How one defines early recovery can vary. For some, early recovery constitutes up until the first two years, when the disease of addiction is said to go into remission. For others, early recovery is only the first six months to the completion of the first year. In the rooms of 12-Step fellowships like Alcoholics Anonymous, one is a “newcomer” until the successful completion of thirty days abstaining from all mind-altering substances.
The quantity of time of early recovery is not so much as important as what happens during the early recovery stages- which is healing, growth, and development of the mind, the body, and the spirit.
Early recovery can be a special and sacred time in someone’s life, albeit, one of the more challenging, difficult, and even sometimes painful times in someone’s life. Going through the process of recovery is no small feat which is why, unfortunately, millions of people turn their back on this remarkably radical journey. The changes which take place take work, honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness. Choosing hard work, emotional discomfort, and persistent adjustment over the chemically hardwired propensity to seek pleasure from mind-altering substances like drugs and alcohol is difficult. Many of us see the want to live a sober life over the want to live an alcoholic or addicted life, as nothing short of miraculous.
During the first year of recovery, miracles are, inarguably, taking place. It is a miracle that someone who has reached the hopeless, desperate bottom of the pit of despair can sustain abstinence. It is a miracle that they can start to witness change within themselves, befriend others, ultimately become of service to them, earn responsibility, and much more. From the nuanced in innocuous to the obvious and celebrated, the experiences of early recovery are plenty.
Feeling The Fog Lift
Symptoms of withdrawal will end after a few months’ time, but the body and the brain do not yet fully recover. After living a long period of time under the constant influence of drugs and alcohol, it takes the brain and body time getting used to living sober. From about sixty days onward, newcomers feel “the fog lifting.” Clarity returns to their mind and they can feel their brain functioning sharpening, their body functioning becoming regular, and their energy returning.
Watching The Light Turn On
“The light” is about more than brain clarity. As someone goes through treatment, works in therapy, and participates in a 12-Step program like Alcoholics Anonymous, something changes in them. “Old-timers” watch with glee as “the light” comes on in those in early recovery. Glimmering in their eyes is the real look of hope, the beginnings of joy, and the growing understanding that living sober is both entirely possible, as well as entirely sustainable.
Spiritual development in the first year of recovery is a matter of manifesting faith in belief in a power greater than the self. For years, newcomers have believed that there is no power greater than their substance of choice, yet, somehow, coming to admit that they are powerless over drugs and alcohol is a challenge. When the light turns on, newcomers are realizing that they do not have to live in sickness and misery anymore. The problem of alcoholism has a solution and the solution is accessible, even to them.
Taking on responsibilities in early recovery can happen quickly or slowly. Some newcomers have the luxury of focusing the hours of their day solely on recovery- they attend a treatment program, step down through the levels of that treatment program, live in a sober living environment, and attend 12-Step meetings, as well as socialize with their sober fellows. Others have to dive right back into life- they have spouses, children, careers, jobs, payments, and more.
The responsibilities of recovery, however, look a little different. Newcomers are encouraged to take on “commitments” at 12-Step meetings like making coffee, greeting meeting attendees at the door, and cleaning up after the meeting. As time is earned, there are opportunities to lead meetings, secretary meetings, hold literature, tokens, or act as a treasurer, and more. Once a newcomer has completed the 12-Steps with a sponsor of their own, they are able to be of service to others by taking other newcomers through the steps, acting as a sponsor themselves.
Responsibility in early recovery isn’t impressive because of the responsibilities themselves. Addiction demands all responsibility be paid to it and as a result, the ability to stay fully accountable to any other kind of responsibility gets thwarted. Taking on any kind of responsibility, big or small, is a demonstration of the incredible gifts of recovery.
Origins Behavioral Healthcare is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance abuse, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety.
For information on our programs,
call us today: 844-843-8935