A person is considered to be in the early stages of recovery for the first three to twelve months of sobriety. This time period is a critical stage in the recovery journey, as the highest incidence of relapse happens within the first 90 days of abstinence.
Unsuccessfully managing triggers is one of the biggest threats to sobriety. Avoiding known trigger situations, such as people, places, situations, and events associated with past addictive behavior is best, especially during early recovery. Because triggers cannot always be avoided, however, it’s crucial for those at all stages of recovery to continuously work on their relapse prevention plan.
While completion of an addiction treatment program is a great accomplishment, you need to continually adhere to your recovery plan to maintain long-term sobriety and the highest quality of life.
Recovery Expectations and Avoiding Relapse
It’s important to keep your early recovery expectations realistic. Simply being substance free for a period of time is not enough to ensure long-term sobriety. Early recovery means working hard to manage triggers, reinforce coping skills, and practice a healthy lifestyle. Eventually, these practices will become deeply ingrained within you.
If you are in early recovery, you are probably experiencing conflicting emotions, including excitement, uncertainty, fear, self-doubt, and more.
Here are some steps you can take to keep your recovery on track and decrease the risk of relapse. If you do experience a relapse, do not view it as a failure, but instead as an opportunity to reassess your recovery plan and make needed changes.
- Set short and long-term goals: plan where you want to be a few months from now, as well as a few years from now. Regularly review all the benefits of living a sober life.
- Pre-plan your day: center each day around activities you wish to accomplish. Schedule things like exercise time, meditation time, and other plans. Practice gratitude each day.
- Commit to a healthy lifestyle: Practice yoga, meditation, mindfulness, or other stress reduction strategies, exercise regularly, get sufficient sleep, eat nutritious meals, and drink lots of water. Self-care should be the foundation of your recovery plan.
- Manage Cravings: cravings are natural, but typically don’t last long. Distract yourself with an enjoyable activity, talking to a supportive friend or sponsor, prayer or mediation, or another coping strategy.
- Make Sober Friends: regularly attend a 12-step or other support group. You will widen your sober support network as you continue to learn from others in recovery.
- Have Fun: explore the countless ways to have fun as a sober person. Express your creative side through different art mediums, dance, music or writing, play with your kids, keep a gratitude journal, take up a sport or hobby, learn something new for free on YouTube or another free internet source, teach or volunteer or commune with nature. The possibilities are endless.
Recovery is the most important journey of your life. The more you stick to your recovery plan, the more successful you can expect to be.
Turning Point of Tampa has been offering Licensed Residential Treatment for Addiction, Eating Disorders and Dual Diagnosis in Tampa since 1987.