Recovery from an addiction to drugs or alcohol is a long journey. Different parts of the year can present unique challenges for one’s sobriety. While it is important to address recovery one day at a time when it comes to managing one’s emotional state and daily goals, it can also help to create a roadmap for the year to come. Looking at an entire year can help an individual set pertinent, achievable goals while also preparing for certain hurdles that can surface during the first sober year.
This first year can be the most difficult and transformative part of one’s recovery journey. While having graduated from a detox, residential, or sober living program is a testament to one’s dedication, setting a roadmap for the year to come can help to cope with any stressors that come up in the future.
Expect Difficulties and Hurdles
Throughout the first year of sobriety, there may be a lot of change and uncertainty. While this can be intimidating, it is important to accept that one’s recovery journey, whether inside or outside of a recovery facility, is going to contain challenges.
Even after an individual has graduated from a treatment program and is continuing outpatient recovery and living on their own, emotional highs and lows will be constant. Expecting oneself to be wholly over addiction at the end of treatment can leave an individual ill-prepared to cope with other difficulties that may still be a part of one’s life.
It is important to expect that some days will be filled with more anxiety than others. Some days will bring about cravings to re-engage with addictive substances. Other times depression and guilt can still surface. Regardless of the time of year, it is important to remain vigilant in order to address these hurdles going forward. If you can anticipate these hurdles in advance, you can prepare yourself to face them in a way that supports your recovery.
Creating a Sober Support Network
Having sober friends and supports is a necessary part of recovery. A caring individual who listens, understands the difficulties of the recovery process, and is intimately aware of the unique struggles that one faces is a powerful resource. Establishing these circles with caring family members and peers met in treatment can set someone up for success. It can also establish the sense of belonging needed to tackle the stresses that manifest throughout this first tumultuous year.
Understanding the Seasons
Looking ahead to an entire year can be difficult to wrap one’s head around. An individual may still be coping with a number of difficulties in their daily lives. However, taking time to understand how the seasons can impact one’s recovery can allow an individual to prepare coping strategies early. This can be exceptionally beneficial for those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). However, one can still plan for one’s interests, hobbies, and outlets for the upcoming months.
Those navigating their recovery identity in summer may face unique challenges, such as frequent barbeques or social gatherings that may be closely tied to one’s past use. Perhaps some are filled with social anxiety and feel pressures to re-engage with addictive substances. Planning ahead for this summer culture and having established hobbies and escape plans is necessary for navigating some of these challenges.
Looking ahead to winter can prompt a person to analyze their own self-care practices. The dwindling daylight and cold temperatures may hinder one’s participation in activities like hiking, gardening, jogging, sporting leagues, or other outdoor-focused or daylight-sensitive therapeutic outlets.
Preparing different strategies for these seasons ahead of time can help an individual create well-practiced hobbies and alternate routines to fill their days. This helps to ensure one’s ability to practice self-care or process their emotions, urges, or cravings.
Creating a Routine and Setting Expectations
Creating a routine for sobriety is one of the most important aspects of developing one’s new sober identity. Routines structure an individual’s new lifestyle by ensuring that one is kept busy with therapeutic activities to process and quell the stressors present on any given day.
Having a consistent schedule that includes regular wake-up and bedtimes, meal times, and time saved for self-care practices can all help an individual balance their developing lives. Doing so can help balance other responsibilities and recovery-focused commitments, regardless of the season. These routines can also prepare an individual for managing their unique needs, such as setting up lightboxes or alarms to maintain a healthy consistency.
Looking at a year in its entirety can also help an individual manage their expectations, especially in early recovery. While graduating from a treatment program is a major accomplishment, jumping straight into professional and personal ambitions can be extraordinarily difficult.
As such, it is important to set realistic goals for the year ahead, especially when it comes to one’s reintroduction to professional life. Rejoining the workforce is a testament to one’s success, but it can be unrealistic for an individual to expect to immediately start climbing the ranks.
It may be a while before an individual can effectively deal with workplace stressors while managing all the other aspects of this first sober year. Creating a year-long roadmap involves setting appropriate goals that may take time to accomplish, but are still reasonable for what one can expect themselves to accomplish during this time.
The first year of sobriety is filled with the most transformations and hurdles. Looking at the year ahead and anticipating some of the hurdles that may come up can help each individual prepare for these stresses and create the best approach to one’s continued sobriety. At Everlast Recovery Centers, we understand the unique challenges of facing the first entire year sober and are prepared to help meet you where you are in your journey to create a pertinent, individualized recovery strategy for your needs and goals. Your time with us can be spent focusing on your needs while developing your personal coping strategies with individual and group therapy, family programs, 12 Step programs, medication-assisted therapy (MAT), and a plethora of other therapeutic modalities. Creating the baseline for your first year sober and understanding your roadmap to success can promote a healthy lifestyle to come. To learn more, call to speak to a caring, trained staff member at (866) 388-6925.