Once you’ve decided that you’re ready to begin the process of recovery, you have already taken an important first step toward becoming a healthier, happier person. If you’re looking forward to recovery and are feeling that your end goal is a million miles away however, know that the process of quitting addiction is not a single leap, but a series of small, manageable steps. Know that you can succeed with your addiction recovery by focusing on individual, manageable accomplishments, until you have met your final goal.
Step One: Decide to Change
The first step to addiction recovery is deciding that you need to change your behavior. If you have made this decision, keep your motivation in the front of your mind. Whether you want to be a better parent for your child or just want to feel healthier and happier day to day for yourself, hold onto your motivation and be proud that you have committed to positive change.
Step Two: Find Help
No one expects you to manage your addiction and recovery on your own. Professional treatment facilities, counselors, and support groups are available to help those who have committed to recovery. Spend time researching different treatment options and be sure to select the one that meets your needs from a time, location, intensity, financial, and addiction specialty perspective.
Step Three: Embrace the Support of Friends and Family
Let your friends and family know that you have set a goal to quit your addiction. With the support of your loved ones, you will have an important support system around you that will help you make continual progress. Understand that if you have friends and family in your life that share your addiction, but not your commitment to recovery, you will need to be sure that your support network includes a number of sober individuals. These are the supporters that you will need to turn to when you are feeling tempted by your addiction. Those who are not ready to commit to a similar recovery plan may be unable to support you in the way that you need.
Step Four: Retrain Your Brain
Your recovery plan will need to include the development of new habits and ways of thinking to replace your behavior of addiction. For example, if you previously turned to your addiction on days when you were feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, depressed, or sad, you will need to retrain your brain to manage these feelings with a different type of coping behavior. Perhaps meditation, or the help of a support group member could fill the void where your addiction used to reside.
Step Five: Learn Avoidance Strategies
Do not be hard on yourself if even after the successful completion of your recovery plan, you still have moments of temptation. The best way to control temptation is to avoid the places, people, environments, and scenarios that leave you feeling most vulnerable to the cravings of your addiction. To help reduce your exposure to such triggers:
- Avoid places like bars, clubs, and parties where you previously frequently accessed and abused the substance of your addiction.
- Distance yourself from those individuals who have not also committed to recovery.
- Be honest with people in your life about your history of addiction. You should not feel ashamed to tell a new friend that you cannot go with him to happy hour because you are in the process of recovery. Be proud of the control you have over your addiction and accept the praise and support of those around you.
- It is especially important to be honest with your physician and any other health care providers so that they can properly support you and provide effective care. Your health history may impact prescription medications and treatment plans that your doctor prescribes to treat future medical conditions or illnesses.
Step Six: Fill Your Life with Positive Influences
Once you have removed your addiction from your life, you will have the time and space for new hobbies and friends. Use your new resources to get involved with a cause, organization, or activity that you enjoy and that supports your new, healthy lifestyle. Participation in an activity that brings you happiness will be an important aspect of your overall health and wellbeing; and individuals who maintain an overall healthier lifestyle are more likely to remain sober and less likely to relapse into their addiction.
Step Seven: Say I’m Sorry – to Yourself
Though this is the last step it is by no means the least important. In order to truly master your recovery, you must forgive yourself if you do have a setback. Instead of allowing your relapse to interrupt or halt your progress, use it as a learning experience. Contact your chosen recovery treatment center, program, or support group and allow them to help you re-engage your treatment plan and continue your path to recovery.
While addiction recovery is a huge accomplishment, it does not have to feel like a huge, unconquerable challenge. With the help of friends and loved ones who support your goals and believe in your will, and with the help of health care professionals in your community, you can make the journey to recovery in small, manageable and meaningful steps.
And you can always call our 24/7 hope line for help now.