There’s a lot of misconceptions and hearsay when it comes to addiction recovery. Knowing what lies ahead helps to quell your concerns and allow you to focus on the journey ahead, instead. Recovery is a journey, not a destination, so recognizing that the path will sometimes get bumpy is important. Anticipating these rough patches helps you to work through them on the faith that better days lie ahead. That being said, there are a few harsh realities you discover in your first year sober that people don’t really talk about.
#1: Sometimes It Is Your Fault
People have a tendency to view others in recovery as fragile and weak, which couldn’t be further from the truth. It takes a fair amount of strength and dedication to lead a sober lifestyle, but it also requires a lot of honesty- with both yourself and those around you. Shifting blame and pointing fingers does nothing to help the recovery process; in fact, avoiding accepting responsibility for your actions hinders your growth and progress.
That’s why one of the first realities you must come to terms with in your first year sober is that sometimes it is your fault. While some situations may be out of your control, you can always make the right decisions when governing your responses. Recognizing how your actions can bring about the negative situations in your life allows you to make better choices in the future. It’s okay to be wrong, sometimes.
#2: Not Everyone is Interested in Giving You a Second Chance
The desire to make up for your past actions can be intense during your first year sober. While there are some things we can atone for, obsessing over the mistakes of your past only sets you up for a pitfall into relapse. Be wise in choosing which bridges you attempt to rebuild; only do so because there is love and support lying on the other side. You have to be willing to accept and respect the choices of others, rather they align with your desires or not. Remember: rather they forgive and forget or not is more a reflection of them than of you. It should hold no bearing on rather your path remains straight and true.
#3: Some People Are Never Going to Forget Who You Used to Be
In the same vain of those who will not want to give you a second chance are those who will refuse to allow your past to be just that. They will wait for you to slip up, they will cut down your achievements by reminding you of your shortcomings. Just as with those who aren’t interested in giving you a second chance, you have to acknowledge this harsh reality, but it doesn’t have to define your journey moving forward. The opinions and doubts of others should fuel you, not hinder your progress. Hold your head up, take the high road, and know that you are much more than your past.
#4: The Work May Get Easier, But it Never Ends
The false expectation that once you leave rehab, all will be smooth sailing is one of the most dangerous misconceptions about your first year sober. Your time during treatment is intended to teach you the skill necessary to lead a new lifestyle free of drugs and alcohol There’s no magical cure to addiction; those kinds of expectations following discharge from treatment leaves you vulnerable to relapse.
Long-term recovery is a combination of dedication and self-awareness. Each morning that you wake up, you choose to make the best decisions to maintain your sobriety. The further you get along your recovery path, the easier the steps may become, but you must never stop walking or working to improve yourself. The moment you stop moving forward, you begin to slip back again.
#5: Your Success is Entirely Up to You
Therapists, counselors, life coaches, and sponsors are here to help you build a strong foundation for your future. The tools they give you don’t work if you don’t use them. At the end of the day, no one can walk this journey of recovery but you. No one can hold you more accountable for your actions than you; no one has a better understanding of your mental and emotional state than you. Practicing consistent mindfulness and self-awareness helps to stop urges and triggers before they happen, and reinforce your commitment to sobriety. The only limits of where sober life can take you are the ones you place on yourself. Aim high.