You're probably a little familiar with what happens during the recovery process over the first few weeks, but how does that process continue and what can you expect over the first year of seeking sobriety?
Everyone is Different
You've heard it before but it is worth repeating. Your recovery process will be different from anyone else who is in recovery. Your own treatment will progress along with your tailored program specifically designed for you, and accordingly, the pace of your recovery will be very much dependent on how you work it. In other words, while you can look at how others are doing, you can't compare your recovery to theirs. Each person's is unique.
Depression is Common
Many people experience feelings of depression over the early stages of recovery. When depression occurs, it can not only interfere with your recovery but also your ability to participate in treatment. Depression can disrupt concentration, drive, and energy, harboring the recovery process. Don't be overly distressed about feeling blue during the first few weeks of recovery. If the condition lasts considerably longer, or your feelings begin to worsen, talk to your doctor or therapist immediately, they are here for a reason and your recovery and well being is their first priority. As you begin to get more involved and active in working your recovery, your thoughts will tend to be focused more on the doing and less on the thinking of negative and depressing thoughts.
Adjust to Scheduling
Becoming accustomed to scheduling your time is critically important to getting your recovery jump started. Since this is an all-new period of sobriety for you, you'll feel confused, disoriented, fearful, and unsure during this time. That's what your meetings and therapy sessions are for. Schedule them as much as you need during the first few weeks and ease your mind to get you back on track to working your recovery. If you have a job, returning to it, or continuing with it, will be stressful for a while. Give yourself time to adjust, don't go overboard by tackling projects and assignment all at once; attempting to do too much too soon is a recipe for relapse.
When you're six months into recovery and things have been going smoothly for you, it's quite possible that you might start feeling overconfident. You may think, for example, you can take a chance and go out with your former drinking buddies again...just once. Don't be tempted, it's not worth the risk. Just resolve to stay sober today and live in the present. Resist the temptation to think that you can handle cravings and urges that will come your way if you put yourself in harm's way. Just do what you need to do today for your recovery, greet each day with positive outlook and keep working your recovery.
Lastly, at nine months to one year things should be smoothed out quite a bit. By now, you know the danger signs, the people, places, and things you have to avoid because of their association with addiction. Don't succumb to the thought that you've figured out the whole recovery thing and can slack off a little. One way to derail recovery is to stop doing the work you need to be doing. This leads to the relapse dangers. Although it's more likely to occur during the first 90 days of recovery, the danger of relapse is always there. The only way to guard against relapse is to face each day as a new day to recover. Understand there will be good days and bad days, and either can happen at any month.
The longer you are clean and sober, the less likely you'll have a major relapse. If you do slip, you've got ready access to a solid support network that can help you get back on your feet again. A slip or relapse isn't the end of the world; it's not a failure either. It just means you need to work even harder.