If you’ve resolved to get sober this year, you should know that the first few months of sobriety can be overwhelming; and with good reason. Even after receiving professional treatment, the early stages of addiction recovery carry the highest potential for relapse. The good news, however, is that you can stay sober even through the toughest part of recovery as long as you know what to expect— and, subsequently, how to respond.
Within The First Few Days of Early Addiction Recovery…
…You’ll Experience Sensory Overload
One consequence that all forms of substance abuse have in common is distortion. Your mind and body function differently when under the influence of drugs and alcohol. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that one of the first things you’ll experience in early addiction recovery is a flood of clashing sensations. During the first few days of being sober, you’ll feel happy and hopeful, but you’ll probably also feel out of sorts— both emotionally and physically. Some of the most common withdrawal symptoms in early addiction recovery include:
It will take some time for you to get a handle on all of these conflicting feelings, and that’s okay. In the meantime, there are several practical coping methods you can use to make it through your first few days of early addiction recovery.
…You’ll Need to Build a Strong Support System
Gathering a reliable support system of people you trust is one of the essential steps in the addiction recovery process. With help from your sponsor, peers, friends, and family, you’ll be able to build a safer environment and a stable routine for yourself. All in all, having a support system will make your recovery a lot easier— not only during the first few days but also for the rest of your life.
…You’ll Need to Create and Follow a Daily Schedule
In addiction recovery, following a daily schedule amounts to much more than busywork. It’s an essential part of building a routine that will help keep you on track in your sobriety. In fact, a lot of what you should be doing during the early stages of your addiction recovery will need to be scheduled. How else will you keep track of your meetings, therapy appointments, sleep cycle and eating habits?
…You’ll Need to Know Your Triggers—And How to Handle Them
Properly identifying and handling your triggers is a fundamental part of avoiding relapse. Doing this during the early stages of addiction recovery can be challenging since you’ve only just learned the skills you’ll need fend off cravings. Still, the easiest ways to avoid any potential triggers are to 1) cut ties with any old friends who enable you or still abuse substances themselves, and 2) stay away from places or things that remind you of your past use.
It’s important to remember, though, that there’s no guarantee that you won’t come into contact with a trigger or two on your road to recovery. Triggers exist everywhere— on television, on the radio, on the internet, and pretty much any other form of media. The best thing you can do to cope is to follow your personalized relapse prevention plan or, if you need to, reach out to your sponsor for help.
Within The First Few Weeks of Early Addiction Recovery…
…You’ll Experience a Wide Range of Emotions
Once the more physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal have passed, you may still experience emotional side effects during the first few weeks of your addiction recovery. This is normal. The first thirty or so days of sobriety are ripe with emotions since 1) the body is still in the process of healing itself and 2) you’re essentially rebuilding your life after overcoming addiction. You can expect to feel a lot of shame, guilt, anger, relief, fear, hope and joy. You may even mourn your old habits. That’s perfectly natural. In any case, there will be lots of crying during the first few weeks of addiction recovery, so be prepared.
…You’ll Need to Create and Maintain a Safe Environment for Yourself
Your home should already be clear of anything related to your past substance abuse— especially the substances themselves. However, making your home safe won’t amount to much if you don’t work hard to keep it that way. In addition to being mindful of your triggers, you should make sure to set boundaries with your loved ones. Make it abundantly clear that addictive substances of any kind are no longer allowed in your home, even if they weren’t the center of your addiction. For example, even if you are recovering from opioid abuse, you should refrain from drinking alcohol. Addiction is a disease that can manifest in different forms if you’re not cautious in your recovery.
…You’ll Need to Practice Healthy Habits
It’s not unusual for people in the early stages of recovery to find solace in other addictive habits. You may find that, during your recovery, you’re drinking more coffee or eating more junk food. While this isn’t unusual, these kinds of habits can be harmful in the long run if you don’t put a stop to them before they become part of your new routine.
The whole point of recovery is to take better care of yourself— and you can’t do that by trading in one severely bad habit for several lesser ones. You’ll stand a better chance of staying sober by taking better care of your body in general. This means fulfilling your nutritional needs, getting enough sleep every night, and exercising regularly.
Within The First Few Months of Early Addiction Recovery…
…You’ll Experience a Change in Your Physical, Mental and Emotional Health
At this point in your addiction recovery, your brain and your body should be able to function without the need for drugs and alcohol as a crutch. Once you’ve gotten past the hurdles outlined above, you’ll start to see some significant (and very positive) changes in your appearance, mood, and your overall well-being. You’ll feel healthier and stronger— but most importantly, you’ll feel free.
…You’ll Still Need to Keep Your Guard Up
At this point in your recovery, you’ll probably be feeling like you’re on top of the world. However, just because you’re on the right track after a few months of recovery doesn’t mean you should let yourself become complacent in your progress. Arguably the most vital part of the addiction recovery process is keeping your guard up. All it takes is one unexpected trigger for to trip you up. False confidence one of the most common causes of relapse, so beware!
Prepare for the Expected (And Unexpected) in Early Addiction Recovery with TTC Care
The first few months of being sober will be difficult, but it’ll be worth it for a longer, healthier life. If you or someone you care about is looking to start their journey to sobriety, call The Treatment Center Residential Addiction Care center at (844) 201-3136 for more information about our personalized addiction recovery programs and services. All calls are confidential.