Is it possible to master early recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction? Certainly there are people out there who are constantly failing in spite of their best efforts; people who relapse over and over again within the first few months or even weeks of their recovery.
So how then do you master early recovery? How do you do everything right so that you stay clean and sober, continue to grow as a person, and eventually enter a maintenance phase that is long term sobriety? How does this happen? How does it start successfully?
Well there are probably multiple answers to this, and we can of course generalize, but I will start with my own experience.
First of all, I failed twice before I finally “got it” in early recovery. My first two attempts failed miserably and resulted in less than 30 days of sobriety in each case. Both times, I simply was not ready to stop using drugs and alcohol.
So we could get into the details here, and point out that–for example–I was not following through with my aftercare plan, or that I was not willing to attend 12 step meetings, or whatever. But those details are not the point. The point was, I was not ready to stop using at that time. I wasn’t ready. Plain and simple.
Some time later, after much pain and suffering at the hands of my addiction, I became “ready.” I don’t know how to induce this state of surrender in other people but I do know that it is critical that you attain this state if you are going to master early recovery. Because it is only in this state of absolute surrender that you can get out of your own way enough to allow any solution to work in your life.
There are people who have recovered in the 12 step program, and there are plenty of people out there who are just as addicted and recover through some other means. The program you use to recover is NOT the secret ingredient to mastering your recovery. In fact, it doesn’t really matter at all. What matters is your state of surrender, your level of willingness.
Once you surrender fully to your addiction then everything falls into place naturally. You cannot really fail or screw it up at this point, at least for your initial start in recovery. The reason is because you are now humble enough to take some advice and direction from others. So achieving a deep level of surrender is the only way to really master your early recovery.
Now there comes a point in your early recovery where you sort of get your bearings back. You start to feel better as your detox completes and you might start getting a little cocky. About the only way to screw up your early recovery is to believe that you no longer need any help and that you can do everything on your own. Once you get this attitude or mindset in your head then it can be a quick fall into relapse. Therefore, one of the key things to keep in mind during early recovery is to constantly be seeking advice and counsel from others. Especially from those in recovery that you look up to, people who have what you want, people who are successful in their recovery. Thus the idea if sponsorship can be quite powerful and helpful. Model yourself after the winners in recovery and you will be a winner too.
At some point you will hopefully look back and realize that you are no longer struggling to stay clean and sober every day, and you no longer even have cravings or thoughts of using on a regular basis. It is at that point that you need to work on mastering long term recovery (a process that never ends!).