Addiction recovery revolves around self-care; tending to physical, mental, and spiritual well-being is paramount. While these facets of working a program are simple in theory, they are challenging to manage in practice, for some.
Each person with a history of addiction understands that the disease, when active, deprives them of being able to lead a healthy life. Soon they begin to grasp that to stay on course will require their vigilance in adhering to a lifestyle that means putting welfare first. Still, many people in early recovery will seek distractions from the cause which can prove detrimental.
The first year of addiction recovery is an unstable period for most individuals; it takes significant lengths of time for the mind to heal. It may take even longer for men and women to trust their decision-making process. Learning to make the next right move, continually, takes practice; and, following the lead of others is especially helpful.
Persons learn to adhere to the various principles of recovery from those who have come before. So, in a sense, addiction recovery is something that is passed down. Newcomers discover how others maintain by attending meetings, working with sponsors or recovery coaches, and listening. There is much to glean from a two-minute share; one might find the solution to a current problem by paying attention.
Some people, with little recovery time, will convince themselves that they are ready to dive back into life at full tilt. It is understandable! After years of being consumed by addiction, many newly sober individuals find themselves with an insatiable hunger for life. While a carpe diem attitude is okay for people without mental illness, those in early addiction recovery benefit from pumping the brakes. Taking on too much, too quickly, is risky.
Keeping Responsibility In Check
Working a program teaches that recovery must come first. Healing and progress are top priorities for all who desire lasting recovery. Unfortunately, many pitfalls and traps can destabilize one’s program. Too much responsibility and romantic entanglements are two of the most significant causes of relapse. Of course, the latter source of trouble can be folded into the first.
Committing oneself to be emotionally available, to be present for a partner, is a significant responsibility. Along the road of addiction, many men and women never experience or forget the look of a healthy relationship. What worked (or didn’t) while using is unlikely to be helpful once in recovery. It’s probably fair to say that most people in recovery didn’t know what a wholesome relationship looked like before finding sobriety.
While working a program enables people to strive for non-toxic romance, it is not a guarantee. Removing drugs and alcohol from the picture, alone, does not provide people with the tools necessary for being in a nourishing partnership. Such skills come about through working the steps with a sponsor and continued sobriety. Many people discover that there are codependency issues that must be worked out before being in a committed relationship.
Males and females must engage in how to be responsible and accountable to their recovery, first. Relationships ask a lot of individuals, tending to the needs of others cause one to neglect their own. While the comfort of another human is always lovely, those who seek it in early recovery risk jeopardizing their program.
Ideally, those seeking romance will have a strong support network in place and have a fair amount of clean and sober time. Moreover, those who wish to be romantic also benefit from having worked all the steps beforehand, significantly.
Pets, Plants, and Romance in Addiction Recovery
There are many divergent opinions about relationships in early recovery. "The Big Book" does not specify an exact length of time to wait before becoming involved. However, sponsors often encourage sponsees to work the steps and wait a year. The year rule can also apply to other aspects of life; waiting a year before taking on notable obligations is helpful, too.
Some sponsors say that if a person can nourish a plant, then maybe they can handle a pet. If they can tend to a pet, then perhaps they can sustain a relationship. The object of attention isn’t as vital as the ability to manage its needs.
Men and women in early recovery may balk at such advice, but there is wisdom behind the suggestion. Taking care of a plant, for instance, can be beneficial to well-being in more ways than one. Katie Wheeler, a Seattle-based illustrator, has some informative thoughts about rearing plants.
Her cartoon, appearing in The Washington Post, lays out her thoughts in a simple way that anyone can understand. Tending to plants is about “caring for something and feeling satisfied to see it thrive.” One can apply the lessons laid bare in Wheelers illustration to multiple areas of life. She writes:
Every morning I have the same routine...There are a lot of plants in my house, hiding on every bookshelf and table...And they all require special care. If this sounds like a lot of work. It really isn’t. It’s almost like meditation. I’m grateful for the distraction their care provides, the silence before my brain whirs into gear, listing my obligations for the day. It’s very grounding, to care for something and watch it grow. It reminds me to take a moment for myself and acknowledge my own needs.”
Gender-Specific Addiction Recovery Center
Addiction recovery is a process; steps are taken to ensure continual progress each day. Hopefully, people in early recovery will recognize the value in holding off on taking on too many obligations. Slow and steady is a mantra worth repeating when feeling impatient. It always helps to remember that others have dealt with similar wants and desires. Whenever you are unsure, it’s best to defer to the guidance of individuals who have more time in the program.
At PACE Recovery Center, we specialize in helping young men establish and adopt routine, structure, purpose, and accountability. The environment we offer allows men to develop lasting connections with other men in recovery. What’s more, our gender-specific treatment center mitigates the risk of clients facing romantic distractions. We invite you to contact us today if you are an adult male who is ready to make the journey toward lasting recovery.