When a person begins their journey into addiction recovery, they will likely anticipate and expect many things, but it is clear from the millions that walked that path before them that addiction recovery is a consistent battle. Sure, life will get better and fuller, but not without work. Think about the work that was involved with getting high every day. At that time, though, most addicts just go through the motions and never stop to consider the efforts that go into making this happen. It is the same with addiction recovery; just go through the motions and keep making it happen. It promises to be worth it.

The first year is the beginning of the journey but be aware that the journey is a long one into recovery. It is this first year that is the most difficult for everyone. Each person’s recovery will be different, so each person’s efforts will have to be different as well. There are several things that one might expect during this first year in addiction recovery. However, knowing what to look for can alleviate some of the stress.

Be joyed, even ecstatic that you have made it through the withdrawal phase of your addiction recovery. Now, you will have to battle the post-acute withdrawal symptoms during your first year of recovery. This is a result of your brain attempting to repair the damage that was caused during your active addiction. This will consist of the inability to think clearly, difficulty handling emotions, problems identifying stress, insomnia, and difficulties with memory and physical coordination.

The most effective way to battle this is with a very resilient support network. The treatment center that you attended will usually offer alumni support, so go ahead and use it. Listen to what the professionals have to say and other people who have been in addiction recovery longer than you. Fully utilize addiction fellowships, group counseling, therapy, and doctors to your advantage. You must be willing to ask for help when you need it.

Emotions will run rampant that first year, especially depression and overconfidence. They are extremely vital to address.  Depression is common, especially in the first few weeks of addiction recovery. If it lasts much longer than that, or if it’s so severe that you’re having thoughts of suicide or self-harm, you should talk to your therapist or another mental health professional as soon as possible.

Sometime during that first year, you may start to feel overconfident. You could believe that you are doing so well that you do not need anyone’s help.  Overconfidence is dangerous because you can take your focus off of your addiction recovery, and you will be more likely to relapse.

Another thing that will help is keeping a routine. Be sure to include things like therapy, fellowship meetings, and time for meditation because these things can make adjusting much easier. Spontaneity is dangerous during the first year. You should also be careful not to take on more responsibilities than you can handle. One of the best pieces of advice for people in their first year in addiction recovery is to avoid making any unnecessary major life changes, like moving or changing jobs.

The reason for this is that thoughts are muddled during this time. You need to learn and practice healthy decision-making, which often starts by deciding to avoid people, places, or things that you associate with drugs or alcohol and that could threaten your addiction recovery.


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