develop solid coping strategies and process difficult emotions, you will need to work hard in recovery. There will continue to be triggers and temptations. Sometimes it might feel like you are back where you started. That is all part of the process. At Family-Centered Services, we emphasize setting you up for success in recovery from day one. We have been there, and while it’s hard, it’s possible. Our licensed clinicians use evidence-based treatments to give you the resources you need to achieve sustained wellbeing. We offer individual and family therapy, a Family Recovery Program, comprehensive case management, and sober accountability. Call us today at (509) 991-5822 to get started.