Life definitely improves when you’re sober, but it doesn’t happen right away. Everyone who enters treatment for addiction expects life to get better, otherwise no one would put in the time and effort. However, if you expect too much too soon, those expectations might hold you back. If the improvements you expect don’t materialize immediately, you may feel disappointed, frustrated, disillusioned, or even deceived. These feelings are counterproductive and may lead to neglecting your recovery plan and “stinking thinking,” an early warning sign of relapse. The following are some of the reasons it’s important to patient in treatment and recovery and take each day as it comes.
There are always ups and downs.
It would be great if life just got better and better from the moment you enter treatment but that’s not how it works. Some days are good and others are so bad you feel like you’re wasting your time trying to stay sober. It’s often hard to tell from one day to the next whether you’re heading in the right direction. However, if you stick with it, you will see improvements. You might not feel better than you did yesterday, but you may realize even a bad day now is better than a good day six months ago.
New habits take a while to form.
Much of treatment and recovery is about replacing bad habits with good habits. These habits are about both behaviors and ways of thinking. This process can be frustratingly slow. One study found that it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days for a new behavior to become automatic, but the average was 66 days. [https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ejsp.674] So, for example, it may take two months of persistent effort to replace a habit of harsh self-criticism with a more supportive and helpful way of thinking. Given that most inpatient treatment programs only last a month, that can feel like a very long time to replace one habit but the results are definitely worth the effort.
Life always has problems.
It’s important to remember that treatment will help solve the problems related to your substance use but it won’t solve all your problems. People will still be rude sometimes and life will be unfair sometimes. Bad things will happen that are beyond your control. When these things happen, keep in mind they happen to everyone and that life’s setbacks are much more manageable when you’re sober.
Relationships take time to develop—or fix.
Having a strong base of social support is one of the most important parts of recovery. A good sober network can reduce stress and support you when you’re having a hard time. Building a good support system can take a little time. It can speed things up to join a 12-Step group or other mutual-aid group after treatment, but it still takes a little time to get to know people and feel connected to the group. It’s also helpful to have a good relationship with your family and supportive friends—but some of these relationships may have been damaged during active addiction. It can take a while for people to trust you again. In the meantime, you can only be patient and keep working on your recovery.
At Fort, we offer a safe, nurturing, and healing space for men and women to find recovery from the multifaceted disease of addiction. Our team believes in inspiring each client to face their challenges, discover the root of their problems, and reclaim their lives. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, call us today at 817-381-9741 or contact us through our admissions page.