When you first enter into recovery from substance abuse or addictive behavior, everyone will tell you how you should do it. In the beginning, you should listen to them. Do anything other than what you were doing in active addiction. But, as time rolls on, you need to find your own path in recovery. Through self-evaluation, research, and trial, you can find a path that is suitable for you.
Early in your recovery, I believe that it is important to listen to the advice of others who have been in your shoes or who are professionals in the field. I started my most recent, and hopefully last, journey to recovery in a medical detox facility. I ended up being in there for eight days and it was during that time that I promised myself that I would do anything and everything that I could do to make this time work. That meant listening to everything that I was told to do and taking advantage of every resource provided to me. I literally made recovery my full-time job. I wasn’t working at the time, I was too sick, and I wasn’t tied down in a relationship. I had a place to stay at my parent’s house and took full advantage of the opportunity to just get better. I’m a pretty energetic and self-motivated person so I put that strength to work for me in fully immersing myself in my recovery. I knew a couple of things from my past attempts at recovery – that I could put together a few months of recovery and that I couldn’t do it by myself. What that meant to me at the time was that I needed to go to AA meetings, which I didn’t like but was willing to do. Through self-evaluation, research of my own, and trial, I eventually found what is now my own personal path.
The key here is that I did what I was told while doing my own evaluation and research at the same time. The treatment center that I detoxed at offered me an intensive outpatient program (IOP) and recommended that I see a therapist along with going to AA or Celebrate Recovery meetings. So, I took advantage of the IOP program and made an appointment with a therapist. I completed the seven-week, 21 session IOP in conjunction with going to AA meetings and therapy. During this time, I took it upon myself to begin researching addiction and the different treatment options available. I searched the internet and connected with online support groups. I found the book This Naked Mind by Annie Grace and read it in its entirety. I discovered a support group that I had never heard of before called SMART Recovery which used self-empowering tools based in REBT and CBT therapies. This jived with what I called “the intellectual approach” to recovery that is outlined in This Naked Mind and complemented what I was learning from my therapist. I soon realized that there wasn’t a single path to recovery and that I could do what worked best for me as long as I was willing to put in the work and was honest with myself.
Self-evaluation is the hard part of this process. In early recovery, most of us aren’t equipped to be completely honest with ourselves and to look at ourselves objectively. It took time in counseling to start trusting myself and having the confidence to say, “This isn’t going to work for me long-term.” I knew that being required to go to AA meetings on a regular basis to stay sober wasn’t going to work for me. The biggest motivator for my recovery was to address my anxiety and tremors that had become so severe that I could barely accomplish basic tasks like cooking or going out in public. I am very introverted and the thought of having to go to rigid meetings was a big obstacle for me. When I attended AA meetings at the beginning of my recovery, I would go with others I had met in detox and IOP and was mostly quiet. The ability to do SMART Recovery meetings online and the less rigid structure and feel of the meetings were a game-changer for me. When I read This Naked Mind, it spoke to me on every level. I knew there was something to this self-empowering approach to recovery that I could get behind and eventually, with the help of my therapist, had the courage to stand up and say I’m going to do my recovery differently. I know how I am and what is going to work best for me. It took a little time to get there and figure it all out, but by staying true to myself I gave myself a chance at a happy, healthy, long-term recovery.
Maybe AA is the path for you. Maybe you just want to add a little variety to your recovery. Whatever the case, find where you stand and what you know you will actually do. If you have a problem with a part of recovery, tell someone. If you know what you are doing isn’t going to work, find a different way. Just because it isn’t the popular method doesn’t mean that it won’t work for you. Take it upon yourself to discover yourself. Hit the internet and start finding out what other paths are available and what others are doing. Read books. Ask questions. Make connections. Be curious. Get excited about the opportunity to find yourself and improve yourself that recovery provides. If it is boring or counter-intuitive to you, it probably won’t work long-term. Get your legs under yourself a bit and then have the courage to do what is best for you. You will find that there are tons of ways to practice recovery. There are a lot of programs and paths out there. Google things, ask questions in online groups, go to the bookstore. Gain the knowledge and find your own beliefs. It’s 2019, we have minds of our own and a plethora of ways to find information and do research. Take advantage of it.
Finally, try different things. Go to a SMART Recovery meeting or a Refuge Recovery meeting. Try therapists and see if you click with one. If your treatment center offers programs, try them. Keep trying new things to find what works for you and what doesn’t. Eliminate excuses. Keep a hold on the things that do work and let go of the rest. It is your recovery and your life, you are entitled to think for yourself and be a bit selfish. I promote mostly non-12-step approaches, but I did try them. I have attended AA, NA, and 90 meetings in 90 days. I have read a lot of the Big Book. I have lived in a halfway house. I have had a sponsor. Those things weren’t comfortable for me so I kept on searching and trying other things. The trial part of this process was the fun part for me. I get excited about finding myself and improving myself. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t always feel motivated to act but I do force myself to try. If you take nothing else away from my message, just take the excitement of the journey. Do you want a better life? Do you want to achieve your goals and dreams? Recovery enables you to accomplish all of that. Find what gets you excited and pursue that relentlessly. It all starts with getting yourself healthy and living a better life conducive to your goals. Recovery is a vital part of achieving what you want to do. If you can’t get excited about recovery on its own, then view it as a part of the larger goal you want to achieve. Without recovery from your substance abuse or addictive behavior, do you have a shot at achieving that dream? Incorporate your recovery into your excitement for achieving something bigger.
Have you found your own path to recovery? What has worked for you and what hasn’t in your recovery? What methods do you use? Comment below or send me a message via social media to let me know how you are owning sobriety. And as always, please like, comment, and share if you find this post useful or relevant to you. I always appreciate your support!