You’re attending all the 12-step meetings and you’re going to your support groups.
You’re telling others that you’re in recovery and you’re saying no to old friends who are still inviting you to the bar. You seem to be making all the right choices. But everything on the inside feels the same. The pain, the struggle, the negativity are all still following you around. And because of this it may not feel like you’re in recovery at all.
The first year of recovery isn’t easy.
Although you might have had the thought that working towards sobriety was going to be the answer, that you would be happier, more satisfied with your life, it only feels harder. It feels like you’ve been struggling this last year. And you’re right. The first year of recovery is one of the hardest years to live through. And there are many reasons for this.
First, your body may be recuperating if you’re now sober or moving towards sobriety. Second, your mind may be having to adjust to using new coping tools, such as changing your thoughts to avoid giving in to a craving. And third, your emotions may be all over the place because you no longer have the coping tools (albeit unhealthy) to manage those uncomfortable and overwhelming feelings. Fourth, you might have had to let go of some friendships and even relationships with family in order to focus on sobriety. All of these can make the first year incredibly challenging.
However, there are many reasons that keep a person on track in their recovery, despite the challenges. Having a vision for what you’re like could be like keeps many people inspired throughout the first year even though it can be hard. Having others who believe in you can also be supportive and encouraging. And this doesn’t necessarily have to be people you have close relationships with. It could be your case manager, your drug counselor, or your therapist. It might be someone who is working on their sobriety too.
Another big support for many people in recovery is purpose. One woman might be in recovery so that she can get her children back. Another recovering addict might be focused on restoring his career. Someone else might be doing it so that he can repair his finances. And yet another person might be in recovery “to feel normal again”. Purpose can drive a person’s life for many years, and it can drive your decisions in recovery until you’ve reached the vision you’re after.
If you’re struggling in the first year of recovery and it feels like too much, then it might be a good idea to get extra support. Ask yourself the following questions to determine whether you have enough help to support you:
- Do I have a friend that I can call when I need to talk?
- Do I have a therapist, drug counselor, or another mental health provider to talk to when my emotions or my thinking feel too overwhelming?
- Do I have a handy list of hotline numbers to refer to when the going gets rough?
- Is there a family member that believes in me and that will be there to support me?
- Am I attending 12-step meetings and support groups on a regular basis?
The first year of recovery might not feel like recovery at all! But with the right support, healthy choices, perseverance, and a vision for the future, you’ll begin to notice a positive difference in your life.
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Vantage Point Recovery is a lifestyle management and recovery center in Thousand Oaks. We share mental health tips and other helpful information on the Vantage Point Recovery Blog. If you need help or support mental health awareness, please connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.