A lot of people have a skewed perception of what recovery from substance misuse really is. They may think that the day they enter treatment and stop engaging in drug or alcohol use is the day that they are finished on their road to recovery. Some may view this as the day they achieved sobriety. While seeking treatment is a courageous and incredibly important step, it is not the last step. This is because recovery is not something that you are ever done working on. It is a lifelong journey, not a destination. It is a choice that you have to make every single day for the rest of your life.
This might seem scary or overwhelming at first, but it doesn’t have to be. Essentially, learning to view recovery as a long-term journey instead of a one-day event can actually help make the experience all the more gratifying. It can also help you to learn a lot more about yourself and improve yourself along the way.
Being Present in Recovery
So many people struggle with either living in the past and dwelling on old mistakes or stressing about the future, over events they don’t yet have control over. A significant part of the recovery journey is learning how to live in the present and take things one day at a time. It’s easy to focus on the endgame, which is lifelong sobriety following treatment. However, it’s important to not focus so heavily on that lest you forget to do the daily things necessary to ensure long-term recovery is possible.
These things involve learning new ways to manage stress in a productive way, developing techniques for coping with negative emotions without turning back to substance misuse, and keeping up with your continued care plan. This plan, typically put together by your treatment provider, likely involves therapy, regular support group meetings, and lifestyle changes.
You might be thinking to yourself, “Why do I have to keep worrying about these things? I’ve already chosen to get sober and made it through treatment. I don’t want to engage in substance misuse anymore, aren’t I done now?” The truth is that with recovery, you’re never really “done.”
This is due to the fact that we simply can’t predict the future, and we don’t know what challenges may come along the way. For example, you might feel fully in control and confident in your sobriety one day, only to experience something that totally threatens it the next. This could include anything from the unexpected death of a loved one, to the loss of a job or financial struggle. It is because of this that it is so important to continue to put in the work each day to ensure that you are fully prepared for anything the future could hold.
The Highs and Lows of Recovery
As is the case with any journey, you can expect there to be highs and lows. There will be times when you feel on top of the world and fully in control of your sobriety. But there may also be times when you’re doubting yourself or feel like giving up entirely. Part of the reason that recovery is referred to as a journey is that there are many cases in that relapse occurs. If you experience a relapse, it doesn’t mean that you are a bad person. It also doesn’t mean that treatment has failed. It just means that you need to re-evaluate things and make some changes moving forward in order to get back on track.
There are many, many people that experience a relapse at some point in their recovery journey but make the decision to pick themselves up and try again. When you look at relapse as an obstacle along the way of an ongoing journey, it can really help to put what recovery is into perspective. Consider someone who is running a marathon, totally confident that they can win the race, but maybe, after only a few miles in, they take a fall and suffer an injury. Maybe this injury compromises the rest of their journey or makes them feel as if they are unable to continue.
Just because this individual has experienced a setback doesn’t mean that the whole race is over or that they can’t still accomplish the outcome they were hoping for. Something has just changed, and adjustments must be made to fit that change.
The same thing happens when relapse occurs. It doesn’t mean that long-term recovery is no longer possible; it just means that changes need to be made. When you view relapse as a temporary setback and not something that is holding you back from achieving long-term recovery, everything can change. Part of the recovery journey involves learning to forgive yourself and give yourself grace when these things occur.
Recovery is a journey and not a destination in the sense that it is not something you simply accomplish one day and that’s it. Recovery is a lifelong journey that you must choose day after day for the rest of your life. This journey may contain both peaks and valleys, but it is still worth it. In fact, it is probably the most meaningful journey you will go on in all your life. If you’re struggling with substance misuse and are ready to get help, The Ho Tai Way is a great option. Call us at (714) 581-3974 today to learn more about the types of treatment that we offer.