Addiction recovery is not only about kicking the compulsive habit; in fact, that is only the first step. The road to recovery is a long one, and it’s about getting and maintaining a healthy mental state and living with contentment while staying clean and sober. With long term recovery, there is no rush to make drastic changes, it is a gradual, step by step process. To successfully achieve and maintain long term recovery, here are some things to consider and implement.
- Having a vision
Anyone in addiction needs to have a vision for their life. It is understandable that this can be a very hard thing to do even without an addiction problem. It is, however, far more important for people in recovery to have a vision and create goals for their future. These goals will serve as beacons that keep pushing them forwards. Goals, visions and missions serve as footholds for anyone in recovery, keeping you focused and set on a course of action. Without them, it is easy to return to the addictive process. You might need to travel, immerse yourself in books and other activities just to get clues of where your drive, interests and passion may lie. It gets even better when you start to achieve some of your set goals, it does a lot to bolster your self-esteem and keep you surefooted on the recovery road.
- Looking outside recovery
Yes, you are in long term recovery but that is not the sum total of your existence. You need to develop interests that lie outside of recovery. Explore new hobbies, places, interest and opportunities that are not directly linked to you staying sober or in recovery. Engage in more fun activities and live a little more. Exploring things outside recovery has two benefits. The first is that it makes your life richer and makes recovery easier to bear and a bit more exciting to go through. The second is that it will help you with the first point above. When you immerse yourself in non-recovery related activities, you might stumble on things that will guide you in your vision and goal setting.
- Keeping a value system
The human nature has an inbuilt sense of right wrong, so while some specific values vary from person to person, other basic things are constant with us all. You need to match your actions to a value system to help you stick to your sense of right and wrong. Sticking with it is the main thing here because if your actions start to go against your value system, it will build feelings of grief and shame in you. And these negative feelings can drive you into a relapse. Ensuring this balance between values and actions might require you to restructure some parts of your life or modify your behaviour, but it is worth it.
- Danger signs of relapse
You must always watch out for signs of relapse. People do not just suddenly relapse, it is a gradual process that starts long before the actual moment you pick up the habit the again. Some road signs to relapse to watch out for include:
- A change in your daily routine. (Have you suddenly stopped your morning jogs?)
- Getting angry often (Does it take little these days to set you off?)
- Getting stressed frequently (Are you seemingly in a constant stressed state?)
- False confidence about your recovery (Are you complacent about your recovery?)
- Remembering you are only human
It is so easy for us to put so much pressure on ourselves in a quest to excel or be perfect. Go easy on yourself and remember that progress and development are the goals here, not perfection. After all, you are only human, and none of us can be perfect. Accept your quirks and faults and learn to stop judging yourself too harshly.
Strive to live a wholesome, happy and fun life.