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3 Common Dangers to Avoid in Longer-Term Recovery

dangers in recovery

If you've been in recovery for months or even a few years, you may come to the point that you think you've got this recovery thing down, and there are no dangers left to avoid in terms of recovery. You've begun to work on repairing your relationships. Maybe you've got a great new job or mended ties with family and friends. You may even start to feel a bit of that serenity that people talk about in 12-step meetings. All of this can be a good thing, but it doesn't mean you're cured of your addiction.

Addiction is a disease. While you're taking care of life on life's terms, everything will change in an instant if you choose to pick up a drink or drug.

Dangers: Thinking and Behavior in Recovery

With more power over the decisions in your life comes more responsibility. There will come a time soon that your recovery is tested. Long-term recovery is an exciting accomplishment, but no one is immune to dangerous thinking or behavior. Backsliding can easily lead to a full-scale relapse if you're not paying attention to your sobriety program. Here are three dangers to watch out for:

  1. Forgetting you are powerless. You gain confidence and begin to feel pride in your life. You may have a job or a relationship that makes you feel good about yourself, and choose to spend more time on that than your actual recovery. It's easy to get lost in things and people that make you feel good. But recovery isn't about "feeling good" - it's about doing good and continuing to work on yourself, your defects, and taking the time to make the twelve steps and integral part of your life.
  2. Spending most or all of your time in a romantic relationship. Codependency is a common issue in recovery, and it can be quite painful. People in recovery are taught that they shouldn't enter into any new relationships in their first year of recovery. That's because early recovery is a time to concentrate on yourself and your behaviors. It's easy to "lose yourself" in a relationship to the point that the other person, and the feelings you have for them, is an addiction. Love can be intoxicating, and your self-esteem may start to depend on the other person. And just because you're told that you should wait "one year" to look for romance doesn't mean that you'll be ready for a relationship at one year sober. Many people aren't prepared to handle the emotions a relationship can bring, even after a year clean. 
  3. Taking risks for the thrill of it. People with addictive personalities are often thrill-seekers at heart. They get a "little kick" out of breaking the rules and "getting away with it." You may start speeding when there are no police around. Or maybe you start stealing office supplies to take home. You might be married but love to flirt with the woman at the coffee shop every day. Or maybe you decide to skip 12-step meetings because you're tired of the commitment. All of these behaviors are dangerous because they're based on a feeling of entitlement. You don't think the rules apply to you, so you're going to bend them a bit. When you "get away" with the behavior for long enough, it can snowball. You may get in trouble with the police or your workplace. Relationships might suffer. Or maybe you'll feel too ashamed to show your face at a meeting because of the damage your behavior has caused. 

Humbling Yourself and Re-Engaging

Life is about choices. Mistakes happen when we make the wrong ones, but it's not the end of the world.  If you were perfect, you certainly wouldn't be in recovery in the first place. It can be humbling to admit you're struggling because of your own behavior, but sharing with others will help lessen the burden.

If you're feeling guilty, scared, or having trouble because of your behavior, the first thing to do is "own it." Tell your sponsor, share at a meeting, and listen to the feedback of others. When you're feeling overwhelmed, it's time to hold on to your recovery as hard as possible. "Keep coming back", even when you feel bad. Recovery can bring you progress, but there's no perfection. 

Asking for help when you've fallen into a trap in recovery will help you save yourself. There's nothing you can face in recovery that somebody else hasn't lived through. So if you find yourself engaging in destructive behavior, it's okay to feel bad about it. It's okay to say you don't know the way out. Just remember that you're worth saving, and this too shall pass. You don't have to face anything alone.

Sober Living Options

Are you looking for sober living in the San Diego, California, area? We have a place for you to call home! Living with others in recovery offers fellowship and a way to be accountable to others. Our programs are an excellent launchpad for people new to recovery who need time to transition to daily life. We offer options for housing and aftercare. Call to hear more about how we can help you by calling 760-216-2077.

When you’ve been in recovery for a while, you find some stability and serenity that you didn’t have before. But sometimes this serenity is mistaken for boredom, which can be a big trigger for some people to use.

Once you’ve settled down into your recovery and have stayed clean for a good amount of time, what else is there to do besides work your steps, go to meetings, and call your sponsor? Things aren’t as dramatic as they once were when you were new. But there is still plenty of growth to work on, depending on your individual needs and tastes. You have a choice what to do to expand your horizons as a clean and sober person.

Here are a few suggestions to help you on your way:

  1. Eat Healthier: For many people, this sounds like an obvious way to improve your life in sobriety, but many addicted people enter recovery with no real eating habits at all, nevermind eating nutritionally. Learn how to nourish your body and avoid foods that will take a toll on you later in life, such as salty and processed foods. You’ll help your body function better, which in turn helps your mind and mood regulation.
  2. Exercise: Exercise can help you regulate your moods, improve your attitude, and build a stronger, healthier body. Recent research also points to exercise as a way to help break compulsive patterns.
  3. Therapy: Many people need to delve deeper into issues involving their past, trauma, and current lifestyles. Treatment is designed to meet your individual needs and many people, even Bill W. found that therapy and psychiatry were helpful additions to a recovery program.
  4. Meditation: Many people enjoy meditation as a way to slow down, relax, and find peace in each moment. Life has a lot of stress, and meditation helps your brain cope with those stressors. In fact, research has shown that meditation helps people with decision-making, depression, and anxiety.
  5. Yoga: A lot of people enjoy yoga as a way to relax, learn about breathing, and to become mindful of their body. You will also learn essential stretches and poses that can help you reduce stress, anxiety, etc. It’s not for everyone, but yoga has been a great addition to many peoples lives in recovery.
  6. Volunteer: Find a place in your local community that needs your help. Whether it’s a soup kitchen or a 12-step meeting or event, you’ll feel better about yourself and “get out of your head” while you’re doing volunteer work.
  7. Enjoy Life: Sure, you can’t go to your old hangouts, but there are hundreds of other ways to enjoy life. Go to local museums, take a class on a subject you’ve been curious about, join a sports team. Remember that as long as you stay clean, the possibilities are almost infinite.

Being clean is just a stepping stone to a new way of life. You have a lot of time to explore your world and find new ways to enjoy it. Don’t be too timid about finding new hobbies – and don’t neglect your 12-step meetings. Every day is a chance for something new.

Sober Living

Sober living is a great next step once you’ve completed a treatment program. Are you interested in living among your peers in a safe, fun environment as a part of your recovery program? Get in touch and learn about your options. You can call us at 760-216-2077.

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