Recovering from addiction is not a walk in the park, despite what some people entering rehab may believe. It is not as simple as detoxing, and then you’re healed, even though many wish it could be this way. Addiction is a chronic disease, meaning there is a potential risk of relapse at every point in the healing process. Recovery takes consistent, diligent work to be successful, and you can’t let up for a moment if you want to protect your sobriety. However, even though recovery requires all of this hard work, it is still easier and a greater alternative to staying trapped in the cycle of addiction.
Understanding the common problems, emotions, and obstacles faced in early recovery that make the process seem so difficult and learning how to overcome them will set you on the right track to long-term sobriety. Remember, recovery is hard, but regret is harder.
Addiction Is Chronic
Addiction is a chronic disease. You may already know this, but do you understand it? Just as other conditions such as type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer are chronic, addiction acts in the same way. Treatment can help manage symptoms and lessen discomfort, but relapse is possible at any stage of the healing process. This is why it is vital to keep up treatment even when you leave rehab.
There is no cure for addiction, meaning it will never entirely disappear. However, you can live a happy and healthy life as long as you practice relapse prevention and engage in healthy coping mechanisms. Accepting that addiction is chronic can take time, but as you see the benefits of sobriety over time, it becomes easier to maintain.
Triggers Are Everywhere
The world is not built to support sobriety, especially in the United States. Drinking is seen as a social activity, with peer pressure commonly occurring at social events and activities. Legalized marijuana and other drugs have also played into more widespread acceptance of use, causing addiction and relapse rates to skyrocket.
However, triggers and other reminders of addiction are not always so obvious. For example, you may find yourself flipping through new recipes to try for dinner and unexpectedly find a page on good wine options to pair with the meals. Or, you may come home from treatment to family members still drinking, just now realizing the impact this behavior had on you and your addiction.
Learning how to cope with triggers is key to a successful recovery, but it is understandably difficult. Even the most seasoned individuals in recovery still struggle with seeing triggers everywhere, but having healthy coping strategies and a strong support network can help you overcome them.
Recovery Involves Mental and Emotional Healing Too
One of the most common misconceptions of recovery is that it entails no longer using drugs and alcohol, which means you’re healed. However, recovery is much more than the physical healing you will go through. Mental and emotional healing is what takes longer in recovery, but these are what will give you long-term sobriety. Often, there are underlying issues present when someone struggles with addiction, and recovery is the time to address these. This is why individual and group therapy is crucial in treatment, as the person learns to confront their personal obstacles and then overcome them.
Mental and emotional healing are the reasons why recovery doesn’t happen overnight. You have to put in consistent work to confront the problematic parts of yourself and heal them. This can be a long and arduous process, especially when dealing with childhood traumas and memories. However, healing is possible and takes time. Don’t give up because the process is long, but put in the work and see your life transform for the better.
Healing is Always Better Than the Alternative
Throughout everything that recovery has in store for you, the good and the bad, it is vital to remember why you started in the first place. Even on the most challenging days in recovery, you are still better off than on your best days in active addiction. One of the biggest motivators for individuals struggling in their recovery journeys is to picture their future if they stay in recovery versus returning to their addictive behaviors. The thought of what life will look like if they allow themselves to slip up is typically enough to push them forward in the recovery process.
Remember, recovery is always the better option, and there are tons of people in the community that will support you on your best and worst days. Keep going!
Recovering from addiction is not easy, but it is worth every tear, obstacle, and bad day. Healing is not linear, and you shouldn’t expect yourself to be perfect all the time. There will be times you struggle with recovery, but this is how you know you are getting better. After all, we don’t heal when things are going right; we heal when we have to overcome the things holding us back. NorthStar Transitions understands that recovery is not a walk in the park, which is why we tailor our programs to help patients navigate real-life recovery. At NorthStar, we utilize a combination of traditional and experiential therapies in a variety of programs such as residential treatment, outpatient therapy, sober living, day treatment, and intensive outpatient treatment. We work to actively address your individual needs to set you up for a successful recovery. If you or someone you know is currently struggling, call us today at (303) 558-6400.