In order to succeed in alcoholism treatment you are going to have to set a new course of action in your life. This means that you need to eliminate certain habits and routines from your existing life and replace those with new, healthier habits.
Often times the outside world (meaning non addicts and non alcoholics) believe that recovery or sobriety simply means not drinking any more, walking away from any drug or alcohol use, and generally being “done” with that life forever–as if it is as simple as flipping on and off a light switch.
The reality is that after the alcoholic stops drinking booze every day, they are left with a disease that still tries to manifest itself in other ways, tripping them up and causing them to relapse. The truth is that any alcoholic could potentially “white knuckle it” and stick it out while dry, but that person will be completely miserable unless they are working some kind of recovery program. They may or may not remain sober, but if all they did was to put down the drugs and the booze, then they are going to be very unhappy until they learn a better way to live their life.
So the process of starting out in recovery really begins with the question: “How exactly should I be living my life?” That is what the recovering alcoholic is really struggling with when they attempt to get clean and sober. Sure, they have to actually stop putting alcohol into their body, and they may do things such as going to inpatient treatment or AA meetings, but they are still going to be facing this question at some point in their journey, which essentially amounts to: “Now that I no longer define my life in terms of getting drunk or high all the time (“partying” if you will), then how exactly do I define myself?”
So in order to set a new course of action in recovery you need to clear out a space for this new action to occur. What this means is that you must let go of the old life before you can start sculpting your new life. I have found that the most reliable way for this to happen for most people is through a trip to inpatient rehab, typically of the 28 day variety. Going to inpatient treatment gives you a chance to “reset” your life so that you are then able to start out on a new course. Those who purposely avoid treatment are going to struggle to be able to turn their life around with any real degree of success. While inpatient rehab is not a sure fire cure, it is definitely the best possible path for most people who are struggling with substance abuse. Inpatient gives you the most advantages compared with most other treatment solutions. This is likely because inpatient treatment encompasses most other treatment solutions such as counseling, therapy, peer support, aftercare services, group therapy, 12 step support, and so on.
So after you have (hopefully) taken the smart advice to attend an inpatient treatment center, your next step is to figure out how to transition out to the “real world” and somehow make your life work now that you are sober. One of the things that you are going to notice very quickly is that your life will seem to revolve around solving problems. During this time of early recovery, you must remind yourself to stay grateful because the set of problems that you are now solving in life have been drastically upgraded.
You used to worry about having enough drugs or booze, avoiding the police while breaking various laws, and generally trying to keep yourself alive in spite of the massive amount of abuse that you are putting your body through due to your addiction. Those were some serious problems and they had real consequences for a lot of struggling addicts and alcoholics. If you are one of the lucky few individuals who somehow made the leap into addiction recovery, then you know that you still have problems in your life today, but those problems are seriously different now. Today you have to worry about a job perhaps, getting to an AA meeting in the evening, and helping out a newcomer with their fourth and fifth step next weekend. You still have problems but they are not nearly as bad as your problems were during active addiction, and that is a huge blessing. You would do well to remember that these upgraded problems are actually a blessing in your life and not a curse.
So in order to set a course of action in recovery you need to first set a direction. That direction should come from a decision that you make, possibly with the help of a therapist or a sponsor in recovery, and that decision should be based on getting the biggest bang for your “personal growth buck” so to speak.
Which is another way of saying that all of us have various problems, hang ups, and defects that we could be working on fixing right now. Whichever thing that you have would provide the most freedom and relief in your life is the thing that you should work on next.
In the very beginning that “thing” was to get clean and sober, to go through detox, and to start living sober. Let’s assume that you have done that, or that you are set to do that. What next?
What happens next is that you start to assess your life. You start to work with recovery coaches, peer support, AA and NA members, sponsors, and therapists in order to figure out what your next change is that you need to make. Look for your “pain points,” try to figure out what is causing the bulk of your anxiety or unhappiness lately, and then zero in on fixing whatever that is.
You may need some advice or guidance in order to determine what your next big priority in recovery should be. Take the time to analyze and determine this with the help of others.
Once you have your next objective, your plan should be to gather as much information as possible in terms of conquering that particular problem, and then testing out advice and strategies that you receive in order to make the necessary changes. You may need to seek advice from your sponsor, your therapist, or from people in AA and NA meetings. You may need to test more than one solution before you stumble on the thing that works best for you. But you persist in this goal and you keep hammering away at it until you fix the issue that is causing you anxiety or grief in your life.
Then you simply reset and it over again–analyze your life and find the biggest pain point, all over again. Then make another plan, gather more advice, find others who have conquered this same problem for themselves, and get to work at it. You should not tolerate having problems, anxiety, or loss of freedom in your life. If you want to set a new course of action then you simply need to make the decision, start asking for help, and set the goal that you want to achieve. You can get through sobriety this way and improve your life a great deal to boot. Good luck!