Getting clean and sober is one of the most rewarding experiences life has to offer someone in addiction recovery. There are no words to describe the feeling of accomplishment that comes with getting thirty days clean, then sixty, ninety…..a year. Getting into addiction recovery is also one of the most frightening, challenging and confusing experiences life has to offer an addict or alcoholic. There are no words to describe the agony you feel getting to those thirty days clean…then sixty, ninety, a year. After living under the influence of drugs and alcohol for years, sobriety can be quite perplexing. And, to be quite frank, looking at life through sober eyes can be downright terrifying. (Don’t give up just yet. There’s good news ahead!)
Most addicts and alcoholics underestimate just how difficult it can be to live a recovering lifestyle. In the early days, staying clean one day at a time feels impossible. Every hour feels like a hundred years. In the beginning, the intense physical cravings and overwhelming psychological need to indulge in your drug of choice can be overwhelming. This is why so many people relapse in early sobriety.
Staying Clean Once You Have Climbed Those Early Mountains is a Challenge All Its Own
When the novelty of early sobriety wears off, it’s easy to convince yourself you can have “just one.” And, as you continue in recovery, working and living the principles found in the 12 steps provides its own unique set of complexities. In many ways, the longer you stay clean, the harder it can be to stay clean. The reason for this is that recovering addicts and alcoholics are notorious for complacency. Once you get your life back on track, it’s easy to start slacking on meetings, to stop calling your sponsor and cease working the steps.
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It’s Important to Have Realistic Expectations About Addiction Recovery.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that once you stop using drugs or abusing alcohol, life will immediately become smiles and sunshine. This is simply not the case.
It will take a lot of hard work and commitment to regain the trust of your loved ones. It may take months for you to even begin to think clearly and for your body to start healing. It might take years to rebuild the respect you’ve lost from your boss. And, rest assured, it will take much longer than that to come to a place where you break the many other bad habits and maladaptive behaviors you took up in your addiction. The point? You didn’t get to where you are today overnight and you will not receive the gifts and promises of addiction recovery overnight. Being aware of what lies ahead is important to your sobriety. It keeps you grounded in realistic expectations.
Now, for the good news.
When you’re in addiction recovery, free from your addiction to drugs or alcohol, life just gets better. When you stay stuck in your disease, life only gets worse. When you stay clean, you feel good about yourself. When you don’t, you don’t. When you work the steps, anything is possible. Miracles happen. Families reunite. You get a little money in your pocket, you gain some self-respect and you learn that you can have fun when you’re sober. When you work the 12 steps, and recommit to addiction recovery one day at a time, you will –as the program promises –become happy, joyous and free. These, too, are realistic addiction recovery expectations.