What the Early Stage of Recovery Looks Like

Recovery is such a sweet word for those who have been battling addiction for a long time. Each person who embarks on a journey to lifelong sobriety will have a different experience. This article will provide you with a good overview of what you can expect in the early stage of recovery, and also offer some tips on how you can maintain sobriety.

What You Should Do During This Stage

Being in recovery is an opportunity for you to start anew. Right now you are sober and everything seems new to you again for the first time in a long time. You may feel a lot of emotions as they come and go without warning, but this is also a good time to gauge exactly what you are feeling and how you can express this. It may be a scary thing to deal with because it seems unfamiliar, but don’t hurry yourself. Take time to fully experience every emotion you feel, processing each moment thoughtfully. Remember that there is no easy road to recovery, but here are some of the best things that you can do to make sure you stay on the right path and keep it that way, no matter how long it takes. 

Always make time for play 

Recovering from an addiction is a LOT of work. But like anything else in your life, all work and no play makes you dull. So make sure to always take time to enjoy the little things. Set aside time to engage in activities that will make you healthy physically and mentally. Join a sports club where you can enjoy playing the sport you like. Being at play is not limited to playing sports, but really that you feel makes your time worthwhile. If you love music, practice an instrument, or if you love dancing, join a dance club. You can go on a road trip, hike, go camping, or simply just take a break and relax. Whatever makes YOU happy!

Embrace your milestones

Celebrating milestones is important during your recovery. It is crucial to acknowledge your hard work in the last 30, 60, 90, etc days of staying clean. In a lot of programs, once you reach a one year milestone, you will be given a bronze coin to commemorate a year of sobriety. Recognizing how far you’ve come will motivate you to keep going and not look back.

Do not let your urges upset you 

Cravings can surface anytime, and they’re especially common during your first year of recovery and can occur even after years of being sober. But try your best not to get overwhelmed or feel guilty about your cravings, as they are a perfectly normal and natural part of the recovery process. A good distraction can help take your mind off of these cravings. You can do whatever you enjoy! Play a game, do chores, exercise, read, watch a movie — in short, anything but giving in to your cravings. Monitor your cravings and take note of how long they last. This can help you acknowledge that they are temporary, and will go away even if you do not use the substance your body craves. Formulate a plan for how to cope with these episodes so that you are prepared to act if the feeling becomes unbearable. If you feel like you cannot handle it, make sure to address the issue to your sponsor or someone you trust immediately. This way they can come up with ways to help you.

Be aware of the people you become friends with

As someone who is in an early stage of recovery, choosing the people you want to hang out with is very important. By now you must be aware that you should stay away from people who made you use illicit substances in the first place so make sure that you avoid them at all cost. If you keep being friends with those who do drugs and drink then it is going to jeopardize your plans of staying sober. Of course this is not going to be easy especially if you have known these people all your life or that some of them are your best friends. But you have to choose what is better for yourself. It is always a good thing to not take any chances. 

Prepare yourself for post-withdrawal syndrome

This phase can last for a couple of months to a year or so. What happens is once you stop using drugs and alcohol, you will experience a variety of symptoms that could disrupt your sleep. You may also experience irritability, anxiety and even depression. Over time, these symptoms will disappear but it is important to talk to a health care provider about this. They will also help determine if you need to take medications or have therapy sessions with cognitive-behavioral techniques.

Work on making amends

In this stage of your life, making up with those you have wronged is part of your recovery. If you attend a 12-step program or meeting, then you know that this is a very important part. Making amends involves reaching out to those who were directly or indirectly hurt by your addiction and offering an apology for any pain you may have caused them. You don’t have to do it right away, you can plan and take it one step at a time. Keep in mind however, that it is possible that not everyone will want to make amends with you. Don’t take this personally. 

Identify the signs of relapse 

Sometimes, just when you think that you are doing okay, you may slowly you find yourself falling back into your old habits. You must learn to recognize any shifts in your behavior before you fall into relapse. Most common signs of relapse could be the following:

  • Irritability or a short temper
  • A sense of hopelessness
  • Negative thoughts
  • You worry a lot and are under stress most of the time
  • Skipping meetings or avoiding talking to your sponsor
  • Overconfidence
  • Avoiding family members and friends
  • Neglecting self-care
  • Engaging in risky situations

Set goals and accomplish them

During this time, you should have plans and goals to work towards. If you have problems with your finances, it’s time to set them straight. If you can, find a job and work on saving up to pay off your debts. Part of your recovery is to be able stay on top of your finances and working out a repayment schedule for all your debts can help you get your life back together again. 

Think of your goals too. While this is an ongoing process, you must continue to strive for something that can set you on a clear path. Don’t hurry the process, instead take your time and enjoy the ride. Sobriety is not going to happen overnight, but it can be done if you set your mind to it.