Before someone struggling with addiction gets sober, they tend to believe that all they need to do is stop engaging in their addictive behavior if they wish to fix their problems, and it’s as easy as that. They either stop drinking or stop taking drugs and once they do that, everything will change, and their lives will be perfect.  However, not so long after they actually get sober, they realize the cold hard truth – that things are not that simple, and to live free of addiction we must create a brand new reality by changing almost everything about ourselves, and the life in which we have always lived. 

Early Recovery

Early on in recovery every person struggling with addiction will eventually become aware of their past behavior. We gain a sense of clarity and finally see what everybody else has been seeing for so long. We clearly see how dishonest, selfish and manipulative our behaviors have been while using. The normal reaction to this realization is to change and, as a result, we begin to become helpful, useful, selfless and caring. 

Within twelve-step fellowships and treatment facilities, people in recovery are told that by addressing their old behaviors and by pursing personal development, that we are not merely following suggestions, but we may well be saving our own lives. Based upon this new chilling information, often individuals dive into their sobriety and their new way of life with all that they have, and are driven by newfound passions, enthusiasm, excitement, hopes but also fears. Everyone in early recovery remembers the pain and the torment which they had experienced while existing in active addiction. They know just how dark and how low that they can go, and will do all that they can to not be in that place again.

Working With Others

When working with others, people in recovery sacrifice their time in order to help other people who are struggling with life and addictions just as they once were. During the early months and years of sobriety, the act of working with others often takes preference over every other thing within their life. For a while this becomes their number one priority and their primary point of focus. Attending groups, conferences, conventions, and conversing with others in recovery, all play a massive part in early recovery. However, as our recovery progresses, we can forget how important working with others is. As our own lives develop and progress in the ways that we had always hoped, sometimes we can lose sight of what kept us sober in the early days. It is important to remember that some things are essential to continue doing in order to remain sober. Conversing with others and working with others in recovery are both key ingredients for long term sobriety. 

Recovery Goals

Many in recovery aspire to live a normal life after recovering from addiction. A normal life involving jobs, having families, maintaining friendships, creating hobbies and pursuing dreams. All of these things take continuous effort to create and take even more effort to maintain. With this being said, it is natural to see a person in recovery slowly moving their attention away from recovery groups and instead, giving equal or more attention to the relationships and responsibilities of life. 

Recovery/Life Balance

So how do individuals in recovery find this temperamental balance of leading a full recovered life while adhering to all that they need to do to sustain their recovery? Firstly, sobriety has to take precedence over everything. The key to a long sobriety and a healthy “recovery to life balance” is distinguishing what is essential for long term sobriety and what is not. It is imperative that the individual can identify between what recovery programs actually instruct them to do, and what are merely the opinions of another person or group. 

Long-Term Recovery Tool Kit

Persons in recovery require a variety of coping mechanisms and preventative routines in order to live a happy and balanced life. These could be learned coping methods such as meditation, yoga, Tai chi etc. or followed instructions from support groups such as Big Book suggestions. Either way, coping methods and preventative measures are essential. Individuals in recovery also require people around them who listen, talk and share as they do. This ideally could be peers in recovery, but it appears that as long as a person in recovery is able to share with someone who listens, then this is more than adequate.

Recovery requires transparency and honesty.  This includes relationships, work and family. The more secrets, resentments, worries, fears or issues a person holds onto, the greater internal problems they will encounter, and if left unchecked, relapse could well possibly be an outcome further down the line. Individuals in recovery also require direction, purpose, passion, drive and creativity. Wherever this comes from is irrelevant, but that passionate drive has to come from somewhere. It could show itself in helping others, art, photography, music, writing etc. It seems that various outlets are not only beneficial but essential to lasting sobriety.

Whether someone in recovery follows a twelve-step program, is a member of other support groups and follow alternate recovery plans, goes to meetings or does not go to meetings at all, ultimately they are all required to maintain their sobriety in one way or another.  It is a daily endeavor. There are many ways to do this and it comes down to whatever suits a person best.  There is no right or wrong way, what works for one, may well not work for others and vice versa. At the end of the day, we all try our best in this life, we all aspire to be better, and we all seek purpose and happiness in everything that we do.