Preparing for the Early Stages of Sobriety: What you Should Know
Many people look at recovery as a long process with many ups and downs. While this is true, it’s important to look at the early recovery stages and what to expect. Starting off on a good foot can be very beneficial when it comes to long-term recovery. It is important to keep in mind that drug addiction will have its challenges and victories. But knowing how to deal with these moments is key.
The main thing is that you’ve taken the first steps towards a better life. This is a huge step forward and will enable you to live a better and happier life. We’ll be taking a look at some of the things to expect during early recovery and some tips you can implement to make the ride smoother. At Free by the Sea, our amazing staff will be by your side through the process to ensure you remain sober and have the tools you need to stay clean. You don’t have to go through this big first step alone.
What Defines Early Recovery?
Early recovery usually includes the first 90 or so days of sobriety and can last up to a year. It’s important to know that early recovery is a great opportunity for you to start afresh. However, this goal takes a lot of time and patience to achieve. It is important to keep in mind that the first few weeks may come fast and may have their ups and downs. It’s completely normal for someone to feel certain emotions and feelings out of nowhere. This takes time and patience to truly adjust to.
Each person’s recovery is different and may require more time in some areas than others. There is no path or ‘right’ way to deal with some of these urges. With that in mind, there are several things you can practice and do while recovering back at home. While it can be a rough road at times, practice these tips and techniques to make things easier.
Tips for Starting a New Life During Early Recovery
Take Breaks and Treat Yourself
It doesn’t take long to notice how much work it takes to stay sober and productive. It is a lot of work and it can be exhausting during the early stages of sobriety. When you can take some time for yourself, you’ve earned it. There are several different options you can do to enjoy yourself, your life, and the company of others as well. Everyone has their own hobbies or activities they like to do to pass the time.
Stay true to the activities you truly enjoy, if you like reading, don’t be afraid to get lost in a good book or a movie. Listen to music, draw, write, or do something entirely new! There are so many healthy, fun activities you can do to treat yourself. Early recovery doesn’t have to be a strict and boring set of tasks and responsibilities. These activities should let you unwind and relax, then after you can go back to focusing on yourself and staying clean.
Celebrate Your Milestones
During 12-step programs you and your peers are usually rewarded with milestones and anniversaries. These are badges of sobriety and are something to be proud of. They signify sobriety for the 24 hours, 30-day, 60-day, and 90-day periods. These are all achievements to be proud of and it’s important to really pat yourself on the back. It is no easy feat to reach sobriety and stay there, now it’s up to you to continue these wonderful accomplishments. We can all improve in many different ways, so never give up on your goals.
Choosing Your Friends and Social Groups
In many instances of drug addiction or abuse, you may have hung out with other people who struggled with addiction. But, when you hit the point of early recovery, it’s important to choose your friends wisely. Those around you can have a big influence on your actions and urges. Peer pressure and attitudes can move you in the wrong direction. Additionally, hanging out with people who are using drugs when you are sober is not appealing.
Sometimes this can be a little tricky when dealing with close friends or co-workers. There are ways you can be assertive about your sobriety without being rude. It’s okay to be upfront and explain your situation in sobriety, or you can always excuse yourself and simply say you have other things to attend to. The most important thing is to steer clear of triggers and people that may be a bad influence on your sobriety. You may potentially slip into relapse if you aren’t careful with who you hang out with and who you don’t.
Practice Healthy Living
Many people undermine the benefits of eating healthy and staying healthy. This can not only make you feel fresh but it can help with a variety of symptoms and feelings. While it may be a while since you’ve jogged or lifted weights, it’s recommended you get back into it. Practice these healthy tips to ensure a healthy life and a happier mind all around:
- Drink plenty of water
- Try to get a good night’s sleep
- Eat a healthy diet (vegetables, fruit, greens, etc.)
- Practice relaxation techniques (yoga, meditation)
- Go do some exercise (jogging, weight lifting, football, etc.)
All of these can be great stress relievers and can benefit you enormously during early recovery. Also, don’t forget to drink plenty of water to keep your body rejuvenated. A healthy mind and a healthy body can go a long way when dealing with cravings and sudden urges.
Set Goals and Stick to them
When you are venturing into the early stages of recovery it’s important to keep track of your goals. It is one thing setting a number of goals and another thing completing them. Start with simple and achievable goals at first – maybe making it to school or work on time. Then move up to bigger goals and strive towards the life you want. It is important to stick to these goals until the end, for yourself and your family.
Things to Avoid During Early Recovery
There is typically a ‘one-year’ rule when it comes to romance/sex, which is usually implemented by organizations like AA. This is a way to make sure your recovery progresses forward without unnecessary problems. This is not to say that dating is bad, but it can certainly interfere with your own personal journey towards recovery.
Coming out of recovery is a fragile situation and you may not be in the best mindset to be picking a partner. After all, you are starting a new life free of drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, or whatever you were using before. Dating and love can come later but during early recovery, it’s important to stay on your path free of distractions.
Don’t Ignore Your Responsibilities
Financial and social responsibilities may come out of nowhere if you forget about them. Forgetting to pay (or not being able to pay) for your rent can be a stressful situation. As you’ve learned from your treatment and recovery, leaving things unattended can come back to bite you. Creating a new life and environment includes staying on top of your bills and other responsibilities that may not have been a factor before. You don’t want to be worrying about financials and other stresses
Keep Control of Your Urges and Don’t Let them Upset You
There is a very high chance that after recovery is over and you’ve returned home, that you will feel some kind of urge to use. This is completely normal in early recovery from addiction. After all, it is how you deal with the cravings, not the cravings themselves.
The rule of thumb when it comes to avoiding cravings in 20 minutes. If you can keep yourself distracted or occupied (read, chores, work, exercise, calling a friend/sponsor, etc.) you’ll be fine. A simple counting exercise can also do the trick. While 20 minutes is common, this number may not match your craving time. If this is the case, just keep a close eye on the real-time and plan around that.
Recognizing Possible Signs of Relapse
The one thing you are trying to avoid during early recovery (and further on down the line) is relapse. It is important to know the possible signs associated with relapse so you can recognize and act against them. Practicing the steps outlined on this page can help you stay focused and clean. The common warning signs of relapse include:
- Excessive stress
- Risky behavioral patterns
- Skipping meetings or class
- Overconfidence or complacency
- Irritability or the feeling of being on edge
- Feelings of hopelessness or negative thoughts
- Lack of interest in family, friends, and hobbies
Get Help Today!
If you haven’t received treatment help for your addiction, Free by the Sea is ready to help. You don’t have to go through your journey alone, let us help you today. During your personalized treatment, you will learn life skills and coping techniques to help you during early recovery. But most importantly we will help you towards a life free of drugs. Contact us today to learn about our treatment options and if you have any questions.