Many people who get sober need help to do so; no one should have to do it alone. I am grateful treatment programs exist, because without them there are many people who would not be alive, thriving in recovery. However, there is a common misconception that recovery is a one-and-done 30-day treatment program that you never have to think about again after you’ve completed it. That’s just not the case. Recovery is a lifelong process that never stops. I don’t say this to scare you, I say this to make sure you know you’ve got to put the work in.
1. Treatment shows you the tools you need to live your best life.
Treatment is valuable, no matter how long you attend. It gives you the support, tools, medications, and therapies that you need in order to rid your body of harmful substances and start your sobriety. However, it doesn’t end when you leave. 30 days, or even 90 days, is not enough time to teach you all you need to know about recovery and life. It will take the rest of your life to learn all you need to know about self-love, growth, and recovery.
2. Your recovery should be at the top of your list every day.
Recovery is not something you achieve and then never have to think about again. It’s an ongoing process that changes over time. Recovery must be on the top of your to-do list every day. That means you need to schedule time out of your day to take care of your recovery, whether it’s going to meetings, following a program, reading recovery literature, meditation, prayer, or all of those things. It’s not something you can forget about or put on a back burner.
3. Recovery is a choice.
Not only should recovery be at the top of your list every day, recovery is a choice you must make. It’s not a choice you make once, when you’re in treatment. Recovery is a continuous choice that you must make every day, even on the hard days when you are tested. Unfortunately, addiction is not something that is just cured after treatment. It’s a disease that could come back to haunt you at any time. The threat of alcohol and drug use will always be out there. It’s up to you to use your new coping skills and your recovery program to stay strong in your sobriety.
4. Life will test you.
Life gets better we when get sober, but hard things still happen. Loved ones will die. Tragedies will strike. We lose jobs. Life isn’t always fair, and even when we are working on ourselves and doing the next right thing, we may still feel sad, mad, guilty, and hurt. You will have to overcome difficult circumstances and obstacles in sobriety. When drinking and using is a coping mechanism you’ve used for years, those difficult situations can put your recovery at risk. That’s why recovery is a process you’ll have to keep in check. When those hard moments arise, you can use your new coping mechanisms and life skills learned in recovery to help you through those tough times.
5. Other behavioral patterns will need to be addressed.
This may be surprising to some, but sobriety isn’t just about quitting drugs and alcohol. That is only the first and most important piece of the puzzle. After you learn how to live without those harmful substances, you’ll have to look at and acknowledge old behavioral patterns that no longer serve you in recovery. You’ll have to work through toxic friendships, understand your romantic relationship patterns, and work on other emotional sobriety areas like gossiping, honesty, and healthy ways to express yourself. This type of work can seem daunting and may take years to address. Recovery can be the basis for these changes because it’s all about finding yourself, learning a new way of life, and being the best version of yourself you can be.
Recovery isn’t something you set your sights on, achieve, and forget about. It’s a lifelong process that is difficult, but rewarding. Recovery requires patience, diligence, hard work, and humility. You will always be a student of the universe and a student in recovery. There will come a time when you spread your knowledge to others, but you will always be improving and progressing in recovery.
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