What Does Recovery Look Like?
In the world of substance abuse rehabilitation, the word recovery is not as simply defined as a ‘cure’. Recovery is a lifelong journey toward wellness, toward success, toward health and happiness. For us, recovery means positivity and growth and accepting and adapting to this new life that we have, thankfully, chosen. So when we ask the question of what recovery looks like, successful recovery looks like an ongoing path toward a better life in sobriety.
Addiction Recovery is Non-linear
After surgery, you and your doctor come up with a very specific recovery plan. Don’t lift too much, only eat these foods, take this antibiotic to prevent infection, keep the surgical site clean. The intentionality of this is to provide a clean path to ensuring that your surgery heals properly without complication and then you can get back to your life. This works well, and usually as long as you follow the doctor’s instructions, you will get back to business.
Unfortunately, addiction or substance abuse is not this clear cut and dry. After you’ve finished treatment or medical detox at the best rehab facility of your choosing, getting back to normalcy is not so simple. While your case manager will help to prepare you with aftercare plans and you will be highly encouraged to continue with groups and therapy, there is no ‘step-by-step’ set of rules. Everyone’s recovery is very different and therefore everyone’s path is unique. Someone recovering from a broken arm doesn’t crave to break their arm again. They also do not deal with the social stigmas as someone suffering from alcoholism, for example. Successful recovery looks like a winding road.
Successful Recovery Must be Desired
Usually, unless it is elective, we don’t want surgery. We shouldn’t have any desire to break an arm or a leg. Accidents happen, and in these cases, recovery is a mandatory process that is just part of the situation. For those of us struggling with heroin, cocaine or prescription drugs, it is the exact opposite. It needs to be a thought-out, firm choice to get sober. This is your life and while your family and loved ones will coerce you get help if they are involved, you have to be the one to decide to make a life change. You also have to understand that you are committing to changing most if not all areas of your life, and that this is your new life.
While that may sound somewhat dramatic, you should celebrate this decision. This is the decision that has taken you off of the path of danger, solitude, and maybe even death and onto a path where you can enjoy the beauty of life once more. Successful recovery looks like a celebration of your own life.
Stigmas Continue to Hurt
One of the biggest hurdles to overcome with addiction treatment is the stigma associated with drug or alcohol abuse. If a cancer survivor gets sick again, or if their cancer returns, it is a dreadful circumstance. It is painful, it is tragic and it is met with aggressive treatment and overwhelming love and support. This is the typical norm. This is, sadly, not how many people view relapse into addiction. Some dissenters will consider it to be a weakness, or say that the user was never clean to begin with. It is thought to be a lack of self control.
Men and women who are going through early recovery often feel the need to hide the information from potential employers or new friends and social circles. Unfortunately, it is too commonly not viewed as a disease or mental illness and instead as a crime or destructive behavior. While it is not fair, or acceptable to be treated with these stigmas, it is a part of what makes recovery so hard and something that must be prepared for. As you fight to not only stay sober, but to keep yourself moving through the hard times, you may realize that successful recovery looks like an ongoing battle.
Tips for The Best Recovery
So how can you create a life where sobriety is your primary goal? Once you have returned to your home or job, reunited with your family, how can you keep strong in the face of a winding road through an ongoing battle? There are some things you can do, as long as you stay strong and committed!
Avoid Toxic Triggers
When you are in recovery, especially early on, some things may trigger the memories of your addiction and spiral you into relapse. It is important to avoid these triggers so you can stay on the straight and narrow. This may mean different things for different people. Generally speaking, here are some things you should keep in mind:
- Avoid people you used with. – It’s not easy to cut people out of your life, but if your friendship was based around passing bongs or needles, you need to create barriers. This is not the influence you need in your life.
- Stay away from spots you once obtained drugs. – Same as above, avoid the places where you used to get your supply. You don’t want to run into people or situations that will bring back cravings.
- Stay POSITIVE – Easier said than done, however, negativity will bring more pain into your life. Stay positive, especially about your recovery and your new life.
Successful recovery looks like a positive, healthy life.
Develop and Nurture a Support System.
Solitude and isolation is a known trigger for destructive behaviors, such as drugs and alcohol. Once you have finished treatment, rebuilding any broken relationships or building new bridges will be very pivotal to your success. Make a circle of recovery. This could be people from your group therapies or support groups, your parents, children, partner or family or close friends who are supportive. The point is, going through recovery alone is ill advised.
Asking for help is difficult, and uncomfortable at times. This is what makes support groups so powerful. However, if you can also include your loved ones in this circle of trust, you will be all the better for it. With anyone in your chosen circle, it is very important that you always remain honest and open. You need them to know where you are at and when you need help. If you all work together, you will find your recovery easier and your transition smoother.
Successful recovery looks like a loving family.
Develop Healthy Hobbies
Now is a great opportunity to pick up cooking, or painting or yoga! With a clear mind, and more time to focus on the right things, there is no better way to fill your life with new endeavors. Positive expression, such as through art or outdoor exploration are amazing ways to broaden your life while also learning more about yourself. You may not know that you are a talented writer or musician yet, because you haven’t tried, Now that you are free from the bondage of drugs or alcohol, you are ready to find what you were actually designed to do. When you pour your focus into this new craft, beautiful things will emerge.
Successful recovery looks like freedom.
What Sobriety Feels Like
Sobriety should feel good. Much better than withdrawal, much better than living on the street or being malnourished. There is no crash when you are sober. Just a working machine of a body that is ready to tackle on whatever you put in front of it. You should feel proud of the decision that you’ve made, as well as amazed at the battle you are winning. Keep that last word in mind, you haven’t won yet – because this is an ongoing battle.
Successful recovery looks like many things. It isn’t easy, and sometimes it is down right tough. But above all else, successful recovery is beautiful.
If you or a loved one is seeking to be free of drugs or alcohol, we are here to help. If you need assistance, Royal Life Centers admissions staff is available 24/7 to answer your questions and address your concerns about drug addiction treatment. We can be reached at (877)-RECOVERY or 877-732-6837. Because We Care.