A Guide to Your First Year in Recovery

The first year of sobriety is very tough.  Most relapses happen during this time frame so it is very important to go into this phase with a game plan.  Just keep in mind that everyone is different.  What works best for one person may not be the best fit for another.  There is no specific plan that works for everyone, but it is very important to sit down and think about how to best tackle this first year.  There will be good times and bad.  Some days will be easy and others will be very rough.  Yet it will all be worth it when life gets better and better without substance abuse.  Here are a few things to expect and tips for having a successful first year of sobriety.

Surround Yourself With Like-Minded People

Go to meetings.  Even if it feels like meetings are not for you, 12 step meetings are proven to be helpful.  If nothing else, attending AA meetings will help to build a support system.  It is very important to have people to talk to in the first year.  Tell your story, listen to others, and find inspiration from those who have been where you are before.

Get a sponsor to work with and some phone numbers so you have someone to call when you need to talk.  This could just be to check in, someone to talk to when you are feeling lonely, someone who can talk you down when you are really tempted to use or drink, or someone to help you get through the phases of detox.

Find Healthy Ways to Spend Your Time

Work will likely take up much of your time, but what about the rest of it?  Think about times when you may be tempted to use and fill in the calendar with healthy activities.  Go to the gym or find a group class.  Exercise is a great way to blow off steam and get natural endorphins going.  Who knows, maybe you will even meet some great people to spend some time with and work out with regularly.

Also, consider starting a new hobby.  Take that painting class you have always wanted to try, head to the library to check out that book you have always wanted to read or get into an outdoor activity.  Hiking, gardening, and fly-fishing help to feel connected to nature and to a higher power.

Further, connect with a higher power through prayer or meditation.  It is important to spend some time in peace and quiet with yourself.  Get to know the real you and seek the answers you are looking for.

Also, consider scheduling some therapy sessions.  This is especially important if there is trauma in your past and some issues you need to work though.  If nothing else, it is a healthy option for getting things on your schedule that will give your life structure.

Find a Way to Help Others and Take Care of Yourself

Helping people gets us out of our own heads and thinking about others.  Help that friend of yours who needs extra muscles for moving across town.  Find an organization in town to volunteer with regularly.  Offer to be available to take a phone call from someone else that needs to talk.  Doing things for others makes us feel good about ourselves.

Continue feeling good about yourself by taking care of yourself.  As mentioned, exercise regularly and also work on eating healthy food and getting enough sleep.  These are very important for helping your body to work through detoxification, especially early on.  Take the time to relax and rejuvenate.  Go to the spa if that is what you like.  Otherwise, veg out and watch a movie, listen to music, or go play fetch with your dog.

Addiction and the recovery process is not the same for everyone, just remember that you do not have to go through it alone.  Surround yourself with good people who want to see you succeed.  Create a plan that will work for you to help fight the urge to use or drink.  A sober life is a much better life.  Making the decision to get clean is the first step and most important step.  The first year of recovery will be tough, but each year after that will get better and better.   Contact us for help today!

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