Experts in Addiction Treatments

Sober Intervention

Early Recovery Suggestions

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I’ve been speaking to a good number of clients recently who’ve been struggling with some of the aspects of their own expectations in early recovery, so I’ve compiled this list of goals and reminders for people with addictive disease and associated disorders, who may have recently graduated from rehab and are in early recovery.

Accept that you have addictive illness, that you’re an addict (or an alcoholic if you prefer) and that you have a disease that will kill you if left untreated.
Practice honesty in all your affairs – work / business, social, romantic, familial, recovery, etc. With time this will lead to stronger emotional recovery.
Learn to have a plan b whenever going out socialising around booze or drugs, and absolutely avoid high-risk situations. Sometimes, have a plan c too.
Learn to ask for help. It’s easy – practice at the supermarket by asking for where a particular grocery is. Ask people for their suggestions (and then follow them). Becoming open to asking for help is so important, and will yield great results should you ever be in any real struggle.
There are many routes to recovery and you may hear conflicting suggestions. Take the path that the majority have expressed works rather than the minority however appealing their suggestion may be.
Don’t try to recover alone. Join the 12 Step Fellowship groups. They help – I promise. Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, Over-Eaters Anonymous, Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous are all strong examples of 12 Step Fellowships that have been helping millions of people around the world to stop and stay stopped. There are many other smaller and more niched Fellowships too, especially in North America.
Become actively involved in at least one of the 12 step Fellowship meetings each week. This is called a “Home Group”. Most people will try to attend one meeting every day for the first 3 months of continuous recovery. But adopt one meeting that you choose to own as your “Home Group” and make yourself a place there. Take a service commitment such as greeting people when they arrive, or making the Teas and Coffee, or helping lay out the room. This commitment will give you a solid reason to be there each week and to maintain your recovery.
Practice calling your recovery friends on a daily basis. Enquire how they are rather than tell them about yourself. However know that if you call them whenever you have drinking or using thoughts that they will be there to help you through these obsessive moments.
Get a 12 Step sponsor (mentor) and actively engage in the therapeutic 12 Step Recovery Programme. This is the most important part about the 12 Step experience. It’s more important than attending meetings. Being proactive in your own personal 12 Step programme will set you free from your addiction.
Don’t socialise with drinking or drugging friends – at least not for the first 6 months or until you feel strong enough. Why risk it?
Always put your recovery first. All those excuses as to why you can’t complete a recovery orientated task (step work, meetings, etc) will be another notch towards a relapse unless you’re diligent.
Celebrate your wins, however small or insignificant. Life feels better whilst we’re celebrating. Remember that Recovery, just like life, is about progress not perfection.
Practice saying “No”. It’s OK to not do everything and to not please everyone else who may want your time, your attention, your money, your work. It’s OK to say “No”.
Take care of your physical health – diet and exercise is an important part of recovery, especially at the beginning while our body recovers from the extended period of poisoning you’ve given it.
Develop healthy eating and sleeping patterns. Get up in the morning and sleep at night. Adopt a more normal routine.
Learn how to relax, unwind and let go of stress, especially in the evenings. Maybe join a gym or some other (non drinking) clubs or activities that you can attend with other people you know aren’t looking to get drunk or high.
Discover how to have fun with your friends and family drug free and sober. It’s really achievable once you start looking for things that get you excited. Not sure where to begin? Start with Music or Comedy.
Make new recovery friends and pro-actively introduce them into your life.
Deal with obsessional thoughts by remembering what it was like at the end of your drinking and using and not focussing on what it was like at the beginning. That bridge is burnt and you’ll never be able to safely consume your substances again without getting into some kind of trouble.
Find ways to distract yourself when you have cravings. I call this “Replacement Therapy”. Discover new music or listen to comedy. Play sports or watch films.
Physical activity helps in so many aspects of your recovery, so get moving. Go for walks, join a gym or a team. Motion helps change your emotions in a positive way.
Begin writing a journal and record your feelings, especially if they’re positive ones. Consider writing a daily gratitude list of your present life in recovery. This will help anchor in more permanent positive emotions.
Dispose of all paraphernalia related to your addiction.
Develop tolerance, forgiveness and compassion for others and for yourself.
Begin to study Mindfulness and wellness. Things like Yoga and Meditation are great tools for recovery.
Begin to help others less fortunate than yourself and adopt an attitude of paying it forwards rather than just paying it back. This means that you go and help the next person rather than just the person who helped you.
Consider yourself as someone in recovery. Make this a fact in your thinking. Be the version of you that doesn’t engage in their addiction. Be the version of you that’s in Recovery and own it.

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