Early days recovery
2- Early days recovery
Many of us Iranian addicts do not realize what it means to recover from addiction, believing it is just about stopping the drugs and or alcohol. But in view of the incurable and chronic condition we suffer from, in order for recovery to be successful all aspects of our lives has to be taken into account. Based on the principles of 12 step programs, this page offers some suggestions to help you use recovery tools and principles that can support and motivate you towards this major step in your life, namely, recovery from addiction.
- Is recovery only about giving up the drugs?
- Early days recovery suggestions
Is recovery only about giving up the drugs?
- When we finally throw in the towel and decide we want to stop our addiction many of us may think all we need to do is to stop using the drugs. Not being aware addiction is a multifaceted disease that has severly affected our mind and body; we may look for a cure to merely eradicate its physical symptoms. Unfortunately nowadays with addiction being so rife in society, there are many places that promise “a quick recovery cure” at a high price. Although lucrative for such business, the truth is addiction is a disease that has no cure and like all other chronic conditions can only be arrested on a daily basis. Many of us addicts desperate to get clean buy into these quick fix promises only to find ourselves back on the drugs again or even addicted to another form of substance. We need to also be aware as far as the disease of addiction is concerned, trying to address its physical aspect alone can be futile for this is not our real problem and only a part of our condition. The thing to remember is nature of the disease of addiction and how it affects every aspect of our lives and ourselves. Our way of thinking gets distorted, our bodies function abnormally, our morals diminish and we loose all our human connections. If we want to effectively recover from this devastating disease then a holistic approach needs to be taken into consideration.
- As addicts we look outside ourselves to fix what is missing inside. Some of us may resort to drugs to feel good about ourselves and cope with life whilst others resort to behavior addictions such as sex or gambling as means to escape life. In a way what we use on – our type of addiction is merely a symptom of a core problem. Fundamentally if we do not address our core problem, which is ourselves, then even in recovery we are at risk of picking up another type of addiction to fulfill what’s missing inside. That is to say we may be in recovery from substance addiction but resort to behavior addictions to feel good and escape life. There is hope though; recovery is possible from this multifaceted condition called addiction. The most effective approach proving to be 12 Step programs to which millions are using and are benefitting from. 12 Step programs address the root cause of addiction in addition to offering an amalgamation of tools and support that cater towards recovery from all aspects of this disease. Freely offered throughout the world, and wrapped in individual anonymous fellowships, that cater towards recovery from specific types of addictions, these programs offer a way to get clean and maintain recovery on a daily basis.
- When we first decide to stop using drugs and get clean, many of us may feel fearful and overwhelmed wondering how do we now live life without them? Most of us have lived with our addiction for years. Our habits, though destructive, are embedded in us; they have become a way of life, and we may know of no other way to live. Often the very thought of a life without drugs has petrified us, and kept us from seeking a way out. We wonder how we are ever going to be able to give up the very thing that gave us the “strength” to deal with life. For so long, drugs dictated to us, telling us what we should do, when to sleep, when to eat, when to go out, how to be around others, etc. Now we have decided to stop — but are petrified at the prospect of a life without drugs.
- When we decide to get clean and enter into a fellowship we are told that our way of thinking and behaving has been made abnormal by the disease of addiction, and that we cannot rely on ourselves if we hope to recover. We learn we need to rely on a Power greater than ourselves and work the 12 Step with the support and guidance of others in recovery. It is with immense relief that we let go of the burden of addiction, along the responsibility of finding a solution all by ourselves. We gather hope in a program that promises to renew our lives and a fellowship that is there to support us. We realize we are not alone. That we are not fundamentally flawed, nor are we bad people. We are sick people trying to get well. Some of us feel like small children when we are hit with the realization that most of our habits and behaviors are rooted in a destructive disease. We may ask ourselves how we are going to live.
- Ironically, some of us need to mourn the end of our addiction, the greatest yet most destructive “love” of our lives. We may need to acknowledge that, yes, for a while; drugs served us well, before they became the agent of our destruction. Now it’s time to say goodbye. But we wonder: how are we going to live our life now? Rest assured that many of us have faced the same challenges and, although tough, we have pulled through with the support of our Fellowship and a program that shows us how to live a clean life a day at a time.
- For further information on the disease concept of addiction, please refer to: Disease Addiction
- For further information on the approach towards recovery with 12 Step programs, please refer to: Recovery 12 Steps
Early days recovery suggestions
Below are some suggestions based on the principles of 12 Step programs that can help you through the early days when you have decided to get clean. Please note although the suggestions provided here aim to support you better cope with the withdrawal symptoms of coming off drugs, the principles can be useful for any other type of addictions.
1. Acknowledge disease of addiction
- Remember: “We are not bad people trying to get good, but sick people trying to get well.” Sometimes just reminding ourselves that we are suffering from a life threatening illness is enough to help us be more compassionate with our condition and be patient with ourselves in the early days. As we would with a sick person, we should not reprimand ourselves if we are tired all the time, or if we don’t have the energy to do all that we think we should be doing. Having high expectations of ourselves to recover over night, to get healthy straight away is yet another way our disease wants to sabotage us. In fact, we should be proud that we have taken such a major step and are doing what we can to recover from our disease of addiction on a daily basis.
- Remember that recovery is the process of becoming healthy and whole people. It is a process that happens as we work our 12 Steps program. Accepting that we have a disease is the first and foremost thing we should do as we start on our journey. We have a choice: we can either recognize our disease for what it is and use the support of our Fellowship to soldier on, or we can be defiant and angry, and so fall victim to self-pity and ultimately use again. What is a reality for many of us is that recovery and a new way of life is possible and it all starts with the acceptance of our disease for what it is.
2. Tolerate withdrawal symptoms
- Withdrawal happens when we suddenly stop, or dramatically reduce, our use of drugs. In a way our body goes into shock, reacting strongly to the absence of chemicals it has become dependent on to function normally. And so withdrawal symptoms occur. Though not all of us will experience withdrawals, they are common among those of us who abused opiates or mixed variety of addictive substances. Although withdrawals can feel like a form of mental and physical torture, they are generally not life threatening and subside after a period of time, depending on our addiction history. It is always advisable though, to seek professional medical guidance if you are detoxing or going through physical withdrawals, since they can be dangerous.
- What can help you deal with withdrawals is to acknowledge that you have developed a tolerance towards the drugs and that the discomfort of withdrawal is actually a sign that your sick body is trying to recuperate and repair itself. It takes determination and patience – and a commitment to recover from our disease of addiction — to endure these hard periods. But remember that withdrawals don’t last forever, and that with time; your body will adjust and go back to normal. It may be a solace to know that many of us in the Fellowship rooms have endured these symptoms and are now back to good health and a life free from drugs.
- For further information on the types of withdrawal symptoms we may suffer from, please refer to Physical Addiction.
- For suggestions on how to better cope with withdrawal symptoms, please refer to Drug Detox & withdrawals.
3. Manage mood swings
- Just about all of us in early recovery have had extreme mood swings. This is simply what happens when we deny our bodies the drugs they have become dependent on. While not particularly pleasant, they are a common part of early recovery. Drug abuse has had biological and psychological effects on our brains, so we are bound to experience extreme highs and lows until our mind settles into some balance. Sometimes our mood swings can be so extreme they can actually interfere with our ability to function in day-to-day living. We may feel hyper, extremely happy, or incredibly sad — from one moment to another. Sometimes our extreme emotional states make us so exhausted that we find it a challenge to even get out of bed! One thing that is certain, though, these emotional extremities tempers and lessens with time. Bear with it, be compassionate with yourself in the same way you would if you were taking care of a sick child. Be patient with yourself and acknowledge this is what you need to bear with in order to find freedom from addiction. Although there is no set timeframe for when mood swings will end and when we begin to feel normal, the experience of most of us shows they settle by the end of the first year.
- What is important, though, is for you to recognize mood swings for what they are, namely, our feelings and like any other feeling, they do not last forever. Many of us get scarred when we have a feeling, since we have denied from them for so long. So when we come into recovery and experience them, we feel uneasy, and we may very well want to escape from them by our habitual way of using drugs. Many of us lack the vocabulary to identify our feelings, and so we perceive every emotion as bad, which has to be avoided at all cost. But if we start to own our feelings, simply at times by naming them, it is a great step forward in our recovery process and humanity. Sometimes by merely being able to identify a feeling and say, yes I feel sad, angry, fearful, or whatever, we find that once the feeling has been expressed, it will go away. Many of us take comfort in sharing our feelings with our fellows in recovery or at a meeting. We find relief through their mere expression, and realize we need not resort to drugs to avoid them. In fact, we find joy in our new found ability to express ourselves like healthy people. The miracle is that we are no longer under the control of drugs, so we can experience feelings –even if they are extreme to begin with. In addition, working the 12 Steps gives us the power and the tools to deal with any feeling. We find the program gives us this freedom. We now can choose how to react – either negatively by using drugs or acting out in some destructive way, or positively, by owning our feelings, by accepting and processing them, and sharing about them with our fellows in recovery. We have this choice today.
4. Challenge addictive thinking
- The Recovery principles provided in the next page provide you with useful daily suggestions that help challenge your addictive thinking and the attitudes that grip us in the early days in recovery. Remember, our disease is primarily rooted in our minds – the way we think. The mental component of the disease is strong and twisted in nature; and in the early days especially it wants to take over again, take us back to misery, to our addiction. By reading through the Key Principles, and putting them in practise, you can recognize these destructive thinking patterns and then challenge them.
5. Use Fellowship support
- Meetings are one place that we need to make into our new home in the early days. Without the support of our Fellowship, chances are our addict heads – in other words, the mental aspect of our disease — will convince us to go back to using drugs. The disease of addiction thrives in isolation, so the best way to combat it is by active participation in our fellowship. Here we will be amongst people suffering from the same disease, people who have a found a solution to their problem and are working towards recovery. Here is the place where we can fight a disease much bigger than us with the help and support others like us. We will hope in action and realize that we too can recover, which gives us the courage to soldier on. The best place to find this support is in the meetings, and that is the reason some Fellowships suggest that newcomers go to 90 meetings in 90 days. Meetings are where we hear the message of recovery, and meetings remind us that we are not alone on the path of recovery.
6. Trust the recovery process
- We did not become addicts overnight, and so we cannot expect to recover overnight. Most probably we put our mind and body through years of abuse. It will take time for it to get restored and become healthy again. There is a lot that needs healing, both from the physical harm from the drugs and the mental damages as a consequence of it. We need to be patient and gentle with ourselves. We need to trust the process of recovery and acknowledge that it works with time, as it has done for so many. The whole program, the 12 Steps is about giving us the means and the tools to become whole and healthy people again, but we need to allow for time to take its course. As they say in the Fellowship, don’t quit before the miracle. Meaning bear with it, persevere and soon you will find you are living a life in recovery beyond all your expectations.