Progress in Overcoming Addiction—It’s a Process
Progress in overcoming addiction is often hard to see. For you, that is. Typically, others can see the progress we are making much more clearly. That’s because they’re not inside your nervous system trying to navigate all the changes you’re going through. You can look like the picture of health on the outside, and feel yourself to be a total mess internally. When this happens, you might think these people aren’t telling me the truth! Or, they’re just saying that to make me feel better!
Progress in Overcoming Addiction is Always Cumulative
As we turn the tide on substance use through withdrawal and other efforts, we typically are just steadily walking our path. We accumulate sober days and stick to a plan. There are days when the plan feels great, and then, there are days when it seems pointless. Remember that feelings are not facts! Even when you feel hopelessness and stuck, it doesn’t mean you are. It just means you are having those feelings. Sticking to your plan is your roadmap out of those darker moments. Like being lost when traveling, sometimes you just have to pull over and look at the map. Your recovery plan is your map when it comes to sobriety.
That’s why it’s smart to write down even the smallest of details in your plan of action to overcome addiction. Even the things you think you’ll remember, write them down. And keep the plan handy, even in a couple of places. Write it up on the computer, for example, save it and print out a copy. Carry it with you, or make sure you can access the phone or a work computer. Never have it too far away. When you need to pull over and look at your map, you’ll be glad you had that easy access.
Progress in Overcoming Addiction Works Best with a Detailed Plan
A detailed and written plan for recovery is a valuable tool. Include all the details you can think of. And, it’s helpful to think of the plan as for someone else. If someone else picked it up to read, would it be clear? This is helpful because sometimes you aren’t really yourself, especially in early recovery. Things trip us up and we can be ‘beside ourselves’, not really clear-minded for a few moments, even longer. If your plan is clear and detailed, you can read it and it will bring you back from whatever tripped you up.
Here are some things to include in your written plan of action:
Names and contact information of your primary support people. Include the professionals that work with you and people from your private life. Just in case you lose your phone, or it needs charging, have their numbers retrievable somewhere else. And, even though it may sound silly, writing down the names of your supports can come in handy. Especially if you’ve lost your composure, looking at a list brings a powerful reminder that you are not alone in this!
Emergency tips. A sobriety emergency might not be a 911 emergency for sure, but when it comes to taking a drink or using a drug or not, that constitutes an emergency for you! Write down a list of steps to take if you are ever at that point, and number them. For example, 1. Leave the situation you are in right now. 2. Call ___ as soon as you are in a safer place. 3. If ___ isn’t available, work your way down this list: (include a list of contacts and their numbers). 4. Tend to your immediate needs as soon as possible and check yourself with HALT. Ask am I H(ungry), A(ngry), L(onely) or T(ired)? And then take care of any of those as your next order of business. 5. Go to a 12 Step meeting as soon as possible if you are drawn to them, and carry a meeting schedule with you at all times. 5. Do stress management strategies and have at least 3 listed for your review that can be done soon wherever you are. 6. Journal as soon as you can, or tell the story in detail somehow. 6. Meet with your counselor and 12 Step sponsor as soon as possible.
Daily maintenance. When things are running rather routinely, make sure you know what is working for you. Write down the details of a good day as if you’re writing out a ‘recipe’ for someone. Include seemingly small details like what a good breakfast is for you, what kind of reaching out you need to do for human contact on a routine day, what type of relaxation and for how long… Also, remember to review and work on your recovery plan when things are going well. You want to occasionally put some calm energy into your use of it, and reviewing it when you’re doing well will also help you remember how valuable it has been to you. There can be a great deal of satisfaction in mentally checking off the good work you’ve been doing. Allow yourself that luxury and enjoy it.
Good self-care. Make a list of options for self-care that takes you over the top of daily needs to occasional treats and pampering. We all need things to refresh and rejuvenate us from time to time. Simply take the time to write out a list of this ‘extras’ that you enjoy and be specific—from a hair appointment to massage or a spiritual retreat. Include lots of options—from quickly available and free or affordable, to things that require planning and an extra investment of time and/or money.
Spirit, inspiration, and encouragement. Gather inspirational literature like meditation or prayer books that you can use as concise pick me up’s, pep talks
and guidance easily. Always have something that needs more study or time in the works like a book or videos that are inspirational. Incorporate music that helps you relax into your daily life. Participate in a faith community regularly if you are drawn to that… and put inspirational objects in your environment like a prayer or meditation altar, images, statues, posters… Also, tend to broader spiritual needs that help you feel a sense of connectedness and purpose in your dealings with others. Find productive ways to contribute to the community or others.
Purposeful activity. Everyone has a deep need to feel there is meaning in life overall and in daily activity, too. Your sense of purpose can be very satisfying even in what seem to be small endeavors like artist interests or garden. However, having ongoing projects that take time and attention is helpful to us, as are larger projects such as to our work or study. Make sure that every day you have something that pulls you out of bed with expectation, and something that’s pulls you out of the house. Start there and add purposeful activity as you go, even including purposeful relaxation, rejuvenation, and fun. A well-rounded life is the most beneficial and the easiest to maintain.
Milestones of Progress in Overcoming Addiction
As you maintain your action plan in your awareness and daily routine, you will be steadily moving toward your changed life. However, occasionally you will be able to see the rewards of your recovery journey, and all of us have opportunities to consciously pass through milestones. Take time to acknowledge them and savor them. They will enrich your journey, and bolster you in times when you aren’t so aware and optimistic.
Some common recovery milestones are:
The decision to enter treatment. Your decision can feel like a prolonged period of pain. However, in the end, it has been the labor pains of a new life. Many will fluctuate in their decision quite a bit before going to treatment, but this process helps you best prepare. Celebrate your decision to enter rehab. It means you have decided to take charge of the things that are in your control.
Counseling related insights. As you continue in counseling, you will find that insight comes in surprising ways and times, but they always bring a burst of new energy you can use to gain momentum and perspective. Accept these insights as gifts to you, and keys to further recovery. Even though some of our insights are momentarily painful, they bring us wisdom and the opportunity to finally complete our experiences of the more entrenched and painful patterns in our lives.
Completing Rehab. Completing a treatment program is indeed a major milestone in any person’s life who is overcoming an addiction. Take time to reflect on what you learned, and how different you were when you first went to treatment. This helps reinforce the power of your endeavors, and it allows us to clearly turn the page into the next new chapter. We may not know what will come next, but we will be making steady progress and sustaining gains.
Building and Rebuilding Relationships. Relationships are essential to recovery. They satisfy our natural needs to feel connected and supported. They also give us the opportunity to contribute to the lives of others in meaningful ways. Also, relationships give us the ongoing chance to receive more objective feedback than we can access on our own. We certainly need to ‘prune’ our relationships in recovery, breaking ties with people who can expose us to our substance of addiction. We also need, however, to build new relationships in which others are supportive of our recovery efforts, and meet our needs for support, guidance, and companionship.
If you are ready to overcome an addiction, or you have a loved who is that you are helping, contact us at Elite Rehab Placement. We offer free consultations designed to find the appropriate treatment program for your specific needs. Recovery is possible and it can be overcome.