“It makes me so happy. To be at the beginning again, knowing almost nothing…. It’s the best possible time of being alive, when almost everything you thought you knew is wrong.”
– Tom Stoppard, British playwright and author of “Arcadia”
The first step you take when you finally leave the addiction rehab center, having said your goodbyes to the doctors and staff that cared for you (and that quite possibly saved your life, too, for that matter), is the very first significant step you have taken since initially seeking the professional treatment for your substance abuse.
It may just be the beginning of a completely new life for you, a brand-new start, and a new road to travel – only this time in a positive direction. A truly wonderful feeling, so big, big congratulations for getting there.
However, that’s enough of the praise. No more. Why? Because it will all count for a big, big fat zero if you fail to restructure your life, and make the fundamental, significant changes that your recovery from addiction demands and, ultimately, deserves.
Yes, failure to do this, to restructure what really didn’t work out so well before (isn’t that the truth…), will only lead to the failure of everything that your new life is only just now showing you possible glimpses of. And where would that leave you? On your way to a new and much worse place than where your substance abuse first led you. That, as they say, is a given.
Let’s be honest here. We have all been in situations where if we had put in a little more practice and a little more planning, we would have gotten the result we wanted. It’s kind of simply not being arsed to do what we need to, especially if everyone (we presume) wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t quite get there, or we plain failed anyway.
However, recovery from a previous existence of substance addiction is one of those life experiences where it’s not about what anyone else thinks or presumes. Let them think whatever, even if that includes people you used to be close to.
No, the honest truth of a situation like this is reasonably simple. Recover, and the world will be the place you always dreamed it might be. Fail, and there’s a good chance you’ll die. Nothing to do with anyone else at all – just you. And that is why restructuring the important elements of your life is so essential and intrinsic to your overall recovery.
To that end, here are a few timely pieces of advice on beginning your recovery journey:
- In recovery, everything will feel very different, and that’s a good thing;
- There are a number of unknowns – situations, events, even people – that are difficult to plan around. So, don’t get yourself wrapped up in unnecessary details, and;
- There is no need to feel overwhelmed, scared or intimidated by what may lay ahead of you. Recovery is a brilliant opportunity for those who suffer with either substance or alcohol use disorder (SUD/AUD) – grasp it, hold it close to you, and don’t give it up for anything or anyone else.
Now, here are your “4 Tips for Restructuring Your Life During Recovery.”
Accepting Your Life Needs Fundamental Restructuring
Full, complete recovery from either SUD or AUD (or both…) requires that you make significant changes to the way you have lived your life previously, and to give your way of living the fundamental restructuring that your addiction recovery demands.
Unfortunately, human beings hate change, if they were honest. In fact, the real truth is actually as plain as day – we’re a little frightened and unsure of the unknown. Often, scared and panicky, in reality. Here’s a prime example of change-avoidance here:
Remember when you actually began addiction treatment, and finally began the process of recovery that has led you to where you are now? Back then, you had absolutely no idea whether even this stage of the process – either at the Colorado rehab center or the outpatient rehab Denver or elsewhere – would be successful. However, you knew you had to do something, because of the truly terrifying alternative of doing nothing, and of continuing as you were.
Sound familiar? For sure, because you are now presented with a similar choice – to carry out this fundamental restructure of how you live, and move on with your recovery, or… to return to a way of life that was clearly unmanageable.
Accept that your life needs fundamental restructuring? Simply tick the mental checkbox for acceptance and move on.
Preparation: The Real Secret of Addiction Recovery
The old adage “Fail to prepare, so prepare to fail” surely comes to mind here. That’s recovery from addiction in a nutshell: P – R – E – P – A – R – A – T – I – O – N.
During your rehab, you will have been advised on (and even helped with) making a Relapse Prevention Plan for your new clean and sober life. Everything you need to protect yourself and prevent possible relapses will be there, in some form or another – what relapse triggers are particularly dangerous for you, situations where you will need support, and exactly what to do in the event of an actual relapse, to name but a few topics included in the plan.
That same high level of preparation and planning is required for deciding how best to restructure your life. So, apply your very best due diligence to make sure any changes you are preparing for are stable and safe ones.
If you are able, decide on all of the fundamental changes that need to be made to ensure your recovery has only the very best chance of success. As an example, this may include such things as:
- Changing your job, or changing your work routine, e.g. from full time to part time (or vice versa);
- Dropping friends (and even family members) that present a threat to your sobriety;
- Developing new sober friendships;
- Establishing an enjoyable daily routine that includes both “chores” and “having fun”;
- Moving to a different area;
- Attending support groups, such as 12-Step program meetings;
- Focusing on new pastimes and hobbies;
- Making positive changes to your fitness and nutrition.
It really is up to you as to exactly what is on your list of needed changes; however, you may still benefit from some input from those around you who know you well – trusted family members and trusted friends.
Time for a Family Meeting
According to numerous addiction treatment studies, you are more likely to achieve success in your recovery if you have the backing and support of close family members and friends. With this in mind, it is pertinent to discuss your future plans with these people, as they may well be in a position to offer encouragement, suggestions, and valuable support as you go through the restructuring process.
For those among you that are married (or, more accurately, still married), discussing your plans for your new future with your husband or wife is obviously of paramount importance. Likewise, if you’re the adolescent or teen in the family that is suffering with either SUD or AUD, your parents will clearly want their say in the next stage of your life.
Recovery is not an easy journey to be traveled. You will certainly need the encouragement, love, and support of your family and close friends, especially if or when the going begins to get tough. In fact, family involvement and close friendships in your recovery can often prove pivotal, and can even be the difference between success or failure.
Recovery is a Long, Long Hike – Don’t Hike Alone
Addiction leads to isolation, an inescapable feeling of being utterly alone, even when you’re in a crowd of people. Because of this, many people feel addiction makes them unique in some way. Absolute and utter $4!T!!! Thinks you’ll get the gist of that… Nonsense, in another, more polite word. It is everything about you, not including your addiction, that makes you unique, and any addiction forces you to forget that.
Why do people regularly attend AA and NA group meetings as they journey through recovery? To destroy that feeling of isolation, to feel a sense of shared togetherness with a common aim, and to discover new people who have stood in your shoes, and who have made the journey you now face.
Yes, recovery is like a long hike around Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. Please don’t hike alone. In fact, why not take up hiking? Or take up a new physical challenge, as a way to get yourself back in shape? Again, you’ll meet like-minded people. Whatever you decide upon, make sure you surround yourself with supportive people who are walking the same trail.
A completely new life for you, a brand new start, and a new road to travel – only this time in a positive direction… Would you simply pass up the opportunity, the real chance of all of this, and more, because you failed to put in the preparatory work? Or that you didn’t have the time? No, of course you wouldn’t.
By addressing and following the above 4 tips for restructuring your life during recovery, you can give yourself and that opportunity the very best chance at success:
- Accepting Your Life Needs Fundamental Restructuring;
- Preparation: The Real Secret of Addiction Recovery;
- Time for a Family Meeting;
- Recovery is a Long, Long Hike – Don’t Hike Alone.
Best wishes and good luck to you all.