The first few days, weeks, and months after getting sober can be the most difficult part of your life. It’s not difficult to say no to your drug of choice for a few hours or days at a time but real recovery takes work and dedication, especially early on. The best way to achieve success in early recovery is by taking action. Let’s learn what we mean by taking action and what you can do in early recovery to increase your chances for both sobriety and happiness.
The Best Treatment
Taking action in early recovery begins with the best possible treatment program for you. For most, inpatient treatment provides the most thorough and successful option. Inpatient treatment provides a safe detox, counseling, education, and relapse prevention in a distraction-free environment. If you don’t have the time or resources for inpatient treatment, intensive outpatient treatment is the next best thing. Like anything else the strongest foundation allows you to learn more and build faster.
One of the top actions you can take after treatment is enrolling and attending an aftercare program. Aftercare programs are regular meetings for those in early recovery to check-in, meet with their sobriety peers, and continue to receive help and support. Most treatment centers offer aftercare and intensive outpatient programs so ask about them and enroll to continue building your foundation for lifelong recovery.
12-step meetings and other types of group recovery have been popular and successful for nearly a hundred years and continue to provide a safe, productive environment where you can grow in your recovery. SMART, AA, NA, and others provide thousands of daily meetings in all parts of the country so it shouldn’t be difficult for you to find local help. Meetings provide education, help answer questions, and gives you guidance which is always helpful in early recovery. Addiction specialists recommend early recoverees attend 90 meetings in their first 90 days of sobriety for accountability and growth.
Set Up Accountability
Accountability is important in early recovery. Without accountability, you only have yourself to rely on or only yourself to answer to – a recipe for disaster early on. Accountability can include regularly attending 12-step meetings, talking to your 12-step sponsor, participating in aftercare meetups, and more. It’s harder to disappoint others or yourself when you make yourself accountable.
Without boundaries, you’ll go right back to your drug of choice. In early recovery, you should set boundaries on places you shouldn’t be at, people you shouldn’t talk to, or negative impulses you shouldn’t act on. Talk to a sponsor or addiction counselor to explore why boundaries are important and how to set them.
Continued Relapse Prevention
Everyone in recovery should participate in relapse control and prevention. If you went through a treatment center, you’ll already be armed with a relapse prevention plan but those who quit at home will need to discuss relapse prevention with a sponsor or addiction counselor. Relapse prevention plans include ways to let off steam, how to avoid triggers and compulsions, how to set boundaries, and how to get the most out of your new life.
Taking Action on Emotional Sobriety
Taking action is more than abstaining from drugs or alcohol, it’s also about growing as a person. Emotional sobriety is confronting and managing negative thoughts and emotions and learning how to better deal with life’s problems instead of running away from them with drugs or alcohol. Emotional sobriety isn’t about feeling warm and fuzzy all the time but having the tools to cope with life while still feeling complete. There are several ways to tackle emotional sobriety, but gratitude and mindfulness are effective.
It doesn’t seem like making a daily list of things you’re thankful for will help you in early recovery, but never underestimate the power of gratitude. Gratitude helps you learn to appreciate all parts of the world around and to be thankful for daily gifts, no matter how small. The more grateful you are, the easier life is. Try making gratitude lists, keep a journal, or aim to say please and thank you and genuinely mean it. Before long you’ll trick your brain into being more grateful and that’s never a bad thing.
Meditation and Mindfulness
Daily meditation and practicing mindfulness should be a daily routine throughout your life but is most important in early recovery. Early recovery can leave you feeling clouded with dark thoughts, unappreciative, and angry, but mindfulness and meditation can help reverse those negative mindsets. Meditation can help slow your mind down, clear it of negative energy, and help you tap into new sides of relaxation you never knew were possible. Mindfulness helps you better appreciate the world around you for a calmer life.
Taking Action Against Idle Time
Idle time is one of early recovery’s greatest enemies. Idle time and hands allow your mind to wander to dark and unhealthy places and will make early recovery difficult. Fill your idle time as much as possible with social gatherings, hobbies, household projects – anything! The more occupied your hands and mind are, the less time you have to think about going back.
Take Action on Taking Action
Sitting around feeling sorry for yourself is no way to grow in early recovery. If you want the most out of your life and in sobriety – you need to take action. Look for the best treatment, set up accountability, and give gratitude a chance among other tasks. The more action you take, the much better your chances are for both long-term both sobriety and happiness.