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7 Things You Will Want to Avoid During the First Year of Recovery


recoveryOnce you get beyond the first year in recovery, your chances of staying sober long-term greatly increase. You can expect these first few months to be challenging at times as you adjust to this new way of life. There are things, though, that you could do that would make this period of change particularly difficult. Below we have listed seven things you will want to avoid.

1. Switching to a New Addiction

It is sad, but many people go to all the trouble of breaking away from one addiction only to switch to a new one. This does not only include turning to a new form of substance abuse but also other non-chemical addictions such as internet addiction, gambling, porn addiction, workaholism, or exercise addiction.

The motive behind all types of addiction is an unwillingness to deal with reality. Until you are able to deal with life on life’s terms, you will keep on making the same mistakes repeatedly. Switching addictions would not improve your life – it just means exchanging one form of misery for another one. The other danger with new addictions is they often lead to relapse because it means you are not going to enjoy your new life.

2. Believing You Are Cured of Your Addiction Problems

Giving up alcohol or drugs does not mean all of your problems are over. Going to rehab is not going to cure you, it is just the first step on a path that you need to follow for the rest of your life. It doesn’t matter how long you stay away from a substance you have become addicted to, it just takes one drink or drug, and you can be right back where you started. It is therefore vital that you always make recovery your number one priority in life, continuing to take steps to strengthen your sobriety. If you start to take your recovery for granted, or decide that you are cured, you will be at high risk of relapse.

Some people who have broken away from addiction like to refer to themselves as ‘recovering’ rather than ‘recovered’. This can be a way for you to keep reminding yourself that you are not cured.

3. Making Major Changes to Your Life in the First Year

You have taken a major step by breaking away from alcohol or drugs, and will take time for you to settle into this new life. A change like this is always going to involve at least a little stress, so the last thing you want to do is to make life any more difficult for yourself. This means that you should avoid making any major changes to your life during this delicate first year; changes such as moving house, changing jobs, starting a business, getting a divorce, moving to a new country, having a baby, or going to university. It may be the case that you really do need to make a major change to your life, but you want to avoid it if you possibly can.

4. Beginning a New Relationship in the First Year of Recovery

One of the worst mistakes you can make in early recovery is to run headlong into a new romantic relationship. The process of adapting to sober living already involves an emotional roller coaster, and adding a new romance into the mix often proves disastrous. It is vital that you make sobriety your focus during these early months, so a new relationship is going to be too distracting. There is also the risk that the stress of a breakup or bumpy romance could easily send you running back to alcohol or drugs.

Another reason why it is important to avoid a relationship during the first year is that your ability to make good decisions might not yet have been restored. It is common for newly sober people to choose inappropriate partners because they feel so vulnerable and have not yet managed to build up their self-esteem. Keeping away from the dating scene for a year might sound like a big commitment, but it really is not a long time. By doing this, you will be far more likely to enjoy a healthy relationship later on.

5. Going It Alone In Recovery

A minority of people do manage to cope well in recovery without any additional support, but it could also be a huge mistake. The most common reason why people relapse is that they do not have enough support; it is always going to be better to have too much support than too little. If you go it alone, it will be hard to remain motivated, which means that you will not be able to learn from the experience of people who have already achieved what you want to achieve. Even if you decide that you want to go it alone later on, it is strongly recommended that you get plenty of support during that difficult first year.

There are many support options for individuals in early recovery. The easiest option is a recovery fellowship, which are free to use and available every day of the week. There might also be the option of outpatient group therapy or some other type of rehab aftercare programme. If you can build up a network of sober friends, this is also a great way to take care of your support needs.

6. Continuing to Engage in Negative Behaviours and Thinking Patterns

In Alcoholics Anonymous, they talk about dry drunks. This refers to an individual who is physically sober, but in many ways still carries on as if they were still in the midst of addiction. The dry drunk is usually full of negativity and anger, sometimes engaging in unethical behaviours. Those who do fall into the category of ‘dry drunk’ are getting the bare minimal in recovery; even if they manage to stay sober, they are unlikely to have a fulfilling life. It is therefore vital that you make the effort to eliminate any negative behaviours and to eradicate any thinking patterns that are holding you back in life. One of the benefits of following a programme like the 12-steps is that it is designed to prevent you from becoming a dry drunk. You can also use a therapist to help you eliminate unhelpful thinking patterns.

7. Putting Yourself in Dangerous Situation

They say that if you sit in a barbershop for long enough, you will eventually get your haircut. What this means is that if you continue to spend time in pubs or around people who are drinking or using drugs, the chances are that you are going to relapse soon. Putting yourself in this type of situation is always going to be a gamble; it is just not worth the risk. When you have established a more solid recovery, you may be strong enough to occasionally attend functions where people are drinking alcohol; this is not something you are likely to be ready for in the first year.

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