Starting the New Year in Recovery
Author: Atlanta Addiction Recovery Center Editor
For many, the New Year represents a clean slate. It offers the opportunity for self-reflection and inspires many of us to make the changes necessary to improve our lives. If you’ve been thinking about finally starting a life in recovery, now is an ideal time to begin the journey. But just like most resolutions, your recovery will take real commitment and a desire to change your way of life at the core. Each year, many vow to hit the gym, eat better and maintain health, but within a few weeks they find themselves falling back into old patterns. Only those who are truly dedicated to making deep fundamental change will stay on their path. Recovery is no different. The New Year offers a benchmark to start fresh, but you must do the work to stay on your path.
Here are some tips to help you have a successful first year in recovery.
Attend all of your 12-step meetings.
Attending 12-step meetings is vitally important to your recovery, especially in these first crucial stages. Meetings provide the opportunity to build a support network, cultivate healthy new relationships and connect with those who understand your struggles. Meetings are a safe place to share your thoughts, experiences and listen to others share similar stories. Going regularly is key, so be sure to choose times and locations that will make attendance as convenient as possible for you.
Work with a sponsor.
Choosing a sponsor to support you in recovery can be one of the most meaningful relationships that you have. A sponsor gives encouragement, offers advice and is there to help guide you through your first year in recovery. Your sponsor offers emotional support, is someone you can trust and is a good role model in showing you how to apply the 12-steps in your life.
Stay close to your recovery team.
Your first year in recovery won’t be easy and you will need to lean on and stay close to your recovery team. Your team will consist of doctors, nurses, therapists and other addiction specialists to help keep you sober, healthy and focused on your recovery work.
Regularly attend a worship or fellowship group.
Leaning on your faith and surrendering your worries to God will help guide you through your darkest times. Taking the time to attend a worship or fellowship group will keep you connected to the Holy Spirit, bond with others who have similar beliefs and inspire you to stay strong on your path. Worship and fellowship groups offer bible study, reflection on 12-step devotions and prayer to foster your recovery every step of the way.
Don’t begin a new romantic relationship.
You will likely experience a lot of emotional ups and downs your first year in recovery. Even though you may feel lonely, getting involved in a romantic relationship may not be a good idea. You are now learning how to live a sober life and it will be an intense period of healing and self-discovery. You will not be in the best place to choose a partner or know how to maintain a healthy relationship. As you progress, become whole again and adjust to a healthy new life, you can think about dating. But for now the focus should be all about you.
Know your triggers.
You will be vulnerable to relapse your first year in recovery, so it’s important to know your triggers and avoid them. Triggers will be different for everyone, but there are some common ones to avoid. Be sure to stay away from people, places and events that you associate with drug or alcohol use. Watch for negative feelings such as depression, guilt, anxiety or fear that may make you want to self-medicate. Whatever your particular triggers may be, work with your recovery team to help you recognize them and practice appropriate coping skills when you feel tempted to use.
Avoid major life changes.
It is generally not a good time to make any major life changes in your first year of recovery. Wait on major decisions not related to your recovery for when you are healthy. Stress and anxiety are common triggers for relapse and you don’t need to put any added pressure on yourself. Save making that big move, applying for that new job, ending any major relationships or changing careers for later in your recovery process when you’re in a more stable place mentally, physically and emotionally. For now, adjusting to a life in sobriety is change enough.
Celebrate each and every achievement, no matter how small. You’ll find that anniversaries and reaching milestones in your 12-step program are highly valued. They are a special time to honor and acknowledge your accomplishments usually by marking your 24-hour, 30-day, 60-day, 90-day and one year milestones living in sobriety. Your first year in recovery is a time when your new life is really beginning to take shape and pave the way for a solid foundation. So be proud and give yourself the credit you deserve!
Relax and participate in sober activities that you enjoy.
Your new life in recovery will be challenging, so it’s important to make time to play. Finding healthy activities, embracing your hobbies and engaging in healthy relationships will bring you much needed stress relief and add some joy to your day. Whether you love to play a sport, an instrument, read, paint or draw, find your happy place so you can relax. Working on recovering will take up a great deal of your time, so getting in some “me” time will help you unwind and recharge.
Exercise and eat right.
Exercise and nutrition are vitally important to recovering your health. Adopting a healthy way of life includes eating right and exercising in order to heal. Your body has been through a lot and many recovering addicts are malnourished when they first enter treatment. Exercise and nutrition can go a long way in repairing the damage caused by your addiction. Foods that naturally boost dopamine levels are particularly beneficial for the brain and body. Exercise helps boost mood, keeps you in shape and increases energy. Making these healthy choices on a daily basis will help keep you on the path of sobriety.
If you or a loved one is ready to seek treatment and start a new life in recovery, Atlanta Addiction Recovery Center can help. Please reach out today to start the New Year in health and sobriety. Call 770-336-7833 to speak with one of our caring addiction specialists.