In recovery, there’s no one-size-fits-all formula for success. Everyone is still an individual, and although some tools work for some folks, for others they don’t. That’s why people share their experience, strength, and hope at support meetings. Some ideas work well for some people, but other approaches just don’t. (Take what you need, and leave the rest!)
So if you ask anyone in recovery (from anything) “What do you think was the top key to success?” you will get many different answers. People will give credit to treatment centers, friends, sponsors, medication-assisted treatment and a variety of other tools.
However, there are some things that most people in recovery have in common when it comes to changing their lives.
Here are five important things that people often cite when talking about how they got clean and found a new way of life:
- Discover a sense of hope. When you go to a twelve-step meeting, it’s essential that you listen to other peoples’ stories. This is where you can find hope. There are also countless stories in AA and NA literature, online groups, and other recovery forums that can let you know that you’re not alone, and people like you DO recover. No one is too “bad off” or “not good enough” to seek recovery. Everyone is welcome.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Many people feel a sense of shame and stigma when they’re in recovery, but when you’ve admitted you have a problem, there’s help available. Use your support network and ask questions whenever you’re stumped. If you feel like you may have a mental illness or health problem besides your addiction, seek help for that, as well. Recovery is about becoming healthy in mind, body and spirit. Don’t let yourself suffer in silence when there are so many people who want to help you succeed.
- Learn more about addiction. Many people come into treatment or 12-step groups without a basic understanding of how and why they are dependent on drugs and/or alcohol. Take the time to understand the physical parts of addiction, and the changes that take place in your brain. Harvard has some great information on the physical aspects of addiction. In treatment or therapy, you can learn more about the triggers that make you want to use, and new coping skills to help you battle that desire.
- Get help and support when you need it. Keep in touch with people in 12-step programs, and decide which family members and friends you can rely on if you’re hurting or struggling. Sometimes life will get tough and you’ll just need a shoulder to cry on. Others in recovery can share their experience and strength when you pick up the phone. Don’t get off the phone until you have a plan for what you’re doing next, like going to a meeting or watching a movie.
- Discover what you’ve been missing out on. The world that you avoided while using or drinking is full of wonder. Reconnect with your hobbies such as going to movies. Find new hobbies by taking classes, reading books, or watching videos online. There are so many great things to do and see; now is your time to embrace them, clean and sober. Invite your friends from recovery or family to enjoy them with you. Recovery can be a lot of work but it should also include some fun.
Recovery is a journey, not a destination, but you get to make a lot of choices along the way. If you’re feeling bad, reach out to people who understand and want to help you make the right decisions. There are plenty of other things that can help you along the way, but the above keys to success will make life a lot easier as you advance in your recovery. Enjoy the little things that you discover along the way!
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