People often don't know what to expect during their first year of recovery. They may wonder about how their friends and family will treat them when they get back from treatment. They might be concerned about going back to work. Their biggest concern may be if they can take what they've learned in rehab and put it to practical use when the inevitable triggers come their way. All people are different in their first year of recovery. What's the most important thing they can do? Remember to stay sober just for today, sometimes just for this moment, and the rest will fall into place.
If you're in your first year of getting sober, depression is going to hit when you least expect it. The best thing you can do is be prepared for it. The weeks or months after leaving treatment and beginning recovery may seem euphoric. This is commonly referred to as the pink cloud, and it doesn't last forever. Eventually, your mind will catch up to you and depression will set in. This is virtually unavoidable because when you maintain your sobriety, the serotonin in your brain must regain equilibrium. During the time that your brain is healing you may become depressed. The drugs or alcohol that you were using were numbing you from certain feelings and tampering with your brain chemistry, so part of the healing process is when the chemicals begin to balance out.
Most addicts have issues with their self-image and self-esteem, so it's easy to have negative self-talk and believe you're not good enough. While in 12-step meetings, you may hear incredible stories about how others are still on their pink cloud and how they had the best year ever when they got sober. This may make you feel "less than", but you need to remember that everyone has different experiences. Do your best not to compare your experiences with someone else's. Each day that you stay clean is the most important day of your life, and you need to congratulate yourself every evening for being able to stay sober that day.
It would be wonderful if everyone stayed sober during their first year of recovery, but that doesn't always happen. Relapse rates are high, and that's because addiction is one of the most powerful mental illnesses. Do your best to recognize the signs of relapse long before they start in order to avoid them, but if you do relapse, don't give up. Have a plan to go back to treatment if necessary so you don't get stuck in the never-ending clutches of addiction once again. Always remember, there's still hope to recover after a relapse. Don't give up. Freedom From Addiction can help you.
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