Feb 4, 2016 | By Tim Powers

The Importance of Self-Care In Recovery



If you have completed a drug treatment program, you realize that a brave new world awaits you–and it can fill your mind with uncertainty, doubt and even fear. You have poured every ounce of effort and determination in addressing your addiction, and now it is time to utilize the tools that you were given while in rehab and use them in real time. Once you are back home and back into the routine of everyday life, it doesn’t take long to discover there is a night and day difference between getting sober and staying sober.

While your time in drug treatment had its share of obstacles, you could count on the fact that you were in a secure environment and you had the constant presence and support of counselors and your recovering peers. Now that you are back in your home environment, the emotions that you feel, the challenges you face and the opportunities that lie ahead can easily overwhelm you. If you stay stuck in the spin cycle of these experiences it can make you physically, psychologically and spiritually weary–and it can lead you back to relapse.

It’s A Jungle Out There…

Coming back to reality while new in recovery can feel like you are walking in the jungle with triggers lurking around every corner. Clearing a solid path towards recovery and avoiding the dangers of relapse in a world of temptation with practicing effective self-care. Self-care in recovery is THE foundation for your recovery…period. If you lack the skills need to adequately take care of your basic needs and obligations, chances are very high that you will remain stuck in the vicious cycle of addiction–and your problems will only grow worse over time.

The importance of self-care in recovery is emphasized heavily during your time in treatment. Along with detoxification and therapy, you spent considerable time learning essential life and coping skills, through aftercare and sober living you were immersed in relapse prevention education–all for the specific purpose of giving you the tools you need to effectively take care of yourself and important obligations while refining and strengthening your individual plan of recovery in real time.

In all honesty, it is hard to see far ahead into your future when you are going through drug treatment. When you are in the safe and structured environment of a rehab facility, you are learning about the disease of addiction and its’ complex roots. After awhile, you become used to the daily agenda of your drug treatment program.

Now that you are out of treatment and back home, you are no longer in that structured environment and are more or less free to do what you need to do on a daily basis. While it can feel liberating to be in recovery in your home environment, you can experience quite the shock when reality is hitting you from all directions. It is at this time when the importance of self-care comes to the forefront, and you need to adopt a mindset of change. While you have already changed a tremendous deal during drug rehab, you must continue to believe that change is good–even during the most trying times of your early recovery.

Time to Prepare, Refine, and Understand All The Aspects of Self-Care

Once you are out of treatment and start getting in a routine, it is highly suggested that you look at the recovery plan that was created during treatment. The process of preparing and refining your plan of recovery is an ongoing basis and will change as you progress in your recovery and as things unfold in your life.

If there is one important thing that you need to remember during this critical first few weeks of recovery is to not overload yourself. During this early period of recovery outside the treatment facility, you will certainly feel overwhelmed with not only resuming your family, work or school obligations–you will also be contending with triggers of your environment.

In evaluating your self-care regimen, you will realize that self-care goes beyond eating right and exercising. On her website Soul Warriors, life coach Liz Connors lays out six categories of self-care:

  • Physicalcare for your body (everything from sleep to sex to seeing the dentist)
  • Emotionalcare for your feelings (acknowledging & processing feelings, changing distressing situations)
  • Mentalcare for your mind (the interesting new book, meditation, games, challenges, flow)
  • Spiritualcare for your spirit (a worship community, a cause greater than you, nature)
  • Socialcare for your relationships (friends who get you, family time, lunch with your coworkers)
  • Practical: maintenance care that supports your life (financial, housekeeping, car registration)

When you are just starting your recovery journey outside of treatment, these categories seem like a lot to remember. It is important to remember that the life skills and relapse prevention education you underwent during your time in rehab cover these self-care categories. As you continue to grow into your sobriety, you will be able to know which of the above categories you are strong in and which ones you need to add.

Will you know what tomorrow brings? The obvious answer to that is no, but in a way that can work to your advantage. Some of the greatest discoveries that you will make in your life are those that are unexpected. When you open yourself up to the possibilities of whatever is out there for you, you will see what areas of your life need to change.

6 responses to “The Importance of Self-Care In Recovery

  • Just got out of treatment, 7 months. Really hard to get back in the world. Glad I found this site for support.

  • Hi Tim, I love your articles which are specific to addressing womens needs in recovery as I believe the treatment industry often neglects these needs women and especially mothers have. Hazelden recently published my book “A Sober Mom’s Guide to Recovery – Taking Care of Yourself to Take Care of Your Kids.”
    It has 26 short topics like: guilt, shame, exhaustion, supermom, hitting bottom, dating, drama mama and many other topics with tools at the end of each chapter to help address the issue. My book has already helped thousands of women, mothers and families. I’d love to write an article for Sober Nation and or if you want to use my book as a ‘giveaway’ I’m happy to do that. I can be reached at 415-264-0078 or rosemary@rocrecoveryservices.com. You can also check out my website for more info
    rocrecoveryservices.com cheers

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