Early addiction recovery is arguably the most difficult, addicts and alcoholics are still developing the skills necessary to maintain a program of abstinence. On top of being newly sober, and a bit shaky, people in early recovery are often bombarded with a lot of information which can become a bit overwhelming for some. What’s more, it is common to hear conflicting opinions from those with significant time regarding the “do’s and the don’ts.” While it is important to listen to what those in recovery have to say, if you find yourself unsure about something regarding the program it is always best to run one’s uncertainties by your sponsor or therapist. Such people could be compared to a ship’s anchor, keeping you from drifting into unsafe waters. People in early recovery using the 12-steps should look to their sponsor as a model for how to work a program and maintain their sobriety. A common misconception that many alcoholics and addicts have when starting an addiction recovery program is that they still can use certain mind altering substances, and that they only need to stay away from the drug or drink with which they struggled. Sadly, that line of thinking is in error, many alcoholics who are new to recovery will smoke marijuana, and a number of drug addicts will continue to consume alcohol. More often than not, such actions will lead people back to their substance of choice. It may not happen overnight, but in time the idea will creep back in one’s mind that they can moderately use the drug that brought them to the point of needing recovery in the first place. The aforementioned misunderstanding may be in part the result of recovery nomenclature, and the multitude of 12-step modeled programs. The idea that somehow an alcoholic is different than an addict, and vice versa; alcoholics attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and drug addicts will often choose to attend Narcotics Anonymous. The reality is that Addiction is Addiction, if a person has ever used a mind altering substance to the point of despair, the likelihood that that same person could develop an unhealthy relationship with another potentially addictive substance or behavior is exponentially increased. If you are new to recovery, working a program to break the cycle of addiction, regardless of which 12-step program you attend please remember that no mind altering substance is safe. Hopefully, it is a warning you hear early on upon entering the rooms of recovery, and one that is heeded with vigilance.
For many young adults who require, or have required treatment for a substance use disorder, it usually means taking a hiatus from higher learning. Recovery, especially early recovery, demands one’s complete dedication to clearing the mind and body of drugs and alcohol, and learning the skills necessary for being able to not have to pick up a drink or drug ever again. Naturally, college is not going anywhere, but many young adults upon completing treatment want to rush back to school. Hurrying back to college may not be conducive to recovery, even if your parents or other family members are pushing for it. While college is a place of learning and working towards the future, it also where a lot of drinking and drug use occurs - which are extremely dangerous to be around in early recovery.
Thinking It ThroughBefore you commit to going back to school you should discuss it thoroughly with your sponsor and/or therapist. Even if you feel like you are at a place in recovery to take on the added pressure of a class load, they may not feel like you are ready for it and that such pressure may compromise your program. It is often said that people who are new to recovery should avoid making major life decisions during the first year. The more time you have, the stronger you are likely to be when the time comes to continue your education. Remember that failing to put the needs of your recovery first can become a slippery slope that leads back to a drink or drug.
Recovery Support NetworkIf you are at a place to where education will not strain your recovery, it is important to establish a support network where you will be attending classes. A number of colleges have dorms that house people who are in recovery, if you will be living in the dorms it may be in your interest to find out if that option is available. It is a guarantee that there are other young adults, like yourself, that you can connect with; staying close to such people will be of great benefit should a problem arise. Always remember you can find AA and NA meetings in every neighborhood.
Taking It SlowWhen going back to school, it is suggested that people working a program start with a smaller class load. Doing so will help you get your footing, easing you back into the swing of things and keep you from becoming overwhelmed. A number of people have dove head first back into college, taking over 12 units; this is often the result of feeling like you are behind your peers because you took time off to recover. Many of the aforementioned will relapse because they have taken on too heavy of a burden and their recovery was put on the back burner. Education is not a race, and as long as recovery comes first, you will have a better chance of staying clean and sober and come out the other side with a degree.
While every addiction treatment center has varying program lengths, it is generally agreed that the longer somebody with a substance use disorder stays in treatment - the better the outcome will be after discharge. After years of substance misuse and abuse, developing the skills necessary for long-term recovery will not happen overnight. Early recovery is a fragile time, clients are extremely vulnerable to relapse; longer time periods in treatment will protect clients from the pressures and temptations of the outside world. Not surprisingly, on the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) website the organization states that less than 90 days in treatment for addiction is of limited effectiveness, and “research has shown unequivocally that good outcomes are contingent on adequate treatment length.” NIDA is a federal government agency, one that lawmakers turn to when making decisions regarding addiction treatment in the United States. This week, the governing body of Medicaid proposed to cover 15 days of inpatient rehab per month for anyone enrolled in a managed care plan, NPR reports. While the proposal is a step in the right direction and one that would take some of the fiscal burden off state and local mental health agencies, there are a number of experts in the field of addiction medicine that say 15 days is not enough. "Where they came up with the 15 days, I don't know, but it's not based on research," says Mike Harle, head of the nonprofit treatment program in Pennsylvania. In the past, people battling addiction had to rely entirely upon state and local sources, so when the federal government offers to chip in, it is a sign of changes for the better. However, after 15 days a client is just beginning to come out of the cloudy state of detoxification and it is when the real work begins with regard to learning how to live a life free from drugs and alcohol. Even treatment facilities that offer a thirty-day program will almost always strongly encourage clients to enroll in either inpatient or outpatient extended care program. Clients who opt against taking such advice put themselves at great risk of relapse. There has been limited funding for researching what the optimal length of an inpatient treatment, with regard to how effective the outcome will be, according to Dr. Jeffrey Samet, a professor at Boston University's Clinical Addiction research unit. He adds that without such data, private insurance fluctuates with how many days of treatment they will cover. At PACE Recovery Center we offer extended residential care for men only – gender specific treatment, additionally we also have an intensive outpatient program and transitional living program. We are happy to work with our clients and/or their families to verify insurance benefits and coverage.
For all who are working a program of recovery, Pace Recovery Center would like to commend you for making it through the holiday season without having to use a drink or drug. We know that New Year’s Eve consists of people around the globe consuming copious amounts of alcohol, which cause people in recovery to crave alcohol or other mind altering substances. The temptation to drink can be strong. Every New Years, sadly, a number of people do end up relapsing, often the result of not staying focused on one’s program and forgetting that recovery comes first - always. However, those who may have relapsed need to pick themselves back up with haste, lest they make a bad situation even worse. Relapse is not a rare phenomenon, especially during the major holidays, and what’s required is that you re-commit yourself to the program. Call your sponsor, and get to a meeting as soon as possible. Don’t let a relapse cause you to lose faith in the program, the program works, you probably need to make some adjustments in how you work the program. On another note, there are a number of people who have made giving up alcohol and/or drugs their New Year’s resolution. Hopefully that goal is not fleeting, and you are willing to take certain steps to make sobriety a reality. There is probably a 12-step meeting close to where you live that you can attend. It’s likely that you know somebody in recovery, give them a call; there is a great chance that they would be willing to accompany you to a meeting. The hand of recovery will always be there if you reach for help. While attending 12-Step meetings is one way to begin, there are some people who need more help at the beginning. Withdrawing is extremely difficult, and the pain and/or cravings that some experience will drive people to use before they get to the other side of a detox. In some cases detoxification can be medically dangerous, many people are at risk of seizures, especially if you have been using benzodiazepines, such as Klonopin or Xanax. If you believe that you require medical assistance, followed by residential treatment, please contact Pace Recovery Center. We can assist you in finding recovery, and help you learn how to maintain continued sobriety.