Recovery is a marathon, not a sprint. There are ups and downs in everyone’s journey. However, with some self-awareness and vigilance, it’s possible to avoid some real pitfalls in recovery. There are tools that can help people in recovery stay level and avoid setbacks like a relapse.
For most individuals, recovery has discrete phases. Every individual is unique, but decades of experience and data demonstrate that many people follow the same patterns as they enter recovery and continue through that process. Having some information about the typical phases of recovery can help prepare people for them.
The Pink Cloud
When people first enter treatment and start their recovery, they may feel amazing. They’ve been unburdened of a huge issue that’s been negatively impacting their life. People in early recovery sometimes describe feeling very light and incredibly happy. For most people, though, this feeling isn’t long-term. It’s known as the pink cloud. Usually, as people re-integrate into normal daily life, they experience something of a crash.
This isn’t meant to discourage anyone from getting treatment or trying to recover from a substance use disorder. It’s just that it’s important for people to go into recovery with their eyes open. Recovery isn’t a static state that never changes. There will always be something challenging that happens in life. People may experience family issues such as divorce or death in recovery. They will have to deal with economic highs and lows, like recessions and rises in gas prices.
Being successful in recovery means being realistic about the fact that life will always throw curveballs at people. Even after the pink cloud phase, it’s possible to navigate recovery and continue to make progress. For some people, recovery always requires work. That work may not be hard, but it will be important if people are going to maintain it and continue to grow.
At Granite Recovery Centers, we help people rebuild their lives and overcome substance use disorders. There are a lot of ways that we do this. Basically, it all boils down to giving people the tools they need to get better. For many people, substance use is a coping mechanism for stressors that occur in their life. Sometimes paramedics, firefighters, and police officers deal with trauma on the job. This can be hard to manage.
But even for people who work in an office or stay at home with their kids, substance use disorder can be an issue. By giving people tools to effectively manage life’s challenges, it’s possible to help them move away from substance use. The tools that people gain in recovery are designed to help them take care of themselves and communicate more effectively. It’s important for people to realize that recovery is a process, not a destination. Staying recovered means building a toolbox and learning to use those tools throughout the rest of their lives.
Using new tools is a challenge. Think about the first time you learned a new skill. Whether it’s binding books or hitting a baseball, it takes repetition to get it right. No one is an expert the first time they try something new. In recovery, people basically need to re-program themselves. They need to change their approach to building relationships and solving problems. This can become a part of their routine in the long term. But in the beginning, it can take a lot of effort and conscious thought.
When people are actively using substances, they might resort to behaviors that are manipulative or dishonest. Unlearning these can be a key to having a more successful and fulfilling life. That’s very doable. Thousands of people make the change every year, but it takes a lot of effort and self-awareness, especially in early recovery.
Talk It Out
One of the simplest ways to stay on a positive path during recovery is to stay in fellowship with other recovering people. 12-Step meetings are one great way of doing this. In many locations, there are 12-Step meetings every day. In large cities, there are meetings even more frequently than that. People are usually advised to try out six meetings before deciding whether the program is for them. If nothing local is a good fit for a specific individual, there are also phone and online meetings.
One of the greatest gifts of 12-Step programs is that they address the issue of relationships. In meetings, people learn to listen and to share. There’s also often fellowship after meetings, at coffee shops, or diners. All of this can help people early in recovery learn how to have successful, meaningful relationships and communicate more effectively. The skills learned in these meetings can even carry over to work life.
In addition to meetings, it’s important to have people you can call if you really need to talk. These might be friends you know from recovery groups, or it might be a religious figure like a pastor or priest. Some people have a sibling or long-term friend who they share honestly about the obstacles they’re dealing with. When you’re frustrated, it’s important to let those feelings out in a healthy way and process them. Sometimes, once you start talking about something, you realize what the solution actually is.
At some time in recovery, everyone becomes overwhelmed. That’s true for everyone in life, really. When you start to feel this way, there’s a way to handle it: by reaching out and communicating about it. It’s vital to contact someone you can trust because they can help you just by listening. Feeling heard is a better way to deal with emotions than picking an old, bad habit up again.
Establish Positive Habits
It’s important to set aside some time to take stock every day. Some people do this by meditating. For some recovering people, the best time to do this is in the morning, before starting the day. For others, it may be at night. Spending some time to deal with what’s happened at work, at home, and in other contexts can help people be more self-aware about how they’re feeling and what is motivating them at the moment. This can help with feelings of complacency or boredom, or on the opposite end of the spectrum, high amounts of stress.
Another positive habit that can be helpful to people in recovery is staying grateful. Studies suggest that an attitude of gratitude can help people feel happier overall. In recovery, some people make a gratitude list daily. For others, it may be more of a once-in-a-while practice. Gratitude lists can be a wonderful habit to start, though. Doing this daily will keep it at the forefront of your mind. That means that when you really need it — like on a day when you’re moody or angry — you will be both ready for this exercise and accustomed to doing it.
Journaling is a useful tool that uses creativity for many people in recovery. It’s another way of getting emotions out and relieving yourself of stress. Revisiting old journals is an important part of this. This will show you the progress you’ve made over time. Or, it may show you something you’d forgotten about yourself. You might be surprised about how effectively you handled problems in the past, for example. Looking at an old journal might remind you of how great recovery can feel as well. Keeping these memories close at hand can be very valuable.
Setting goals for yourself is another positive way to stay motivated. Be sure your goals aren’t too lofty or unrealistic, especially in the very early stages of recovery, as it could be disappointing if you don’t meet them. By setting small, feasible goals, you can check them off as you go, and by doing so you’ll feel accomplished as you continue down your life path.
Take Care of You
Recovery impacts all areas of someone’s life. It affects the individual’s mood, family relationships, friendships, and performance at work. One way to support a continued recovery is to seek to be healthier in all aspects of life. For example, eating healthy food and exercising can help people feel better overall. These practices can help improve both mental and physical health.
Another crucial form of self-care is getting enough sleep. Most people function best on eight hours of sleep, though that can vary. For you, it might be seven or even six. Figure out how much sleep your body needs to recharge. Consider keeping a sleep journal, at least early on in recovery. Make getting that number of hours a priority. In some careers, it’s difficult to sleep at the same time each and every day. However, people who can get to bed at the same time every night may be able to get into a better rhythm overall through a normalized routine.
During a slump, people in recovery may find themselves straying from the healthy new habits they’re trying to establish. When that happens, it should be a warning sign. Staying up too late may feel good in the moment, but it can have consequences later in the day. It can impact your ability to be present in the moment on the job and at home with your family. Pay attention to how you are feeling, and notice the times when you start to deviate from them. Drifting back into bad habits is a sign that you may need to reach out for support.
Sometimes, lifestyle changes and fellowship with other people in recovery aren’t enough. When that happens, it’s prudent to get professional help. This can take many different forms. One of the first steps might be to find a therapist. This might be a psychiatrist, psychologist, or social worker. Often, therapists specialize in specific areas. Take this into consideration when you’re trying to find the right fit.
In choosing a therapist, it’s a good idea to find out a little bit about what methodologies they use and who they normally treat. For example, someone who specializes in treating children is probably not the best fit for an adult with a stressful career. Sometimes, a therapist will realize that they’re not the right person to treat a client after a first appointment. In that case, they may have a referral for you. If you encounter this situation, don’t be discouraged. Recovery is worth the work of finding the right fit.
Article Source: www.graniterecoverycenters.com