It doesn't matter whether you're managing recovery from drug or alcohol addiction, gambling addiction, food addiction or tobacco addiction, you have to have a plan and strategy in order to be successful and stay in control.
The emotional rollercoaster a person goes through when life becomes overwhelming or throws a difficult situation your way can be trying on a good day, but when a person is working hard managing their recovery from addiction, it can be very challenging to say the least.
When a person seeks help for any form of addiction the tools they need for a successful recovery are education, knowledge and skills to change thoughts and behaviors, and a positive healthy support system. But our recovery has to be maintained once we understand our addiction in order to:
- Stay sober from alcoholism or problem drinking
- Stay drug free from substance abuse and addiction
- Stay nicotine free from smoking addiction
- Still eat but avoid compulsive overeating or unhealthy eating habits due to food addiction
- Stay away from gambling of any king if you're a compulsive gambler
Successful Addiction Recovery
To me, the most important part of any successful recovery program when it comes to maintaining it for the long term is 'effort and positive support'. If we just rely on others to help us stay sober there's no way we can stay successful. You have to want to stay sober and put forth the effort to maintain sobriety no matter what the addiction is to.
We learn things through trial and error and there have been thousands of people who have successfully maintained their sobriety for years from alcohol, drugs, gambling, cigarettes, and food addiction. They may not have been totally ready when they started out but with a good support group, knowledge, an effective treatment program, and effort they not only found their road to recovery but worked hard to manage their sobriety on a daily basis.
We can't say it's 'impossible' or that 'we can't' if we don't put forth the effort and try. Having some sort of plan or strategy worked out ahead of time can not only help us stay in control and avoid relapse, but feels emotionally and spiritually good to know we are making an effort to maintain abstinence and reach our recovery goals.
Make a Plan to Help with Your Recovery
I understand not everyone can nor needs inpatient or outpatient substance abuse treatment. Some people use substances occasionally and are ready to get their life together on their own and that's 'awesome and commendable', but you still need a plan. At any given time something or someone can trigger those emotional feelings again and you can end up right back where you started, occasionally using or drinking again. Most of the time, you end up using or drinking heavier and more often than you did before.
Start out every morning and end each evening being proud of yourself that you worked hard that day and stayed in control and sober from alcohol, drugs, gambling, overeating, or cigarettes. Never forget how hard you worked and how far you have come.
Set your own goals for recovery and don't hesitate to feel good about yourself and your accomplishments for that day, week, month etc. Take small steps and don't focus on the long term, focus on the now and that day. Each day will get easier and turn into days, weeks, months, etc. but don't put too much pressure on your-self in the beginning worrying about a year from now.
Everyone is different as well as their lifestyles. We all have triggers which are situations, people, places, and emotional feelings that remind us or lead us to possibly relapse. Working out a strategy or plan ahead of time will help you to avoid situations that will challenge your recovery. I realize that we can't move to another state and there will be times when situations, places or people are going to be unavoidable. Find what works for you personally and keep a good support group around you. Having someone you can confide in and be honest with will help.
Having the Right Support during Recovery
Many people find that support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous are what they need during recovery to help them maintain abstinence, stay focused and take their recovery one day at a time. Even if you don't attend a support group, take your recovery one minute, one hour, and one day at a time.
Educate Yourself about Addiction
Educate yourself about addiction, relapse, and recovery if you haven't received help through a treatment center or support group. The more you understand what addiction is and what it takes to recover the easier it will be to maintain your abstinence, avoid relapse, and reach your recovery goals.
Not everyone likes to read but there are wonderful successful recovery books or personal recovery forums that can be found on the internet. These forums not only are beneficial to you but your concerns, knowledge, and successes can benefit someone else that's facing the same challenges.
Dealing with Fear and Anxiety During Recovery
If you find yourself experiencing depression or anxiety and you are recovering on your own, talk to your physician. Be totally honest with them about your addiction and recovery and they will be able to help you. Depression, fear, and anxiety can lead to relapse unless you're prepared ahead of time. We can't always be prepared ahead of time for everything though so during hard times, having that support group, person you can count on, or positive recovery book on hand is very important and will help.
Keeping a diary or a log of some sort will help too. Putting your successes and goals on paper will help during hard times for some people. As you begin to see what works for you and what doesn't having your thoughts to read during hard times may help you stay focused and get through that rough spot.
Rebuilding Your Life During Recovery
It doesn't matter in the end why we found ourselves addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling, tobacco, or food. What matters is what we do about it. Recovering from any form of addiction is personal and we can't forget that others have been affected by our illness as well. We all have to take responsibility for our actions and behaviors, seek help when we can't do it on our own, and appreciate the love and support we receive from our families and friends during our recovery.
There is no 'cure' for addiction we have to manage our sobriety on a daily basis without trading one addiction for another. We can't rely on medications to make us feel better all of the time either, we have to find ways to make us feel better by making good choices, avoiding triggers, and taking our recovery one day at a time. We have to put forth the effort to work on managing our recovery every day and feel good about our achievements.
But we can never forget those who have supported us and helped us get where we are whether it's our first month of recovery or the first year.