Recovery for addicts & alcoholics
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Recovery Time

The End of Addiction One   of   the   questions   that   people   considering   giving   up   an   addiction   will   have   is   how   long   it   will   take   them   to   recover?   This   is   a   reasonable question   but   providing   an   exact   answer   to   it   will   be   difficult.   First   of   all   it   would   need   to   be   determined   what   they   meant   by   recover.   There is   no   doubt   that   the   life   of   the   individual   can   improve   as   soon   as   they   give   up   alcohol   or   drugs,   but   it   can   take   a   bit   longer   for   them   to build   the   type   of   life   they   desire.   After   all,   the   fall   into   addiction   will   not   have   happened   overnight   so   it   is   unreasonable   to   expect   the recovery   to   happen   instantly.   By   ending   the   addiction   the   individual   will   have   taken   the   crucial   first   step   on   a   path   that   can   lead   them   to true happiness. What it Means to Recover from an Addiction It is difficult to determine a time frame for addiction recovery because: It   is   not   clear   what   is   meant   by   addiction   recovery.   If   people   mean   by   this   that   they   will   be   able   to   drink   or   use   drugs   normally   again then   such   a   recovery   will   probably   never   be   possible   –   if   they   mean   just   no   longer   using   alcohol   or   drugs   then   they   will   have recovered as soon as they stop this behavior. It   is   often   said   that   addiction   is   a   process   and   not   an   event.   This   is   because   what   people   mean   by   the   word   recovery   tends   to   be much more than just physical sobriety. When   people   say   that   they   have   recovered   from   an   addiction   it   does   not   mean   that   they   are   completely   cured.   This   is   because   if they   relapse   they   will   be   right   back   where   they   started   –   this   is   why   some   people   prefer   to   use   the   term   recovering   rather   than recovered. Even people who have been sober for decades can still relapse back to substance abuse. Recovered or Recovering from Addiction The   subject   of   whether   people   are   recovered   or   recovering   from   an   addiction   can   be   the   cause   of   a   good   deal   of   debate   within   the recovery   community.   Those   who   follow   the   12   Step   approach   view   addiction   as   an   incurable   disease   where   only   a   remission   is   possible for   the   individual   –   this   is   why   they   prefer   to   use   the   word   recovering.   Groups   such   as   Rational   Recovery   would   argue   that   by   giving   up   the behavior   the   individual   will   have   already   recovered   from   it.   They   would   even   go   on   to   say   that   by   holding   onto   the   label   of   recoveringthe individual   may   be   making   things   harder   for   themselves   and   increasing   their   own   risk   of   relapse.   Others   might   argue   that   how   the   person refers   to   themselves   is   not   that   important   so   long   as   they   do   what   needs   to   be   done   to   keep   their   sobriety   on   track   –   at   the   end   of   the   day these   labels   are   just   words.   It   is   therefore   up   to   each   individual   to   decide   if   they   wish   to   consider   themselves   recovering   or   recovered.   The main thing is that they accept that no matter which label they use they will not be able to drink alcohol or use drugs again. Recovery is a Process Not an Event It   is   often   stated   that   recovery   is   a   process   and   not   an   event.   The   idea   here   is   to   emphasize   the   fact   that   giving   up   alcohol   or   drugs   is   only the   start   of   the   journey   towards   a   successful   life.   It   is   the   vital   first   step   but   there   will   be   plenty   more   work   ahead.   The   type   of   challenges that people will face after they become sober include: Rebuilding   relationships   that   have   been   harmed   because   of   the   substance   abuse.   It   can   take   many   years   to   get   back   the   trust   and respect that have been lost because of the downward spiral into addiction. One   of   the   early   challenges   that   many   people   face   in   recovery   is   the   transition   from   rehab   to   home.   This   can   be   when   people   are most vulnerable to relapse so they need to prepare for a smooth transition with appropriate aftercare. When   people   are   addicted   to   drinking   alcohol   or   using   drugs   their   life   will   revolve   around   these   substances.   This   means   that   when they   become   sober   they   will   need   to   find   a   new   meaning   and   purpose   –   this   is   vital   because   a   life   that   lacks   these   qualities   will   be unsatisfying. One   of   the   most   usual   reasons   for   why   people   fall   into   addiction   in   the   first   place   is   because   they   feel   unable   to   cope   with   life.   This means that in recovery they will need to develop new more effective coping strategies. Boredom   is   a   common   relapse   trigger   for   people   in   recovery   so   the   individual   will   need   to   find   ways   of   avoiding   this.   In   order   to   do this the person will need to find new activities they enjoy with which they can spend their free time. Walking   away   from   substance   abuse   usually   means   leaving   behind   drinking   or   drug   using   friends.   This   means   that   the   individual will need to build a new social network in recovery. It   is   likely   that   the   individual   will   have   to   face   old   challenges   –   things   that   they   have   tried   to   avoid   dealing   with   by   turning   to   alcohol or   drugs.   The   person   usually   finds   that   dealing   with   these   things   is   nowhere   near   as   difficult   as   they   once   thought,   and   the   rewards of doing so are high. Sobriety   is   also   sure   to   mean   facing   new   challenges.   It   is   helpful   to   view   these   as   opportunities   to   grow   rather   than   as   obstacles   in the path. Dealing   with   character   flaws   is   the   work   of   a   lifetime,   but   it   is   important   that   people   begin   work   on   overcoming   these   because   it   will be these flaws that drove them into addiction in the first place. People   who   have   been   addicted   to   alcohol   or   drugs   will   often   have   harmed   their   careers.   It   can   take   time   and   effort   to   undo   this damage so that they can rebuild their career. Completing Rehab Is Just the Beginning When   people   complete   a   rehab   program   it   can   feel   as   if   they   have   graduated.   While   these   people   do   deserve   to   feel   proud   it   is   vital   that they   keep   things   in   proportion.   The   purpose   of   these   inpatient   treatment   programs   is   not   to   cure   addiction   –   the   aim   is   to   give   the individual   a   firm   foundation   on   which   to   build   their   future   sober   life.   If   they   leave   rehab   and   fail   to   do   additional   work   they   are   unlikely   to find success and will be at risk of relapse. This is why it can be better to consider the final day in rehab as just the beginning. Time It Takes to Recovery and the Stages of Recovery To   give   people   a   better   idea   of   the   time   it   takes   to   recover   from   an   addiction   it   can   be   helpful   to   break   the   process   down   into   stages. These phases of recovery include: The individual acknowledges that they have a problem. They become willing to change. The individual will take action to end their addiction such as entering rehab. Early recovery involves learning the skills needed to stay sober – much of this work can be done in rehab. Abstinence   maintenance   means   taking   all   the   steps   necessary   to   stay   sober.   This   can   include   things   like   aftercare   and   building   a support network. After   about   two   years   the   individual   will   enter   advanced   recovery.   By   now   they   will   be   used   to   living   a   good   life   away   from   alcohol and drugs, and many of the things they need to do to remain sober will be done automatically. Emotional   sobriety   comes   after   many   years   of   facing   challenges   and   overcoming   these.   When   the   individual   is   emotionally   sober they rarely (if ever) have to deal with overwhelming emotions. Some   people   would   say   that   the   final   stage   of   recovery   is   serenity.   This   refers   to   an   inner   calmness   and   happiness   that   the individual   enjoys   no   matter   what   is   happening   in   their   life   –   it   was   the   search   for   this   feeling   of   inner   peace   that   drove   many   people into substance abuse in the first place.