Abstaining from drugs and alcohol is a crucial facet of addiction recovery. In order to turn your life around you must exercise commitment and fortitude; sticking to a program is trying at times, and the slightest of obstacles can place your recovery in jeopardy. It is vital to remember—at any stage in a person’s quest for self-care—that the use of mind-altering substances is but a symptom of a more significant issue: an inability to take life as it comes, essentially. Take away the chemicals, and there still exist multiple aspects of one’s life that lead a person to begin looking for an antidote to the issue of Self.
More than half of people living with use disorders have a dual diagnosis, which means they are contending with conditions like depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety. When psychological comorbidity is a factor, individuals seeking recovery will find achieving their goals next to impossible unless the co-occurring illness is addressed along with the addiction. The good news is that people who seek treatment for alcohol and substance use have an opportunity to deal with every aspect of their mental health. At the time of discharge, clients are better equipped to manage their depression for instance, through utilizing tools to help cope with their symptoms.
People who do the work in treatment will find that they no longer need to rely on their old methods for coping with life. With continued professional therapy, participation in a program of recovery (i.e., 12 Steps or SMART Recovery®), and an influential group of peers to support you along the way, long-term recovery is made possible. Of course, people can have all the things mentioned above and still run into problems, particularly in the first months after treatment.
Helping Recovery Along
Those who take measures to go above and beyond, whenever possible, position themselves not only to make progress but to make it last. If you have completed an inpatient or outpatient treatment program, then you have an excellent foundation for building a new life. In treatment, you learned that you will always be a work in progress; and, what you do moving forward and every decision that you make must be in service to your mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. The days of selfish and self-centeredness and self-harm and self-defeating behaviors have to be behind you, if the seed of recovery is to grow.
In the early days, weeks, and months of working a program, one must face difficult feelings that arise head on without chemical assistance. In treatment, many safeguards keep dangerous types of thinking in check. Being surrounded by people working toward similar goals and a team of addiction professionals—many of whom are themselves in recovery—act as safeguards to acting on cravings and triggers. After treatment, one must be quick to replicate the layers of support provided while in rehab.
In whichever modality (program) you subscribe to, go to a meeting and put yourself out there as soon as you can after rehab. Introduce yourself to people before and after the meeting. Ask those who you meet if you can get to know them better over coffee, for example. Get phone numbers, use them, and develop relationships with like-minded people. Those same individuals may one day talk you out of a relapse, which is nothing short of saving your life.
Service Gets You Out of Your “Self”
Going to meetings is crucial and fostering relationships is critical, but being of service to others can take your program to a higher plane. Addicts and alcoholics are prone to get lost in their head. If people in recovery stay busy in productive ways, they are less likely to harp on the past or spend too much time dreaming of a future yet to arrive. Being present is a pillar of addiction recovery! With that in mind, helping others is an exceptional method for staying in the here-and-now.
People who work a program glean quickly that service is invaluable to recovery. Meetings offer service opportunities, of course, but you can be of help to your peers in other ways, too. Merely talking to someone at a meeting who has less time than you, could be a move that keeps that person from acting on thoughts of using. Assisting someone with their “service commitment” is another way to affect change in your peers’ lives. Providing unsolicited assistance is a useful way to comport yourself at meetings. What’s more, it feels wonderful to know that you have made other people’s day just a little bit brighter; a realization that makes you worry less about things in life that are out of your control.
You aid the greater community if time permits it, by looking for local volunteer opportunities. Houses of worship and community centers are ideal places to find ways you can help others. In the process of volunteering, you will have less time to worry about things that cannot change. Along the way, please remember to trust in what you were taught in treatment — trust in the process.
Addiction Treatment and Lasting Recovery
PACE Recovery Center, located in Huntington Beach, CA, is the ideal place to begin the life-saving journey of addiction recovery. We offer gender-specific treatment to men struggling with use disorders and co-occurring mental health conditions who would like to overcome the devastating effects of drugs and alcohol and lead a meaningful and productive life.