If you ask a multiple people what their definition of successful long-term addiction recovery is, they’ll probably all come up with a variety of different answers. While the answers will all undoubtedly be some approximation of “staying off drugs or alcohol”, this will look different for each individual person. The reality is, “success” can be a loaded term in the context of addiction recovery, because it implies some sort of competition, however indirectly. If we approach recovery with the singular purpose of long-term management and abstinence, we are less likely to get distracted by other lofty endeavors before we’re ready for them.
This is not to say that we don’t need to move forward in our lives; however, we need to give ourselves the appropriate breathing room to begin and build our recovery routines. It’s very easy to try to take on more than we’re ready for in an effort to prove something to ourselves, our families or even the people that doubted us. Whether this means taking on too much work, trying too hard and too fast to rebuild our relationships or make drastic life-altering decisions, we need to keep our heads in the game and focus on the day-to-day. As we get more and more comfortable in our long-term addiction recovery after treatment, we can start incrementally taking on more obligations.
Successful long-term addiction recovery is about ongoing abstinence from drugs and alcohol along with incrementally rebuilding our lives and addressing the fallout of our substance abuse; it’s not about trying to satisfy an invisible panel of judges or biting off more than we can chew. If we run before we walk, we run the risk of relapsing and winding up right back where we started. Whether we have to spend some time in sober housing to put our lives back together or we can get the help we need from a day program, we all have our own formula and definition for success.