Early Recovery can seem a lot like a diet. Although there are a few things you’re allowed to have, there seems to be many more in which you’re not allowed to indulge without feeling guilty. It isn’t easy to give up a lifestyle you’ve grown accustomed to in exchange for a life with spiritual principles from a spiritual program. If you’re in early recovery from drug addiction or alcoholism, you don’t need to feel discouraged. Every single person you’ve seen in an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, a Refuge Recovery meeting, or even in the waiting room of your therapist’s office has had to have started from day one without any experience. Just like our drug use was trial and error, so is our recovery.
In the beginning, early recovery can seem monotonous. Wake up, go to a meeting, either go to school, go to work, or go to an outpatient program, then bum around for a couple of hours until the night meeting, go to the night meeting and pray that some of the other folks your age are going to go to the diner or out for ice cream afterwards; otherwise it’s go to sleep and start the cycle over again the next day. Recovery is a routine, but it doesn’t have to be boring.
For starters, now-a-days there are thousands of meetings going on simultaneously all over the world at any given moment. Even in smaller communities where meetings are scarce, there are cyber meetings you can take part of to meet some new people. Groups on Facebook also have a support system of people all over the world who can offer support or advice 24 hours a day. Programs like Refuge Recovery allow us a Buddhist’s perspective on recovery, which serves as a nice supplement or addition to our 12 step recovery. SMART Recovery has also grown rapidly over the past couple of years, with meetings in almost every state in the country, and across the entire planet.
Although therapy doesn’t seem like what you’d like to do on Friday night, a weekly therapy appointment can actually help break the monotony of your recovery. By allowing a therapist to work with you on some fundamental issues that may or may not have led to your alcoholism and drug addiction, valuable insight may be gained from regular sessions. Many times, alcoholics and drug addicts have more issues than simply drugs and alcohol. For most of us, drugs and alcohol were a means of self-medicating that eventually stopped working over time. If we explore the root causes of our addictions with a therapist, we grow increasingly likely to stay sober and to become happier.
Fun in Recovery
There are ways to have fun in recovery, even though we don’t always recognize this at first. For most of us, we coupled drugs or alcohol with our “fun” activities. When we begin to build a new life clean and sober, it can be difficult to imagine having fun without substances. Whether you enjoyed hiking, hanging out with friends, going to concerts, or anything else, you’ll find that the clean life requires a new outlook on enjoying yourself.
This takes personal investigation. You may find that you can do the same activities you once enjoyed, but do them sober. With a sober group of friends, you can build a community of like-minded people who enjoy the same activities. On the other hand, you may discover new things that bring you joy. You may find you like being active, enjoy different music, or find relaxing time to be fun. The key here is to be open to a new experience, and have a beginner’s mind. We don’t always know exactly what we want or need, so it can help to try new things!
There’s no secret to alleviating stress in today’s ever-turning, ever-evolving world of improvement. Quieting the mind, though it may seem counterintuitive to being productive is in fact one of the most important ways to ground yourself. Balance doesn’t mean an equal part meditation and an equal part recovery; balance simply means appropriating each tool you have into a routine that feels right to you. The benefits of recovery span from improvements in focus to lower blood pressure. Spirituality can also be an hour a week in church, a conversation with a friend about the universe, or anything else that helps you to find the collectiveness in the world around you. Each and every single one of us has the power within ourselves to transform our situation into something meaningful and positive. We need only to believe in ourselves to make it happen. Holistic treatment centers will often help you find a spiritual path that works for you.
Finally, if you’re looking to break up the monotony, simply embracing it can work wonders as well. It’s been said that ten thousand hours doing anything can make somebody a professional, and if that’s the truth, then more meetings might actually not be a bad thing. Switching up your meeting schedule can help, as well as making friends at meetings, sharing and contributing to your meeting, and even volunteering for a commitment at your meeting can help you to feel apart of, rather than separated from. When we become involved in meetings, we start to see it as something we’re apart of, rather than something we’re going to. Contribute to your meeting, even if you’re afraid that you’ll sound stupid or are embarrassed that other people have more time than you. The basis of the fellowship is one addict or alcoholic helping another, and so a person with even a minute less than you can greatly benefit from your perspective on things. Sometimes folks with more time need to hear a newcomer share in order for them to remember what it was like when they were new, or “keeping it green,” as they say.
If you’re feeling stuck or you’re feeling bored, there are a ton of ways to break the monotony of routine. Having fun with sober friends, changing meetings, digging deeper into your spiritual practice are all ways to enhance your recovery while making it seem more interesting. There’s no right or wrong way to be in recovery, so long as you are in recovery. These are just a few suggestions to help keep your recovery from seeming like a chore. Many people have had trouble staying interested or feeling relevant from months 3-6, when celebratory chips aren’t given out as frequently. During this time it’s especially important for members to stay active in their recovery by volunteering for commitments, seeking new meetings, making friends in the program, and even tasks that are as simple as setting goals for the future. By remaining diligent, allowing yourself to have fun, and being open to new experiences with new people, eventually the world will begin to expand and many more possibilities and opportunities will present themselves, seemingly without your doing at all. You just need to put in the work required in the beginning and allow yourself to receive the gifts that are headed your way. Sometimes they take longer than we hope for, but they always materialize if we work for them.
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