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How to Start Again in Recovery


People can end up losing a lot before they become willing to end their addiction problems. This means that when they enter recovery it can feel as if they are starting from nothing. The individual may have spent most of their teenage years and all of adulthood so far trapped in addiction, and this will have consequences. It can mean that the individual is estranged from their family, and they may be unemployable by the time they give up alcohol or drugs. The fact that the individual can have so many handicaps at the beginning of their recovery can mean that sober living feels daunting. The good news is that the individual will almost certainly be able to start again. They will not only be able to reclaim much of what has been lost, but they will also be able to take their life in a complete new and better direction. Here are just a few tips for starting again in recovery.

Have Realistic Expectations

It is vital that people have realistic expectations in recovery or else they will become frustrated and disappointed. The individual will be able to start again and build a good life, but this is not going to happen overnight – it takes time. There is also likely to be times in recovery when the individual feels that they are not making much progress or that they are even going backwards – sometimes you need to take a few steps backwards in order to be able to sprint ahead. If the individual knows that rebuilding their life is going to take energy and time, they will be less likely to develop unrealistic expectations. It will mean that they will be able to do what needs to be done with the understanding that they are taking part in a process. Spending time with people who are more advanced in recovery can be beneficial because it helps the individual understand what might lie ahead for them.

Loved Ones Do Not Have to Forgive

The aspect of recovery that the individual has least control over is other people. The individual may become sober, completely turn their life around, and still find that there are friends or loved ones who will not forgive them. It may even be necessary for the person to accept that some of these relationships are beyond repair. The reality is that when people are trapped in addiction, they can cause a great deal of suffering for other people, and these individuals are under no obligation to offer forgiveness. All the sober person can do is to keep on living the best life they can and maybe one day this other person will become willing to repair the relationship. It can be hard to accept the loss of a friendship, but sometimes there is just no other option. It does not mean that the individual will be unable to build a good life in recovery.

Progress Not Perfection

When the individual becomes sober they will be faced by the wreckage of their past. It can all feel completely overwhelming, and the individual may despair that they will ever be able to make a worthwhile life out of this mess. The worst thing that the person can try to do at this stage is to try to fix their life all at once – this is not going to happen. It took years for the individual to bring things to this state, and it can take years to repair everything. If the person tries to fix everything at once it will just be too much for them, and they may use their frustrations as a justification for relapse. What the individual needs to understand is that the way recovery works is by progress and not perfection. They begin by fixing the problems that are most pressing and when they have sorted this out they can then move onto the next problem. It will take time but this slow and steady pace will allow the individual to rebuild a life that is really worth living.

Rebuild Your Self Esteem

The process of addiction robs people of their self-esteem/self-worth. This means that they can be lacking in motivation and be prepared to accept very little in life. In order to break away from addiction and find success it will be vital for the person to rebuild their self-esteem. This is something that can be easily achieved over time. The individual begins by setting themselves small achievable goals, and when they make these a reality, the individual will get a boost to their self-esteem. Soon they will feel able to tackle more ambitious goals, and success here will boost their self-esteem even further.

Consider a Return to Education

If the individual has poor qualifications, and is finding it hard to find work, their best option might be to return to education. Mature student are now very common, and it really can provide the individual with a second chance in life. There are plenty of examples of people who recovered from addiction and returned to education so they were able to gain some qualifications. Some of these individuals were people who had practically no academic paperwork, but they eventually went on to complete a PhD. Returning to education offers an exciting opportunity for the individual to really change things in their life. It is certainly something that is at least worth considering. It may be best to wait about a year into recovery before taking on this commitment – it all depends on the individual and the strength of their recovery.

Keep a Journal

It is recommended that people keep a journal where they record their progress. The reason for doing this is that it can be so easy for the individual to ignore the progress they are making in life. This failure to appreciate just how far they have come, and how well they are doing, can mean that the individual feels disappointed with their progress. The reality is that when things improve in our life we can quickly take it for granted, and we can always be focused on the things that are missing in our life. This failure to appreciate the progress already made in life can mean that the individual can always feel as if there is something lacking.

Set Goals

It is important that people have goals to work towards in recovery, and that they take action to achieve these goals. Tackling a big goal can be far less daunting if the individual breaks it down into smaller goals. The other benefit of doing things this way is that every time the individual achieves one of these small goals is that it gives them a boost so that they are better able to achieve the next small goal. If the individual is persistent with these small goals, they will eventually achieve their overall goal. It is vital that all goals are realistic and clear (e.g., it is better to have a precise goal like “lose 5 pounds” than an imprecise goal like “lose some weight”). Another thing that the individual will usually want to do is set some type of time limit for achieving the goal – otherwise they may just keep on procrastinating.

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