Recovery can be intimidating for a number of reasons, and taking the first first steps to recovery is one of the most challenging parts of the entire process. This first stride is one of the most important proprietors of change. Knowing what to expect during the onset of one’s journey can help an individual mentally and emotionally prepare th
emselves for the coming challenges while highlighting the transformations one is about to pursue.
While each individual’s journey may be unique, the feeling of uncertainty can be a common trait shared by many. However, this can also create an atmosphere of understanding among peers while taking this first step.
Making the Decision for Yourself
One’s attendance in a recovery facility can be the result of numerous reasons. For some, familial influence may have influenced one’s presence in recovery as they may be in attendance in order to begin to repair these relationships. Others may have a legal obligation to attend a dedicated recovery program. However, while one’s attendance can be at the behest of others, one’s dedication to change still has to come from their own decision.
Profound change can be impossible if an individual is not committed to the idea of changing in the first place or does not see the need to address their substance abuse. Making the decision to pursue change is a difficult and humbling experience that is not terribly comfortable but is nevertheless a necessary part of the recovery process.
The biggest reason why deciding to pursue change for oneself can feel so difficult is that it comes with a degree of vulnerability, guilt, and shame. Accepting change comes packaged with accepting the consequences of substance use – between strained relationships and the personal and professional ramifications therein, processing one’s situation can be a lot to handle. Denying and distancing oneself from these consequences can feel like the simpler, more peaceful option, even if it leaves these issues unaddressed and continuing to fester in one’s mind.
While acceptance is uncomfortable, it is a necessary step into the heart of recovery. It is an experience shared by all who have committed themselves to the recovery process, making confronting these feelings a core part of one’s journey.
Detoxing the Body
Alongside the need for accepting the need for change, the physical detox of one’s body and mind is essential to the recovery process. It can be difficult to embrace sober practices and strategies while there are still traces of alcohol or drugs in one’s system.
Detox, a phase that lasts for about two weeks, can also come with intense withdrawal symptoms that may need professional care to navigate safely. Withdrawal is an uncomfortable experience at its best, so preparing oneself in a professional facility can help ease the discomfort and manage these symptoms.
Each individual will have their own symptoms that can occupy a wide range of physical and emotional effects depending on one’s frequency and intensity of substance use. However, this phase also marks the first profound change in one’s life, and overcoming these symptoms to see detox through is a testament to one’s strength already on display in recovery.
Changing Your Environment and Routine
The first step into recovery also comes with some major changes to one’s environment. One’s home may be populated with reminders of one’s former use – rooms in which one used to hide substances, memorabilia of vacations one spent drunk, or other indications of their past use.
Entering a recovery facility leaves many of these things back at an individual's home while they move into a curated recovery environment. While it can feel new and unfamiliar, this environmental change is intended to help signal the change in one’s lifestyle, distancing oneself from their past use and routines.
One’s time can also become highly regimented, with scheduled morning alarms, individual and group therapy sessions, group therapeutic activities, and personal time for self-care. All of this, alongside scheduled mealtimes and nightly routines to prepare for rest, can feel like a lot to adjust to. However, these activities are also the basis on which an individual can begin to build their personalized recovery strategies and introduce a degree of consistency to the uncertainty of a transforming future.
The first step into recovery can feel the most difficult, and it is common that this phase is met with a bit of resistance as an individual acclimates themselves to a new lifestyle. However, overcoming this phase of recovery can also be the most profound. The transformations therein can be the cornerstones of prolonged sobriety and recovery practices.
Making the decision to embrace this change can mark the beginning of a shift in one’s daily routine and mindset. This can serve as a testament to one’s strength to overcome addiction and substance abuse and process one’s past while planning for the future.