Don’t Neglect Ongoing Recovery
By Clint Fletcher
Recovery is so much more than the one-time act of escaping the clutches of substance abuse. It’s a way of life. It’s about learning to think and behave differently and adopting a lifestyle of emotional growth and healing. Sobriety is the beginning stage of something much bigger and more positive than you ever could’ve imagined.
Unfortunately, many of us lose our way while attempting to adopt this new mentality. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), relapse rates for substance abuse disorders are 40 to 60%. However, this also means that 40 to 60% of people in recovery stay sober as well. Sometimes, the difference is simply being able to build consistency in sobriety and having the tools to make it happen.
Connection is Key
There are many moving parts to a life in recovery, and sobriety comes first. That often requires treatment, whether on an inpatient or outpatient basis. Upon completion of a program, it doesn’t mean you’re healed, though, and your addiction is behind you. It’s just the beginning.
It’s extremely important that you stay connected with others who are on the same path. It’s easy to become isolated after getting sober because you’re re-entering a world where most people aren’t beginning the recovery life. Maybe your family members drink, maybe your friends and co-workers still drink or use recreational drugs. Some of them will understand what you’re going through and others will not. Either way, you have to take action and surround yourself with people who are experiencing the same circumstances and can provide support.
Those of us that developed a substance problem ended up that way because we needed to escape. We likely have past trauma or emotional wounds we never healed from, and our life experiences led us to an extremely negative way of thinking. Most of us became uncomfortable in our own skin, and so we turned to alcohol and drugs to numb those negative thoughts and feelings of pain.
Though we acquire tremendously helpful tools in treatment, all this negative stuff rolling around in our heads doesn’t magically go away after completing treatment. Spending time with others in recovery will allow you to get those thoughts and feelings out in the open and confront them by talking about them.
People with addiction issues may experience a “loud head” after getting sober. Talking about what you’re going through takes away its power internally and quiets your mind. It allows you to connect and form positive relationships with other people by getting out own of your own head and hearing how others are dealing with the same struggles or obstacles you’re facing.
Successful Recovery Takes Planning
Recovery is all about taking action. If you form a plan in the beginning and stick to it, everything will become second nature after a while. As a matter of fact, it becomes fun. There are a variety of options for you to choose from, but here are some of the most popular ways to connect.
Attend meetings. This is the #1 weapon in your arsenal. There’s an anonymous meeting for just about every addiction in existence and they happen every single day and night of the year. Work all day and take care of family at night? Go on your lunch break. Live in a rural area? Call in to a phone meeting. (Yes, there are phone meetings!)
Get a sponsor. If you don’t already have a sponsor, get one ASAP. Sponsors are people that are on the same path as you but further ahead. Imagine you’re both on a treacherous winding trail, and someone’s up ahead warning you on a walkie talkie of what’s coming up, such as sharp branches and poison ivy to avoid. Sponsors can guide you through your daily experiences, work the steps with you, and hold you accountable.
Sponsor someone yourself. Speaking of working the steps, getting a “sponsee” and taking them through the steps all over again is very rewarding. You’ll see everything from a different angle in regard to your own recovery, and giving back brings a tremendous sense of self-worth. It’s also a great way to get out of your head. You can pay it forward by keeping another accountable just as someone does for you.
Go to therapy. If you went to treatment at a Meadows Outpatient Center or elsewhere, your therapist may have helped you set up an aftercare therapy plan. Regardless, there are dozens of therapists in every metropolitan area that specialize in addictive issues. Even if you don’t have insurance, try to work it into your budget. It’s just as important to continue to address the underlying disorders that caused your addictive behavior as it is to refrain from using substances.
Go to alumni groups. One of the many benefits of completing treatment is the added bonus of free alumni meetings. Most treatment organizations offer monthly alumni groups, but Meadows Behavioral Healthcare welcomes back their alumni weekly. This is a great way to stay connected to friends and staff of your treatment program who are happy to continue lending support.
Getting to the Root of the Problem
The Meadows Outpatient Centers go beyond simply treating substance use disorders. Our staff is also trained to address emotional trauma and employ scientific methods to help ensure not just short-term sobriety but lasting recovery. In our cutting-edge Brain Center patients can take part in neurofeedback sessions as part of their treatment. Also known as EEG biofeedback, neurofeedback trains the brain to function more efficiently. This form of self-regulation training allow you to gain more control of your central nervous system, a tool that will benefit your ongoing recovery. Also available in the Brain Center are biofeedback, cranio-electro stimulation, heart-rate variability, and chi machines.
The Meadows Outpatient Center has locations in the Silicon Valley, Dallas, and Scottsdale, Arizona. If you’re struggling with your recovery, in danger of relapse or in need of treatment for the first time, call our intake specialists to discuss treatment options.