Substance use can be all-consuming. Before we realize it, our entire lives revolve around obtaining our substance of choice, and the next chance we will have to use it. Beginning our recovery journey can feel amazing, just to be free of our old habits. However, especially in the beginning, we still need a lot of support just to get through each day and survive the cravings without a relapse. It begs the question, can we become independent in our sobriety?
Pros and Cons of Our New Freedom
Being free from substances can feel incredible, and yet there are still so many struggles, too. We have to regain our physical health, we go through withdrawals, and will still have cravings, too. We need the help of therapy and a lot of different tools to help us make sense of how we got here, where we’ve been, and how to get to our desired destination.
Our freedom includes a mind that is now ours to take control of again. We have a body that is ready to heal and be free from substances. We have the ability to correct our mistakes, make new plans, and accomplish our dreams. We can find self-forgiveness, self-discipline, and self-love. Our new freedom opens up a world of possibilities for us.
Relying on Support
In our treatment and early in our recovery, we are dependent on the support of others. We need therapists, sometimes medical specialists, physical trainers, and more to help us learn and continue to grow in our recovery. Perhaps we want to run before we can walk, but leaning on the support of others is what helps us to stay sober during this crucial time.
Something that we learn early on is that independence is not aloneness. Independence can be walking on our own, but it is also the ability to know when we need support, and the willingness to ask for that support. We are becoming independent when we lean on the support that is there for us. We are becoming independent when we build our own support network.
In order to be independent, we need to develop the skills that will help us to function on our own. We are going to face challenges, possibly daily, and we need to have a set of skills that will help us to navigate those day-to-day challenges. Stockpiling these skills is like preparing for battle, because we never know what we are going to face, and it is always better to be prepared.
In treatment, we develop many different types of skills. There are skills such as mindfulness meditation and yoga, which help us to be more complete. They also help us to manage cravings and build up resiliency to help prevent relapses. We learn tools like urge surfing, which help us ride the wave of a craving rather than drown in it. There are many other relapse prevention techniques, and the more skills we have the better. That way, if we are in the moment and one skill isn’t being effective, we have others to draw on, too.
We learn skills such as stress management and emotional regulation. We learn interpersonal communication skills that help us in every aspect of our lives. We learn about forgiveness, self-love, and the importance of daily self-care. This includes tools for daily living such as exercise and nutritious eating. These skills and so many more offer us structure, create a safety net for us, and also provide “Plan B” scenarios for us when life gets difficult for us.
There will come a point where we realize that we no longer need as much support from others. We have become strong and built good habits, but we also know who and where to go for help. So we step away from weekly meetings, perhaps attending once a month or interacting with others in recovery in other ways, such as a running or bicycling group. We wean ourselves away from being dependent on others, and we practice living independently in our recovery.
We always know where that support is, usually, it is just a phone call or text away. If something big happens and we need more support, or if we realize we are not quite as independent as we thought, then we can always reach out for help at any time. However, often, we have strength we did not know we had. We are resilient beyond our own comprehension. By taking that step away from regular support, we not only practice our independence, but we also excel at standing on our own two feet.
Meeting the Challenge
Some recovery models are based on a lifelong dependence on a higher power and participation in meetings for life. For some, that is very beneficial, and everyone needs to do what is right for them. For those who want to become autonomous in our own recovery, however, we do reach the point that we actually can become independent in our own sobriety. We have everything we need, and we can succeed.
Becoming independent in your own recovery begins at AToN Center. Call (888) 535-1516 today to find out why we are your Aid To Navigation, helping you learn to navigate your own recovery. We believe that there is power in being independent and in living your own healing. We believe in you.