If you want to feel at peace during early sobriety or recovery from drug addiction then you have to put in some effort in order to make that a reality.
Early recovery is basically a roller coaster ride in terms of fluctuating emotions. This is of course on top of the physical effects of withdrawal and the adjustments that your body is attempting to make from a chemical standpoint now that you are off of whatever addictive substance you were taking.
So achieving anything like peace and serenity in early recovery can certainly be a challenge.
That said, there are certain things that you can do in order to move closer to this ideal.
Let’s start with the basics. First of all I would strongly urge you to build your foundation for early recovery inside of an inpatient treatment center–the kind where you go through a medical detox and typically stay for roughly 28 days. There are many reasons that this will help you to find peace in the long run, but one of the most important factors is that you get a protected 28 days of sobriety under your belt. As long as you remain in rehab you are insured of getting that month of sobriety, and this gives you a head start over people who try to “go it alone.”
Second of all, if you go to inpatient treatment, you will learn a number of techniques and strategies for creating peace within yourself as you journey into sobriety. Not only will you learn how to deal with being clean and sober on a day to day basis, but you will also learn various coping skills for dealing with reality when it shows up to be reckoned with. They will also probably introduce you to 12 step meetings and possibly other support tools that can help you as well.
Treatment often will refer you to aftercare. In other words, they will create a plan for you to continue your treatment and therapy after you leave the 28 day program. This is of critical importance–if you fail to follow through with aftercare then you can expect that finding peace and serenity in the long run will be much more difficult, if not impossible.
So those are the basics–go to rehab, follow their advice, go to meetings and therapy and start following directions. I know that doesn’t sound like a fun time to everyone but it is the basic plan that can purchase you freedom and happiness. Looking back at my own journey, I can honestly say that going to treatment and following through was the best thing that I did for myself.
Now as you transition out of treatment you still have a great deal of work to do in order to build a healthy life for yourself in recovery. What you want to do at this point is to engage in personal growth and start to do the work that will allow you to remain clean in the long run. A lot of people leave treatment and then they drift away from the core program and they don’t put in any effort and it leads them to relapse. Obviously we want a different outcome for you.
A lot of spiritual advisors in the world would argue that your natural state of being is to be at peace and content with yourself. The problem is that we have lived a crazy life of addiction and therefore we have created all sorts of drama, fears, resentments, self pity, shame, guilt, and so on. All of those things got piled on to our lives, much of it due to our addiction, and it is those negative things that rob us of our peace and serenity.
Therefore when you get into recovery you cannot just jump up and declare that you are going to embrace peace and serenity today, then wander into the sunset and be happy. If it were that easy then everyone would have done it already.
No, it takes work. And the kind of work that it takes has to do with that laundry list of negative emotions I just mentioned above: fear, anger, resentment, self pity, guilt, shame, and so on.
In recovery, those things do not just magically leave because you quit drinking or quit taking drugs. Those negative emotions and thought patterns are still there, stuck in your mind, and you have to figure out how to deal with them.
Or rather, if you do NOT figure out how to eliminate those negative emotions, then they will likely cause you to drink or take drugs in the future at some point.
So this is what I mean when I say “do the work” in recovery. You have to get with a sponsor, with a therapist, with a counselor, with a spiritual leader, with your peers, with the people in AA and NA, with anyone and everyone who can help you–and then you have to do the work.
So let me give you an example. Let’s say that you often get angry and think about your step father who used to physically abuse you, and much of your drinking was driven by this anger this resentment. So what you would need to do as part of your search for peace in recovery is to figure out how to forgive that stepfather.
And you may realize that you can’t just decide to do so on a whim–it takes more work than that, it takes more effort than that. And so you may have to speak to a therapist, or talk to various people in recovery about forgiveness, and you may have to do some exploratory writing about it, and you may have to put in some real effort. And over a period of weeks or months or even years, you may get to the point where you have forgiven this transgression and let that resentment go. And so you are one step closer to peace.
But this may not be the only negative thing that is swirling around inside of your brain. There may be other work to do as well.
And so that is how you find peace in recovery–by detecting the negative emotions and the negative baggage that is clogging up the mind, and then making a plan to eliminate that stuff and to work through it. If you are not willing to do this work and go to therapy and work the 12 steps and write in a journal and pray about forgiveness and so on and so forth–then you may not get the results that you are looking for.
Achieving peace and serenity demands that you put in the hustle and the work to make it happen. In order to live in peace you have to eliminate the chaos. In order to have serenity you have to be willing to be honest with yourself.
Most of us do not know exactly what this road map looks like when we first get clean and sober. Most of us do not know what work needs to be done within ourselves when we are starting out.
Therefore, your best bet is to ask for help and be open and willing to take suggestions in early recovery. You must be willing to take advice and listen to ideas and then put those ideas into action. It is through this willingness to listen and to learn that you will be able to discover the peace that you desire.