Several years ago a movie called “28 Days Later,” was in theaters. The movie, if you haven’t seen it, was about a group of survivors in the U.K. dealing with a viral outbreak that caused people to go crazy and attack everyone.
I think the first 30 days for a lot of people in recovery is just like that. This craziness they are just trying to survive. People do make it out and move forward in their recovery. Later on you’ll figure out what the rest of us mean when we say “Quitting is the easiest part.” For now though lets focus on what you need to do to get into, and make it through, the first 30 days.
1.Recognize you hit bottom.-If you are reading this and considering coming into treatment or at the very least stopping the use of alcohol, drugs, gambling, unhealthy sex, etc…congratulations, you hit bottom. You’re on a website dedicated to recovery, you’re life is probably not where you want it to be to say the least. You’ve tried managing this addiction thing on your own and it’s not working out. You might be great at managing every other part of your life but this, and that has caused you no small amount of undue stress and frustration. It’s OKAY. All of us in recovery have been there. We get it. Just because your life isn’t as tragic as some of the people you have seen or heard about in addiction doesn’t mean this isn’t bottom. You don’t have to be an IV drug user, homeless, and been abandoned by everyone you ever thought cared in order to be at bottom. If you are…where have you been? We’ve been waiting. The fact of the matter is that there is not defined bottom. The best advice I heard from someone else in recovery was, “If you want to know where your bottom is, quit digging.”
2. Get help. Right now!- Don’t wait. It’s not going to get better. You will not wake up tomorrow with some miraculous plan that will solve all of this. Not going to happen. You need help. If you could do it on your own, you wouldn’t be reading this. If you had the “cure” you’d be righting a book, winning the noble prize for medicine, or opening an overpriced treatment center in Malibu, California making a small fortune of people crazy enough to believe you. Don’t be a tough guy/gal. Addiction does not care if you want to suck it up. It cannot be bargained with or manipulated into doing what you want it to. If you ever asked for help in any area of your life, this is the same thing. If you haven’t, now would be an ideal time to start. Addiction is a disease and like any disease the sooner you start treatment and/or get help the better. You wouldn’t find out you had stage one cancer and then wait until it progressed to stage four to get help. Don’t do that with this disease either. Speaking of diseases…..
3. You have a disease.- It’s not weakness, in your head, the result of a bad upbringing, or anything else you might say to justify it not being a disease. The sooner you accept that, the quicker you can get better. This disease cannot be cured (despite what they say in Malibu), but it can be out in remission. You don’t have to like it. No one is asking you to, but you do need to take steps to treat it.
4. Go get some support. Even if your choice is to try and go without formalized treatment, you still need help. And by help I mean from people who get it. People who understand how this disease operates and have experience in dealing with it. One of the best places to find those people is in recovery based support groups. AA, NA, GA, etc…are all 12 step based programs filled with people who have gone through and are going through the exact same thing as you are, and a lot of them lead healthy happy lives. Smart Recovery is another group, which uses a more psychological approach to dealing with addiction, and there are many people who also have found success with their program. If you are a member of a church or faith based community you may have a recovery program in your church. Celebrate Recovery is a 12 step program based on the principles of Christianity. A quick plug for Celebrate Recovery here is that no one does fellowship like them. Almost every meeting has dinner before hand and worship service for those so inclined. If you want a decent meal and enjoy Christian services stop by before the official meeting starts. Even if that isn’t your cup of tea, they’ll let you in anyway. They’re kinda cool like that.
5. Get ready to go to work and get some humility along the way. The name of my blog on which I post a lot of these articles is called “Recovery is Not for Pansies,” for a reason. In Alcoholics Anonymous they have a saying, “There is no easier, softer way.” I don’t care how you got here. How you got the disease is irrelevant. I could, and may later, do a whole article on the science and sociological implications for addiction, but that won’t change you having it or needing help to treat it. What matters is what you do from here on out. It is not going to be easy. You are going to need to unlearn a lot of things and learn some new ones. You will no doubt be emotionally, mentally and possibly physically uncomfortable along the way. Want to know a secret? It’s worth it. Which leads me to my final point.
6. Believe me and others when we say it’s worth it.- It’s not going to be easy, but a life of recovery will never ask you to do anything anywhere near as bad as a life of addiction did. Recovery will not kill you. It’ll make you uncomfortable at times for sure, but all change, even positive change, is uncomfortable. As a drug and alcohol counselor and a person in long term recovery I learned long ago there are no guarantees in recovery, save one. I unconditionally guarantee you that if you put into your recovery in the first 30 days the kind of effort you put into trying to keep pace with the demands of your addiction, your life will improve. In 30 days you will see some thing in your life that will be tangible, that you can point to and say, “This is better because I got in recovery.” I’ve never seen it not happen. 12 step programs have their own guarantee. Try it for 90 days, if you don’t like it, they’ll refund your misery. I would love to hear from about others how being in recovery improved your life, not only in the first 30 days, but as you’ve moved forward.
At Recovery Works NW we have a staff with decades of experience in treating addiction issues. We are here to help you make it through the first 30 days and beyond. If you or a loved one is struggling and needs help please call us. The only thing you have to lose is your misery.