When it comes to addiction and sobriety, there’s a lot of talk of recovery and just as much confusion as to exactly what it means. Does recovery begin the last time you use a drug, and does relapse take you back to square one? Is going through withdrawals and flushing the substances from your system the beginning of recovery, the end, or neither? Our answer is that addiction is best understood as a chronic condition, and that you’re in recovery as long as you’re committed to the goal of a drug free life.
The Process of Recovering from Drug Addiction
Drug addiction and recovery is complex, as it stands at the intersection of physiological disease, mental health challenge, and socioeconomic hardship. In the early days of addiction treatment, someone was considered to have recovered once they graduated from a rehab program even though relapse rates were quite high. Today, we understand that addiction is a chronic condition and that sobriety is a lifelong commitment, but this challenges many old assumptions about what constitutes recovery.
What Does it Mean to Be in Recovery?
Given that recovery is a non-linear process, it seems like the only logical starting point for recovery is the moment that a person decides that they need to make a change and become sober. That moment where a person takes an honest look at themselves and decides that they can’t continue down the path they’re on is the beginning of recovery.
From there, life is best understood as different stages of recovery each with their own challenges and needs but without a neat, tidy end point. Someone may recover so successfully that they require no active effort to avoid relapse, but this doesn’t mean they have completed recovery and should neglect the positive lifestyle changes and good decisions that have brought them there. A healthy, fulfilling life that defangs the appeal of drug abuse is something that a person continually maintains.
The Early Steps of Recovery
The first steps of recovery can be a painful, stumbling process as a person might decide to get better without deciding to seek help. Attempting to detox on your own and handle withdrawals without medical assistance can be an agonizing, even dangerous process depending on the drug in question. Many opioid overdoses occur because a person undergoes partial withdrawals and then mistakenly takes an excessively large dose in an attempt to avoid the ill effects of the drug. Severe alcohol or benzo withdrawals can even have fatal complications in and of themselves. These are just a few of the reasons why it’s so important that a person seeks out a rehab facility to help them detox.
Building a Foundation for Lasting Sobriety
While detox is a great achievement, there’s still a great deal of work to be done. Cravings and post-withdrawal symptoms can persist for weeks or months, and the underlying problems that drove a person to drug addiction remain untreated. As such, the next phase of recovery consists of getting through these post-withdrawal symptoms, building healthy coping mechanisms, and identifying the problems in your life that make drug abuse seem like a worthwhile escape.
As a person continues going through the recovery process, they enter the stage of long-term recovery. At this point, it seems apparent that the new coping mechanisms, counseling, and therapy provide you with a solid framework to pursue a healthy, drug-free life through. While relapse is still a possibility, even this unfortunate outcome never means that you’re back at square one. You’ll still be better off than you were before you made the commitment to getting better, and these setbacks provide you and your support system an opportunity to take new lessons from your struggle with addiction. After incorporating these lessons into your approach to recovery, you’ll be able to continue pursuing your drug-free future.
America’s Rehab Campuses is Here For Your Whole Journey
America’s Rehab Campuses believe that support and compassion can make a difference. This is why we offer comprehensive care levels from detox and inpatient rehab to sober living and outpatient care; so that every patient can work with a single, trusted partner through their entire recovery. If you’ve struggled with addiction and now see that you need help, reach out to us today.