Early recovery is a trying time, no two ways about it. Every aspect of our lives is completely altered in the matter of a few brief months. We must relearn (or learn for the first time) how to behave like productive, principled, self-sufficient adults. We must put down the drink or the drug, and finally face the hard truth about ourselves and our past behaviors. We must feel the emotional pain that we have been incessantly attempting to numb-out – we must face our demons, and conquer them once and for all. Seems a little intimidating, no?
With all of that on our plates, it may be difficult to imagine taking on anything else. Still, we are expected to begin working… learning how to be self-sufficient and responsible. It may seem overwhelming when we stand back and attempt to plan out the future, but the reality is this: everything falls into place, and living a life of sobriety is almost always instantaneously easier than drinking or drugging ever was or will be.
Because we have no idea how to live life successfully, we will need to turn to others for advice. It is important that we trust who we are turning to – that our supports come from a place of experience (and trial and error). We may hear some things that don’t quite compute. No relationships in the first year? You’ve got to be joking. Take a look at some ‘early recovery’ suggestions, and whether or not they any bear validity at all.
- No Relationships Within the First Year of Recovery.
This piece of advice will inevitably be thrust upon you by numerous therapists, AA old-timers, and sober supports alike. Why? Because it’s a thing. When we first enter recovery, we are not whole – we lack a vital sense of self-identity, self-esteem, and self-worth. In order to contribute anything of substance to a romantic relationship, we must first be whole ourselves. What does it mean to be ‘whole’, exactly? We know who we are, what we have to offer, and where we are going in life.
- No Major Life Changes Within the First Year of Recovery.
This is kind of true, but it needn’t be taken to the extreme that some people take it to. One of the most common ‘wait a year’ myths is that no one should quit smoking within their first year of sobriety.
- Aftercare is Crucial.
This is true – always. However, when we think of aftercare, we tend to think of intensive outpatient therapy, regular appointments with a psychiatrist and addiction therapist, and continuous (maybe even weekly) drug testing. In reality, it may be a lot simpler than all of that.
- Your Only Job is Staying Sober.
Eh… while this a good intentioned piece of advice, it is not necessarily true. Upon hearing this, you may be tempted to think, “Oh, awesome! So I get to sit around, eat potato chips, and watch Netflix all day… just so long as I stay sober. Not the case.
- 90 in 90… and 90 in 90, and 90 in 90.
Attending a meeting every day of your first year may seem somewhat extreme, but it is actually pretty realistic. An hour a day… how much is that, really? For a cost-free program of aftercare, you can’t beat AA. Not only is AA a great way to keep yourself accountable, but you are liable to form an immediate circle of authentic, close-knit friends.
Of course, every recovering individual is different. What works for you may not work for someone else, and vice versa.