“Just kind of seeing things in a different light really opened me up to be more accepting of things, to not freak out over the little stuff and react the right way.”
These are the words of Zach, a graduate of Addiction Campuses‘ Texas-based program, the Treehouse. He is one of many recovering addicts who spoke to me about overcoming the hurdles that come along with the disease that is addiction. Through my talks with these brave souls emerged a wealth of advice that other recovering addicts can learn from, and I now pass some of this on to you through the following 4 tips.
1. Don’t give up after one unsuccessful meeting.
The first meeting is rarely the turning point. When you’re still new to the program, you may feel skeptical or unready to face reality, but you’d do well to stick with it.
“I was scheduled to leave at the end of July last year,” recalled Zach. “Three or four days before that, I decided to go to an AA meeting. I had gone to one a week before, and I wasn’t having it. It wasn’t for me. I decided to go to one more and approach it with an open mind and things just clicked.”
If you give yourself a chance to interact and listen to others in the group, you may just find valuable connections you didn’t expect or even think were possible.
2. Be in it for yourself.
You have to want to get better and be in it for yourself rather than just to appease others. Wendy was involved in a situation while she was in rehab that she felt threatened her sobriety, and reached out to her counselors right away to make sure she stayed on the right path.
“That was the point in my recovery when I knew I had to be in it for me,” she said. “I couldn’t be there to make friends. Other people may not have been there for the right reasons, and I couldn’t let that hinder my recovery. I realized I couldn’t live like that anymore.”
3. Use what you’ve learned to help others.
While your own health should be your priority, it also doesn’t hurt to help others as you can. As many in recovery find out, just hearing stories from other addicts can be tremendously inspiring. Being able to help others can make you feel better about yourself and your own experience. You’re taking a negative (your addiction) and turning it into something positive (helping others recover).
“Those last few weeks I wasn’t there just to be there — I was helping other people grow,” Zach said. “We had AA meetings every night and helped people through the 12 steps.”
4. Accept that not everyone is ready to forgive you.
One of the most difficult things to face during the recovery process is that while you are doing your best to make amends with those you’ve hurt, not everyone is willing to forgive and forget. It can be very disheartening to have a new, more positive outlook on life, yet remain haunted by the actions of the version of yourself you’re trying to leave behind. The reality is that you may have hurt someone, and they have every right to remain guarded. You can’t fault them for this even though you’ve changed.
“You can’t push it,” Wendy said. “There’s nothing I can do about people not wanting to make amends. They’ll be ready, or they won’t.”
“They will teach you in rehab that you can’t expect to come home and everything is going to be fantastic or that everyone will understand,” said Sally. “I’ve struggled with it a little, but not everyone sees addiction as a disease and see it as a choice, which to an extent it is.”
Remember though, you’re in this for yourself. If you continue to make positive choices, positive things will happen.