09 Aug Afraid Of Facing Recovery Alone? You Have Options
What’s holding you back from trying to overcome drug or alcohol addiction? Is it that you’re afraid of facing recovery alone? If you think that you’re in this solo, you may be encouraged to learn that you have options. You won’t be on your own in recovery, if you take advantage of recovery options that are available to you.
First and Foremost is Family
There’s nothing that replaces the love and support from family members as you take your first tentative steps in recovery. After you complete treatment to overcome whatever your drug of choice was – alcohol, illicit drugs, and/or prescription drugs used to get high, gambling, sexual addiction, or workaholism – the primary support network you should be able to tap into is that of your family.
Not everyone is lucky enough to have a loving and supportive family. Some people coming out of rehab formerly lived on the streets, or are living alone, have no family members still living or the ones that are alive either have become estranged from the recovering addict or live too far away to be much support on an ongoing basis.
Even these individuals have options in recovery. We’ll touch more on that later.
For now, consider that your most important allies in your recovery are the members of your family. These are generally speaking the ones you live with, such as your spouse or partner, your parents, even your children. What’s important is that family members learn as much as they can about the disease of addiction and how they can better support your goals in recovery. The key is not to be overbearing or to nag you or constantly check up on you, but to learn how they can change their own behaviors to be more supportive in a healthier way, possibly change some of their own bad habits that are not conducive to your sobriety.
Where do family members learn how to support you in recovery? If they haven’t already participated in family treatment while you were in rehab, there’s always another option. They can – and should – attend regular meetings of the 12-step family groups such as Al-Anon/Alateen, the family group component of Alcoholics Anonymous, the fellowship that those recovering from alcohol abuse and addiction most often attend. Al-Anon is for the spouses and close friends of those in recovery, while Alateen is for older adolescent members of the family.
The Narcotics Anonymous family group is Nar-Anon. For recovering gamblers attending Gamblers Anonymous, family members can find fellowship and support for themselves in Gam-Anon. Other 12-step groups have their own versions of family group offshoots.
12-Step Group Participation is a Necessity
Almost universally, recovery experts recommend that newcomers to sobriety make it a practice to regularly attend 12-Step groups. We would revise that to say it’s a necessity. Why? When you are in recovery from addiction, you have a lot of real-world experience to learn. It’s no longer that you’re in the safe confines of rehab. Once you step foot back home you’re in your own realm, and you face living in sobriety without the ever-present reassurance of your therapists and counselors from treatment.
It’s a fact that 12-Step groups provide the ongoing support and encouragement that many in recovery say they’d be lost without. This is something that you need to pay close attention to, since you need support from this day forward.
Even if you believe that you’ve learned all there is to learn about the disease of addiction, or that you think you can handle whatever comes along in your life without relapsing back into drugs or alcohol (or gambling or compulsive sex or workaholism), you will still benefit from the always available, nonjudgmental support and encouragement from your 12-Step sponsor and fellow 12-Step group members.
The Alcoholics Anonymous website is a fount of information that should be a first-stop for you now that you’re in recovery. Check out where there are meetings close to where you live and work, as well as other meeting locations in your community. According to statistics provided by Alcoholics Anonymous, there are an estimated 2 million men and women in the organization who meet regularly to share their experience, strength and hope with each other. These men and women say their everyday lives are a whole lot better than they used to be – and they get stronger in their sobriety every day, thanks to the support and encouragement of their sponsors and fellow Alcoholics Anonymous group members.
Alcoholics Anonymous or A.A. can be found in your local telephone directory or online (http://www.aa.org/index.cfm?Media=PlayFlash). There are no dues or fees to join and you remain anonymous – only first names are used. The only requirement to join is a sincere desire to stop drinking. The primary purpose of Alcoholics Anonymous is help individual members stay sober and to help each other achieve sobriety.
Narcotics Anonymous, also known as the NA Fellowship, has a comprehensive website (http://na.org/) filled with useful information. The organization’s vision, stated on its website, is that “Every addict in the world has the chance to experience our message in his or her own language and culture and find the opportunity for a new way of life.” You can find a meeting via access to local helplines and websites or use the NA Meeting Search function (http://portaltools.na.org/portaltools/MeetingLoc/).
Gamblers Anonymous (http://gamblersanonymous.org/) is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other in order that each may solve their common problem and help others recover from a gambling problem. Find a meeting by checking out the meeting directory (http://gamblersanonymous.org/mtgdirTOP.html) or call the Gamblers Anonymous hotline at 1-888-GA-HELPS (1-888-424-3577). The main website also has information on the GA recovery program, 20 questions, Q&A, history, information about the Gam-Anon family program and more.
Peer Support Recovery Services
Many people in recovery are at different points in the healing and recovery process. Whether it’s recovery from a substance use disorder or process behavior, what each needs is some form of social support that can help them through the process. Peer recovery support services are a new kind of social support services that’s designed to fill these needs. As the name implies, the services are designed and delivered by peers, people who have experienced both substance use disorder and recovery.
Through the Recovery Community Services Program (RCSP), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) funds grant projects across the United States to develop and deliver these services.
What kinds of services are available to you in recovery? There are four types of social support and associated peer recovery support services. These are emotional, informational, instrumental and affiliational.
· Emotional support demonstrates empathy, caring or concern that helps bolster your self-esteem and confidence. This is accomplished by peer mentoring and peer-led support groups.
· Informational support shares knowledge and information and/or provides life or vocational skills training. Examples include parenting class, job readiness training and wellness seminars.
· Instrumental support helps provide concrete assistance to those in recovery accomplish tasks. Child care, transportation services, and help accessing community health and social services are examples of this kind of support.
· Affiliational support facilitates contact with others to help promote learning social and recreational skills, create community and a sense of belonging. Recovery centers, sports league participation, and alcohol- and drug-free socialization opportunities are examples.
Recommendations for Approaching Recovery
Most important to remember is that you are never alone in your recovery journey. There are always people available to help you with support and encouragement when you hit a rough patch, encounter a crisis of major or minor proportions, or simply are feeling blue, confused and ill-equipped to face recovery on your own.
You will need to do a little legwork to find the 12-Step group or community peer-to-peer recovery support group that can help you in your recovery. In this respect, finding help is no different from researching help for any problem. The difference is that your goal to find recovery support is more than just an educational undertaking. For you and millions of others in recovery from substance abuse or other addiction, recovery is a lifelong journey.
Recognize that your addiction or problems with substances didn’t occur overnight. Likely it took many months or even years to develop into full-blown addiction or where your life no longer made any sense and was filled with one nightmare after another, compounded by escalating problems brought on by your addiction.
Similarly, recovery will take time to take hold – and you have to be willing to work at it and work hard. There are going to be days when you face an uphill battle. But no matter what, it won’t be as bad as the worst days of your addiction. At least now, you’re in recovery, you have support, you have options.
First item on your agenda is to do everything you can to maximize your chances for effective recovery. This means get yourself to a 12-Step meeting and put it on your schedule for regular attendance. During the first three months or 90 days of recovery, you may wish to go to meetings several times a day and every day of the week. That’s because the first 90 days is the most critical time. It’s during this time when those new to sobriety have the greatest risk of relapse. Why? For one thing, it is often that they simply lack the self-confidence or knowledge to be able to cope with triggers and cravings and urges.
Second item to consider is to sit down with your family members and talk about your goals in recovery. Let your loved ones know that you appreciate their ongoing support and encouragement and you are firmly committed to sobriety. It’s also a good idea to let them know that your first priority has to be your sobriety for the time being. Now that you’re clean and sober, you need time to become more fully versed in what it takes to maintain your sobriety. This is almost like a full-time job, but it’s even more important than any kind of employment. Recovery simply has to be your constant focus.
Having said that, recovery should not all be about hard work. You should look upon recovery as a gift of life, because in truth, that’s really what it is. Yes, you need to work hard at it, but what you get out of a sober lifestyle is truly worth the effort. Take time for relaxing, to read and meditate, to walk in the woods, to show your love for your family with a kind word and warm embrace.
Be sure to celebrate your sobriety milestones when they occur. Your first month sober is a big one, followed by your 60-day milestone, 90-day and first-year anniversary in recovery. Make no mistake about it. These milestones are a big deal. You are solidifying your recovery and gaining in self-confidence and self-esteem with each successive sobriety milestone.
Of course, the biggest piece of advice is that you allow yourself time to heal, to gain strength and confidence in your abilities to remain in effective recovery. Don’t be in a rush to get some arbitrary place. Everyone in recovery started at the beginning. Each person has their own unique path to recovery. What works for the next person will be completely different – although perhaps very similar in some respects – to what turns out to be best for you.
In line with this is the final bit of advice: Live in the present. Don’t worry about the past, which is dead and gone. You are not your addiction. You’ve chosen sobriety and are now on that lifelong journey. Neither should you pay too much attention to the future. After all, you can’t live the future any more than you can live in the past. Life is what you do here and now. Today and what you do for your recovery today is what matters. Tomorrow will evolve out of what you do today.
Does this seem like too much to take in? Don’t worry. Take it one day at a time. Surround yourself with others who are also in recovery. Be warm and loving with your family and thank them for their support and encouragement. Create recovery-focused goals for yourself and map out action plans to achieve them. Take time to enjoy the little things in life: sunrise and sunset, the laughter of children, the sights and sounds of your family members enjoying each other’s company, a beautiful melody, and the feel of snow on your eyelids.
Above all, if you are afraid of facing recovery alone, be assured that you have options. Take advantage of them.
Find relief in recovery. Life gets better with addiction treatment.
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