In honor of Recovery Month, which occurs every September, let’s outline and review the requirements of a successful recovery. Like addiction, every recovery is individual and unique. Yet, certain aspects of recovery apply to everyone. But these aspects still need to be accompanied by the individual components. You should adhere to this guidance — no matter how difficult or uncomfortable it may feel at first – if you want to be successful in recovery.
Build a positive support system/Get rid of the old using “friends”
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), this is the number one thing that hinders most addicts from continuing in recovery and promotes the most relapses. You must break ALL ties to the people, places, and things related to your addiction. This is often easier said than done, as these people may be a spouse or a family member. Personally, I had to walk away from a 12-year relationship with the father of my child. As I held on to him, I continued to fail in my sobriety and recovery. I was able to get cleaned once I walked away from him, and have continued my recovery ever since. This alone didn’t create my sobriety, but it did help set better conditions for success.
Seek professional help to face all of your issues, and also to make sure you do not suffer from any type of mental illness
Out of the 23.5 million Americans suffering from a substance use disorder, 8.9 million of them suffer from a mental illness. This equals 38% or more than 1/3 of all addicts. Over half of that 38% receive no treatment for either condition. Do not let this be you. We all have an underlying reason, or reasons, why we use drugs in the first place. We will continue to use until we face those demons and truly deal with them, preferably with the help of a licensed professional. That same professional can also help determine if you are also afflicted with mental illness. A mental illness should not be a source of shame, but something to be addressed and treated. It is VITAL that you address both addiction and mental illness in order to enter recovery on strong footing.
Boredom/Not having positive or fulfilling activities in your life
This is a huge challenge for a lot of recovering addicts because, if they follow the first suggestion, then they just cleared their list of people and places they used to hang out with. This was one of my biggest hurdles when I entered recovery. I literally no idea who I really was, what I enjoyed (beyond getting high!) or where to go. All I knew is what NOT to do. I clung to that for a while before deciding to go where there were people like me: an NA Meeting. Please know that you do not have to subscribe to this pathway of recovery if it does not work for you. I just knew I needed to meet people with the same struggles and goals as me, which was to stay off of drugs. Meeting these people led me to a community action meeting about opiates. This meeting led to a speaking opportunity and an offer to be on the board of directors for a local non-profit that fights the heroin/opiate epidemic. This led me to my job at a detox center, where I have made the most wonderful, positive, understanding group of friends (REAL, TRUE friends) that I have ever met! You have to keep busy, get a job, and find recovery-based activities and friends. Just make sure those friends are on the same page as you. When you have idle time, take a walk, do a puzzle or play a game. As silly it may sound, if you keep your mind busy, then you will not think about doing bad things.
Obviously, these are just a few of the many things a recovering addict must do in order to live successfully in recovery. but the three components listed above are the essentials. Being successful at recovering from a drug problem is difficult at best, and those that manage to do so only do so by adhering to the strictest of guidelines. There is no permanent recovery from drug addiction if you do what you have always done. A wise woman once told me that you only have to change TWO things in order to be successful in recovery: Everything you think, and everything you do! While you may be laughing or shaking your head, be prepared to do both of those things, and much more, if you want this life of recovery. It isn’t always easy, but it is ALWAYS worth it!