Is Recovery My Whole Life Now?

Entering treatment can bring lots of changes and demands to your life. The first few months might feel like a massive project. You need to work with health professionals to manage withdrawal symptoms during detox. You are fighting through cravings. You are actively participating in the activities the treatment center has to keep you engaged. You are expected to show up at 12-step meetings and group therapy. All of these demands may seem so daunting that you suspect that life will continue like this from now on. 

Coming out of active addiction may feel like coming out of a cave. Drugs or alcohol used to dominate your life, but now they are gone. You are scrambling to fill that void by doing “healthy” things. It takes time to adjust to a change of lifestyle. Admittedly, many factors make the process disorienting and even debilitating. But remember the direction all these activities are leading — for you to reclaim life. If past experiences have taught you anything, it is that the “freedom” granted by substance use in the past is nothing like the true freedom you are experiencing in recovery. 

How Long Does Recovery Take?

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines recovery as “a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives and strive to reach their full potential.” Full recovery means that you can live a self-directed life. Until that day, you are always in recovery mode. It is important to manage your expectations and treat the goal of recovery as a holistic, long-term one. It simply means living to the fullest, and that is a goal worth pursuing.

Along this journey, there are bound to be bumps and setbacks. You might experience recovery burnout and despair. There can even be a relapse. Hopefully, you can get back on the right track again. Recovery also means that you reinvent a self-image and rebuild a social life. Mending broken relationships and avoiding unhealthy relationships are not easy, but all of these are part of recovery. There is simply no shortcut. The earlier you realize this, the better off you are with how to adjust expectations.

Why Does Recovery Take So Long?

Recovery takes a long time because your addictive habits have become hardwired over the years. Addiction is considered a brain disease because it rewires the neurological pathways and affects brain anatomy. Some of your organs might suffer from damage from chronic use of substances too. Apart from these physiological effects, addiction has also wreaked havoc on your emotional and mental states. It takes time for both the body and the mind to heal.

Despite this long-term perspective on addiction and recovery, you can make short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals. This helps manage your expectations and also enhances a positive outlook on the whole journey. Your short-term goals need to be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. Your long-term goals can be guided by the principles of honesty, humility, and wholeness.

How Do I Have a Life During Recovery?

Life is how you live it. Do you think that you had a life when using drugs and alcohol? Were you getting along with family and friends? Every recovering individual regrets how years of life have slipped through their fingers. You arrived at this moment of awakening: recovery is the only way you can claim back your life. 

Having a life means that you are in touch with yourself. Usually, addiction takes a toll on one’s self-esteem and self-image. You need to overcome these emotional insecurities and embrace yourself. That is the beginning of having a life — a life of self-care and self-compassion. Some simple exercises in the morning, such as affirmation meditation, can help you begin a day with an optimistic view of the self. A more profound kind of optimism is resilience. The American Psychological Association (APA) defines “resilience” as the process of adaptation during adversity, loss, trauma, and significant stress. Allow resilience to guide your long-term goal. 

What Should I Change About My Expectations?

Managing your expectations is a constant battle. Allow your expectations to be guided by this wisdom: you need to let go in order to regain control of your life. This letting go means allowing the trajectory of recovery to have flexibility. It would help if you also let others take care of you. It may feel defeated, but you reap the fruit of much more freedom. 

The path towards full recovery is also a journey to restore great characters for you personally. These include honesty, humility, patience, and self-control. You have to know that years of addiction have changed you into a different person and that it takes time for your true self to heal and re-emerge.

How long will recovery take? Why am I making such slow progress? Is it likely that I am going to get my life back at all? Treatment and recovery can be very demanding. The feeling that life is all about recovery at the expense of other fun things is familiar to many recovering individuals, but you need to get better before getting your life back. It is essential to manage your expectations in the early stage of recovery so that this can become a sustainable direction for you. At South Florida Intervention, our experienced interventionists have helped many people design treatment plans towards sustainable recovery. After helping many people to recover, we know the importance of maintaining motivation and managing expectations. We want to encourage and walk alongside you. We are here to explain whatever question you may have. Our intervention services include recovering coaching, parent coaching, case management, and sober escort. Call us at (202) 390-2273.