When you’re riding that natural high of getting clean and feeling as if you can take on the world, your self-assuredness can cause another set of problems. Some people in the early stages of sobriety may feel like they’re cured of their addiction problem. The truth is that an addict or alcoholic will always be one, and he or she must work on it daily in order to stay sober. There is no magic solution that makes you turn the corner and never return to drugs or alcohol.
Unfortunately, people can make mistakes early in recovery when they have the attitude that they are “cured.” Let’s take a look at some of the common ones so that relapse can be avoided.
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Mistakes Commonly Made in Early Sobriety
1. Not taking enough time.
Recovery isn’t an overnight process. It takes time to learn how to live without drugs or alcohol. Some people think that, after 28 or 30 days of treatment, they don’t have to continue doing the work. It can take time to fully understand how to apply coping methods to real life. In order to have a successful recovery, you have to build a solid foundation on which to start. Give yourself time to build it piece by piece.
2. Visiting old stomping grounds.
While it may not be realistic to completely avoid the places you used to go when you used drugs or drank, they should be avoided if at all possible. If you knew that there was a hidden hole in the ground near the fence, would you purposely walk over it, knowing there’s a chance you’ll slip and fall? The same goes for visiting the places you used to hang out before you became sober. In time you may be able to visit, but in the early stages of your sobriety, don’t give yourself the temptation.
3. Seeing old addict friends or drinking buddies.
Getting sober may mean you lose the majority of your friends if they were addicts, too. While you may want to reach out to them to help them, or to see how they are doing, it may not be best to put yourself in those situations right away. If you start reminiscing about the good times, which were probably when you were using or drinking, you may start longing to go back to those times, even though you know it’s not the right thing to do.
4. Not attending therapy or group meetings.
If part of your treatment was seeing a therapist individually or going to group meetings, it was probably suggested that you continue to go after treatment. Having a support group is important in your recovery. The solid foundation you need to build includes having people around who can help you through the tough times.
5. Thinking the hard part is over.
Getting clean was probably difficult, especially if you experienced physical withdrawal, but the hard part is not over. The physical symptoms subside, but the mental cravings and the habits you developed are still going to tempt you. Learning to deal with them, along with learning better ways to deal with life’s troubles, is going to require work. Recovery isn’t a one-time process. It’s ongoing. Acknowledging that it will be a work in progress can help you from becoming complacent in your recovery.
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