The first year is the hardest.
Some would say it is the most important, probably because most relapses happen within the first year. When people first enter recovery, their mind and emotions are doing crazy things. Here are a few tips that can help you get through the first year.
1 – Go to Meetings
AA may not be for everyone, but the benefits of 12 step meetings are without question. You don’t have to be a believer, but at the very least meetings will help you build a support system. Having people to talk to is crucial in your first year. Believe me, you don’t want to spend to much time with yourself.
2 – Call People
Just call them. Even if you don’t know why you are talking to them. The more time you spend talking to people about what’s going on, the less alone you will be. You will find that people are more than willing to help.
3 – Pray and Meditate
Many people associate prayer with religion. Be open minded. Prayer is simply a way for you to tap into whatever energy you wish to relate to. Also, you don’t have to be a monk to meditate. Sometimes meditation means just sitting in the quiet by yourself. You will find that the answers will come to you if you are still and silent.
4 – Exercise
There are tons of health benefits to exercising. For early recovery, it may be a way for you to stay busy and stay out of your own head. Going for a run, lifting weights, or even doing yoga will help build your confidence back up and give you a natural “high” of endorphins.
Just don’t over do it. Replacing one addiction with another isn’t what we want.
5 – Help People
If you are going through the steps, we don’t recommend bringing someone else through step work immediately. However, this doesn’t mean you cant help them.
Random acts of kindness, driving people to work who don’t have a car, or even just listening to someone else who needs to talk. When you are helping someone else, you are not thinking about yourself.
6 – Find a Hobby
Everyone is good at something. Many times addiction has kept us from doing what we love. Get back to your art. Start reading again. Get back to writing that book you want. Get back into your love for fashion.
Whatever it is, recovery will give you a chance to get back to what you love to do.
7 – Therapy
Just because you have completed your inpatient treatment, doesn’t mean that you are “cured.” If you have trauma in your past, you will need to deal with it. There is nothing wrong with seeing a therapist.
Everyone can benefit from therapy, there is no reason not to work with a professional if you can.
8 – Find a Mentor
We highly recommend getting a sponsor, if you chose not to do so, than you should still have some kind of mentor.
The fact is, people new in recovery do not know how to stay sober. They might think they do, but they don’t. We must be taught. Find someone who has more experience than you, and learn all you can from that person. They will be happy to help.
9 – Relax
Many times people want to get sober all at once. This is not possible.
Recovery takes time, and there is no final grade. When the moments come that you feel restless and that you want to do something, just take a nap. Getting through the day without picking up is more important than whatever you think you have to do. Trust me…
10 – DON’T PICK UP NO MATTER WHAT
We know it’s cliche. However the time will come when no one will pick up the phone, where reading doesn’t help, and when you just can’t relax. These moments are critical, because it is so easy to slip up.
If you want to stay sober more than you want to use, you will get through this. Your Higher Power may give you strength. Maybe a run will distract you. Maybe eating a bag of chocolate will get you through. Whatever you have to do, just don’t pick up. The feeling will eventually pass and you will have gotten another day clean and sober!
We hope this helps! If anyone else has some good tips for the first year in recovery, please leave your comments for the person who may not know.