Early Addiction Recovery: Surviving The First 90 Days
The first three months of addiction recovery are critical for several reasons – one, it is during this period that most relapses occur. And it’s somewhat understandable – you can’t erase years of substance abuse in just a couple months. You need time to become comfortable practicing coping skills and dealing with everyday stressors without turning to drugs or alcohol.
Second, you may have only recently been discharged from treatment – returning home, and back into a world full of the same people and situations that you mentally and emotionally associate with substance use. Simply put, there is a lot that gets thrown at you.
It may be tempting to rush back into what you might consider normalcy, but in doing so, you run the risk of becoming overwhelmed. Instead, it’s much better to take it slow, and remember that recovery isn’t a race – it’s a long-term journey.
12 Steps To Success: The First 90 Days
1. Create and adhere to a regular, but not overwhelming daily schedule.
Have a clear list of tasks to complete and try to schedule something for most of the day, even if it’s recreational. Activities include waking up, going to bed, meals, work, exercise, support groups, therapy appointments, and leisure or social events such as spending time with friends.
If desired, create blocks of time for holistic practices such as meditation or enjoying hobbies such as reading or painting. You can also use these activities ad hoc to help you cope with and reduce cravings.
By filling up your day, you will be less likely to encounter temptations because you are busy engaging yourself in other, more healthy endeavors.
2. Attend support group meetings frequently.
If you aren’t a fan of 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, there are alternatives such as SmartRecovery or RationalRecovery.
If you can’t find in-person meetings to attend in your area, online meetings are available for many groups.
Some days it may be necessary to miss support group time, while other days multiple meetings may be useful. If any case, don’t skip meetings if you can help it and don’t stay away for very long. Meetings foster accountability to others, and they help remind you where you are in your recovery and that you need to be keeping it a priority.
3. Keep appointments with your doctor, therapist, or counselor.
These professionals are an integral part of your ongoing treatment and aftercare. You may need wellness checkups, medication, continuing mental health care, or all of the above. In any case, schedule and keep appointments whenever possible to not only keep your physical and mental health on track but to promote accountability to others.
5. Create a safe environment.
Design and maintain an environment in which you feel secure, away from substances, paraphernalia, people, and situations that may serve as reminders of your addiction.
For this to be effective, you also have to be able to identify your most dangerous triggers and be able to cope with them when they arise, as they will no matter how good you are at avoiding them. Stressors and temptations cannot be eradicated, but they can be minimized.
If you don’t trust yourself or find you are having difficulty, enlist help from someone who is among your inner circle of support, such as a family member or sponsor.
6. Ask for help and support.
If you have a spouse, parent, best friend, sibling, or someone else close to you that you trust, ask for their help in structuring your environment and developing a routine.
This person can also serve as a protective force against outside temptations, such as old friends coming around who enable or encourage substance abuse.
7. Create a list of goals.
Recovery is best experienced by focusing on the present moment and mindfulness, but planning for the future is also an integral component in sustaining long-term sobriety. Make a list of short-term and long-term goals, beginning from just days to years. Make objectives as specific as you can stand, but it’s also okay to be vague on some points.
Continue to develop and change this list as your life evolves, and fill in any gaps along the way. Note and reflect milestones as they are completed (30 days, six months, one year of sobriety, etc.) as well as any other goals that you achieve that directly affect your life and well-being.
It’s also helpful to identify intermediate steps, particularly for long-term or particularly challenging goals.
8. Be mindful of your physical well-being, including diet, sleep, and physical activity.
Part of your recovery requires you to make sure your nutritional needs and exercise and sleep requirements are met. Early on in recovery, sleeping may be difficult, but it should get better with time. Eating well and exercising alone may be enough to promote improved sleep.
9. Finally, be grateful for each day, and congratulate yourself on your successes and lessons learned.
Be thankful for any support you receive, be it personal or spiritual, and every moment of sobriety. Acknowledging that even the most frustrating days have something positive to offer helps us deal with stress and be more equipped to face tomorrow.
Get Help Today
If you or someone you love is abusing substances, please seek treatment as soon as possible. There are many resources available to help you or your loved one.
Please call us today at 888-380-0342 for a free consultation.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology