If life were a marathon, then slipping into a cycle of substance abuse is like collapsing to the ground. Seeking recovery occurs when a person recognizes that they have fallen and decides to get up, dust themselves off, and finish the race. The rest of that marathon is recovery, and those first few steps: regaining one’s balance, learning to trust those muscles again, and avoiding pitfalls to find a stride are the hardest part of the run.
Long distance runners have what they call: “The Wall”, a stage within a race when the stress of the run starts to surmount their will and negative thoughts start to threaten their continued advancement. When these athletes defeat the wall, the rest of the race seems downhill by comparison. In rehabilitation this is referred to as the period of “early recovery”. With each individual the time frame is different, but is typically around a year.
Regaining one’s balance in their life is paramount to staying on the recovery path. All too often the tendency is to replace the excessive behavior of the substance abuse with a excessive proxy behavior like binge eating or gambling. Instead one should strive to keep from doing anything in excess. There are still going to be urges to use and so the need arises to practice restraint with regard to all impulses. That being said, it’s important in recovery to find enjoyable and meaningful activities to occupy oneself with. Likely there are interests or hobbies that have been abandoned with the onset of substance abuse, delving back into such activities is both rewarding and reawakens old healthy pathways in your brain. Having the little things of life in harmony makes it easier to spot and manage unforeseen stress hurdles one will come across while in the recovery process.
Learning to trust in oneself again can be difficult, but is imperative to recovery. Forgiveness of the self is more important than the forgiveness of others and is the only absolution for which one should strive, the rest will come if and when they come. Dwelling on past mistakes and being mindful of repeating them isn’t the same thing. While keeping up a vigilance against slipping again, it’s beneficial to celebrate the mile markers along the way. As long as the revelry in accomplishments doesn’t transcend into blind overconfidence, a strength and trust in oneself can be forged that will carry on through many more worthwhile goals.
Finding stable company is a must. Social animals have a desire to be accepted by their peers. The same comfortability that is found when indulging in substance abuse with others can be found by running with those who do not. It’s important to note that dating should be avoided during the early recovery period even with such potential mates that fall into the abstaining category. A person in recovery is going through a process of renewing the relationship with their own feelings which is a heavy load in and of itself. All major life changes should be avoided if possible until the time that the recoverer has fully embraced their desire to be well and has found their stride in earnest.
The road to recovery is long, and the way must be paced, there are no shortcuts. But like a marathon the joy is in the journey, the accomplishment in never giving up, the rewards enrich the will. Sometimes you need a hand to reach your feet again and a word to push you through to the next leg.
The Orlando Recovery Center implements a multi-disciplinary approach to drug treatment and continues to be with you every step of the way. It’s about creating a new life, one without the burden of addiction and instilling freedom and health.
Written by: Amanda Nelson