Recovering from an addiction can take a lot of work and bring up a lot of emotions. Sometimes, recovery may feel like a battleground, because it’s such an intense re-ordering of the life you have grown used to. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone.
Helpful friends, trained professionals, and peers in different stages of their own recoveries can offer you an invaluable network of support that can encourage, guide, and empower you in your journey to sobriety. Here are some of the ways reaching out and building a community around you can help you in this life-saving journey.
Stage 1: Beyond Denial
The first stage in your recovery is gaining the self-awareness to realize that you have a problem and that you need help. Addiction is fueled by denial, and the brain of an addict can frequently manufacture excuses and justifications that prevent you from needed treatment.It is only after you hit a “bottom” and decide that your life has to change that you begin to recover.
Other people can be extremely helpful in helping you realize the truth about your self and your behavior. You might think your substance use is under control, but an outside perspective can help you realize the extent to which addiction has taken over your life. If someone cares enough about you to express concern about your substance use, listen to them and think carefully, exploring your options to find out what is best for you.
Stage 2: Detoxification
Once you’ve made the decision to stop using, that’s when the work begins. Whether you choose to enter into a rehab center, or attempt to give it up on your own, the time of allowing the substance to leave your system and let your body heal itself can often be very difficult.
You may face a short period of withdrawal symptoms, where your body reacts to doing without a substance on which it has grown dependent. You will need a break from your other commitments, worries, and concerns, a time of focusing only on getting better.
At this stage, other people provide comfort. They let you know that the withdraw, the frustrations, and the strong cravings aren’t going to last forever. Sympathy and perspective from other people can let you know that it will pass, and you will come out stronger. That encouragement can be an indispensable form of empowerment that pushes you to keep going.
Stage 3: Early Recovery
Once the phase of guided withdrawal has ended, you enter back into the “real world,” but with radically new attitudes and approaches. You are searching for ways to live without your chemical crutch. Every aspect of your life must change, and you develop new habits of caring for yourself in all aspects of health and thriving.
The cravings and temptations will still be there, and some people do relapse, and have to be gently guided back into a program. At this stage, community offers accountability. Other people can watch your behavior and gently listen to your thoughts. They can remind you of your commitments, and of what your life was like before you got sober. They can make sure you are you really doing what you need to in order to have a successful recovery.
You can receive guidance in what works for other people, and encouragement that it’s possible for you. The key is to simply live one day, one moment at a time, doing what you need to do to stretch, grow, and continue in recovery. Other people are indispensible in helping you stay on that life-saving path.
Stage 4: Maintenance and Deeper Healing
Recovery never ends. You must continue to live a sober life, and continue to think about your healing. Deeper emotional issues you were burning with your substance may start to rise to the surface, so that you begin to get healing from the pain that partially drove your addiction. Day by day, you will start to uncover ways to continue to build a life filled with purpose, meaning, and enjoyment apart from drugs or alcohol.
At this stage, community can help you live a fulfilling and enjoyable life. Other people can connect you to causes bigger than yourself, give moments of celebration, and help you recognize your inner strength and beauty.