Overcoming an addiction can be incredibly challenging. And while the journey to recovery involves taking many steps, the first few are usually the hardest. Regardless of whether or not you follow the twelve steps or other programs, you will quickly realize one critical point: recovery from addiction does not happen overnight, and the road to recovery is a process that requires many purposeful steps toward certain goals.
It is often not enough to merely make the decision to live substance-free. Instead, the process is saturated with many challenges, amazing achievements, and more ups and downs than can be numbered. For this reason, it is imperative to understand beforehand what the steps of recovery look like.
Knowing this is similar to using a roadmap in a car. You will still encounter curves, bumps, and obstacles, but it certainly makes it much easier to find your way and avoid getting lost. The steps of recovery, as described below, offer a sketch of how the process unfolds, and what can be expected and achieved.
Step 1: Admit There Is a Problem
Of all the steps to recovery, admitting that there is a problem is the most essential. While millions of people struggle with addiction, a large number of them will never fully acknowledge the problem. In fact, it’s somewhat natural to justify substance abuse by making excuses—after all, it is a chronic disease that hijacks the brain, and those in its grips continually seek to maintain their habit because they become not only comfortable with it, but dependent upon it.
Ultimately, the only way to make progress is for a person to admit that he or she is struggling with an illness, and admitting that you are sick is the first step toward reclaiming your health, happiness, and long-term sobriety. This action may take place in a variety of forms, but the end result is the same—a person must realize that addiction has complete control over one’s life.
The first step in Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Step Program reads as follows: “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.”
Indeed, this may be the most challenging part of recovery, but it can be the beginning of a new life.
Step 2: Deciding to Make a Change
After a person recognizes that addiction has a harmful impact on one’s life and relationships, the next step is to decide to commit to making the changes necessary for recovery. Indeed, there may be many family members and friends encouraging a loved one toward recovery, but that person alone must initiate the first step in his or her own journey. After doing this, the process of gathering resources can begin, which includes admitting the problem to others and asking for help—a move that can help keep one accountable for beginning to make the changes needed to get sober.
Step 3: Acknowledging the Need for Professional Help and Seeking it
The next step is to fully embrace the fact that you are better of not attempting to recover on your own. Even if you are highly motivated and well aware of your disease, it most definitely helps to undergo professional treatment.
Starting with detox, medical supervision and support are critical. Withdrawal symptoms can be severe, and in some instances, life-threatening, and this is the time when many people relapse if they are left to their own devices. Having healthy providers monitor your health can ensure comfort and safety throughout the process, which can last several days.
After detox, people are urged to transition into a comprehensive rehab program where caring, highly-trained staff members can devise a plan to guide them through recovery. Moreover, recovery often requires more than just abstaining from substance abuse—it also means identifying the root causes of a person’s addiction, addressing any underlying issues, and designing a relapse prevention plan that will be effective.
Thankfully, there are many services available to assist those with substance abuse disorders. In addition to comprehensive treatment programs, there are groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. These groups can provide people with additional support and accountability, and they are often included as part of a rehab program in addition to gatherings at stand-alone venues several times per day.
And there are countless treatment programs to choose from, and many offer an integrated approach featuring evidence-based treatments and therapeutic activities. Ideally, a client can receive both detox and rehab in the same center, making the transition between phases of treatment streamlined and easy.
Step 4: Locate and Make Use of External Support
A major component of a rehab program is aftercare planning, in which professionals will help a person identify external resources they can use on a continuing basis. These may include doctors, psychiatrists, therapies, counseling, and of course, group support. Also, after intensive treatment has been completed, many people go on to participate in outpatient programs that meet a few times per week.
Long-term aftercare can be extremely beneficial in helping people prevent relapse and address issues that could potentially lead to trouble before they get out of hand, such as exposure to stressful events, trauma, or grief.
Step 5: Stay Committed and Continue Making Change in All Areas of Life
After a person has undergone treatment and begins to transition back to the real world, they have to begin to enact the thought process and behaviors that were identified during rehab to promote positive, widespread change.
An essential part of the 12 steps of AA is to address how addiction has affected other areas of one’s life, such as relationships with loved ones or financial and legal troubles. Likewise, severe long-term addiction has likely impacted a person’s physical and mental health. It is vital to work on repairing relationships, regaining strength and health, and recognizing what emotional sobriety must be life.
Doing this may involve a tremendous amount of work and requires developing new skills related to self-control, regulating thoughts and behaviors, and developing a solid support system to safeguard against relapse.
Step 6: Celebrating Milestones in Recovery
The journey to recovery is never really over, but inner strength can continue to increase along the way. While resources are needed to facilitate change and achieve goals, a person’s individual strengths and resilience can be considered a resource. There is no final step in the recovery process, but it is important to celebrate each sober day and acknowledge milestones met during the recovery process.
Start Your Recovery Journey Today
Taking the first steps to long-term sobriety can be challenging, but fortunately, help is available. Just Believe Recovery is a specialized addiction center that offers a full spectrum of care, from detox to partial hospitalization, outpatient programs, and aftercare.
Using a variety of therapeutic services and activities, we are committed to helping people struggling with substance abuse and addiction reclaim their lives and sustain sobriety and wellness over the long-term.
Treatment methods and therapies we offer include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Individual and family counseling
- Group support
- Substance abuse education
- Health and wellness education
- Art, music, and adventure therapy
- Relapse prevention
- Pain management
- Medication-assisted treatment
- Aftercare planning
If you or someone you love is suffering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol, contact us today to discuss treatment options! Discover how we help people get on the road to recovery one step at a time!