If you’ve identified that you have a problem with drug or alcohol abuse, made a decision to do something about it, and made a solid, specific plan of recovery, congratulations - you’ve put yourself on the path.
Honestly, both to others and to yourself, is crucial at this moment. It’s important to be honest about the process as well, which means that you know this: putting yourself on the path to recovery, though brave and commendable, does not mean your work is over. It’s called a path to recovery for a reason - you must walk down it and avoid the pitfalls that arise along the way.
Now that you’re on the path, here are some helpful things to know as you begin.
Identify, familiarize yourself, and prepare for you triggers
Throughout your journey to recovery, it’s likely you’ll face many triggers, or circumstances that tempt one into relapse. Triggers are a normal part of recovery, but it helps to identify your specific triggers and make a plan for how to tackle them.
“Everyone is different, so every recovering addict’s set of triggers will be different as well. Some common triggers are walking by a bar, seeing someone who is drunk or high, getting paid, the end of a grueling workday, getting into an argument with someone, and being bored,” says Psych Central. “Triggers and cravings are a very real part of recovery. Do not try to fool yourself into thinking that they will not happen to you. Instead, know your triggers, stay open to anything that may surprise you, and have a plan for when you feel yourself being triggered.”
Common triggers for those in recovery can be remembered using HALT - Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired. These are common, but everyone is different. Identify your triggers and work to minimize their influence.
It’s not just about quitting unhealthy behaviors
On path the recovery, the most important milestones are the periods with using drugs or alcohol. But substance abuse is not just about the substances. Many times, there are underlying issues - deep in the psyche - that promote the unhealthy behavior. A true path to recovery involves coming to terms with these issues, so that you can avoid relapse.
It’s important to truly figure out what triggered the addiction, otherwise you may end up trading it for a “healthy” addiction - which turns out isn’t that healthy after all.
"It is not uncommon for someone in recovery to suddenly stop the unhealthy addiction and substitute a 'healthier' one. These can include things like excessive working out or spirituality or religion. Rather than work through possible deeper, underlying issues related to the addiction, the person transfers in a more obsessive way, to these other engagements which then consume their thoughts and time, and can jeopardize some of their relationships with others similar to the original addiction,” Kent Provost, PhD, addiction specialist in the College of Counseling, Psychology & Social Sciences at Argosy University in Chicago tells’ Reader’s Digest.
It’s ok to ask for help
Ultimately, every road to recovery is the responsibility of the addict. You must overcome addiction for yourself, for your reasons, and through your own strength and courage. This doesn’t mean, however, that you shouldn’t seek help. If you think a recovery center may be right for you, here’s a good search tool for facilities in your area.
And of course, it’s ok to lean on family and friends. They want to help. Never put pressure on them to “keep you in check” or “make you not use” - remember, it’s ultimately your responsibility not theirs. But you can and should ask them for help and companionship during this tough time in your life.
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