Early addiction recovery can be very tricky. Not only is there a presenting problem or crisis related to drugs and alcohol, there are the years of emotions that have been avoided, the fractured family relationships, and feelings of failure. Most addicts and alcoholics have squandered talents, opportunities, and potential. This can be scary and frustrating to loved ones who feel torn between fear and resentment. On one hand, a parent may want to lock a young drug abuser away until he or she “grows up” enough to understand the ramifications of his or her actions. On the other hand, a parent may feel that any lengths that need to be gone to in order to keep the child alive are worth it. These emotions can be crippling.
What Actually Happens In Early Recovery?
A simple way to understand the beginning stages of sobriety is to look at what parts of a person are truly affected by alcoholism and addiction. The short answer is: all aspects of a person are damaged. There are physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences. All of these areas have to be addressed patiently. Abstinence alone does not fix the problem, this is merely physical. “Finding God” is very difficult for someone who is under foreign management. Going to therapy and “getting to the root of it” does not motivate someone abusing drugs and alcohol to change. He or she is usually aware of many of the issues at hand. It generally takes 2-3 weeks for a recovering addict to begin “feeling.” Early abstinence; once the angst of not using passes, leads the newly sober person to feel better. This good feeling doesn’t last very long. Once the addict begins to experience emotions he or she tends to become filled with anxiety, frustration, and fear.
The Solution Is Spiritual
Twelve step recovery is predicated on an understanding of a Higher Power. Whether this begins as the love of an empathetic group of people, a traditional religious concept of God, or some other form of spirituality it is critical for an addict to begin this process. A person new in recovery needs hope. He or she needs genuine love and concern. He or she relies on the awareness that addiction and alcoholism can be overcome. This spiritual contact provides the motivation to walk through the challenge of facing difficult problems. Once a spiritual foundation is established much of the emotional work can begin. This is when introspection, therapy, and development of more effective coping mechanisms takes place.
How Long Does It Take?
Good recovery never ends. For an alcoholic, addict, or substance abuser the journey is ongoing. This is not depressing. This is an awareness that as long as someone is willing to take an honest look at his or her life, opportunities for growth will always arise. This experience is liberating and filled with joy. The knowledge and life skills developed in sobriety provide a better understanding of success, happiness, and healthy relationships. Rather than put a time frame on “when will it get better”, understand that as soon as someone commits his or her self to recovery, life begins to get better. Everyone involved needs patience and a compassionate perspective. The rewards that come from real sobriety are incalculable.