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New Beginnings in Recovery

written by: Karin S. Bannerot, RN, MSN, CAC-II

New Beginnings- Where will they take us?  What’s on the other side of that opened door?  How am I supposed to DO this? So many questions, and when it comes to making a new beginning to recover from drug or alcohol addiction, an individual may feel overwhelmed.  It does not have to be this way.

Recovery happens one day at a time.  It is possible, it can be done.

Getting sober is rarely an easy task, but it is simple.  Anyone can recover. There are three basic tenets to successful beginnings on the road to recovery:  willingness to let go, a desire to lead a healthier life, and most importantly trusting that recovery is achievable.  No matter where you are in this new phase of your life, keep moving forward in your recovery. There is always hope. The process takes courage, time, and patience.  Recovery is sometimes measured in minutes and hours which then add up to one day at a time.

Keep in mind that recovery has to begin with you.  It cannot be for someone else or an outside cause. Getting sober to placate a loved one or to get a job back is an exercise in futility.  A person has to reach a point where they are ready to take actions. Recovery begins with the smallest of surrenders: letting go of “the old you” has to happen before a “new you” can begin.  

You’ve probably heard this quote: ‘A ship in the harbor is a safe ship.  But that is not what ships were built for’.

I’ve learned that early recovery can be a bit uncomfortable at times.  Yet, it is through this learning process that we grow. Try to shift your perspective from attempting to be perfect all the time and instead look for where you are making healthy progress.   When new in recovery, we are incredibly sensitive and easily disappointed. At these times, it’s good to remember that you are not inadequate, you are merely inexperienced. It is OK to be new.  It takes time to learn recovery behavior and time to grow into your improved self! Breathe, find some balance, and breathe again. Recovery is a gift. It sometimes comes quickly, sometimes slowly, but it does come.  Stay the course today!

Recovery does not happen in a vacuum.  Letting go of our past behaviors entails making positive changes like learning to ask for help, then being open to receive support.  Do not despair. These might be new skills for you. Initially it may seem difficult to reach out, but as time goes on, this becomes a source of strength.  It gets easier. With the guidance of a counselor, a 12 Step group, like-minded friends or therapy, we can begin to make traction in recovery- and get our first solid foothold.  This is the start of a new and wonderful life.

When I was growing up and faced with a challenge my Mom would ask me, “How do you eat an elephant?”  The answer is “in very small bites”. Recovery happens in small bites. In the fragile and seeming fog of early recovery, be gentle with yourself.  Take small steady steps. Delight in the progress of each 24 hours sober. As you put together your first few days of recovery, begin to gather your tools:  remain willing to learn, trust the process, ask for support.

Don’t forget to welcome the new you!  Each day sober brings a new strength, a new light, and newfound joy.  Perhaps instead of asking what the future holds, ask yourself: How much do I want to be free of this addiction today?  How much do I want to feel a sense of ease, and serenity in this moment? And how is my “now”? Chances are, if you are making a new beginning into a recovered life, your ‘now’ will feel good.

You can have it.  Recovery starts with you making a decision to change then taking action.  Open the door…you are worth it. There is hope in every sober day, and this hope becomes a wonderful beginning into your new life…recovered.

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