Managing success in recovery isn’t easy.
The times when we’re most vulnerable to our addictive nature isn’t necessarily when times are tough. Very often, it’s when we’re at the top of our game—when money is flowing, when you’re feeling the love of your colleagues or friends, or when you’ve been given a new level of influence or power over others.
Drug and alcohol addictions are frequently associated with failure, but very often they are companions to success. Whether it’s our pop culture icons, our athletic heroes, famous historical figures, or the politicians who represent us, society is rife with examples of brilliant people who’ve battled addiction. Sometimes, as in the case of Oprah Winfrey, they’ve been successful in overcoming their addictive tendencies. For others, however, failure to manage success as an addict has ended in jail, humiliation, or in some cases, death.
So, how do you manage success while in addiction recovery? It’s never easy, but following these seven tips can help:
- Take extra precautions as a newly sober addict.
The most dangerous time for a recovering addict is in the first few months or even the first few years after they’ve become clean and sober. Your emotions are still running high and low, you’re exhilarated by your successful transition out of active addiction, and you may not have completely come to terms with the triggers that sent you spiraling downward in the first place. Remember, working on yourself takes time, and it requires plenty of guided introspection and self-awareness. Be conscious of your vulnerability in the first few years of your sobriety.
- Surround yourself with positive people and positive influences.
“People, places and things” may sound like the lyrics to a broken record, but the reason they’re repeated so often is because they’re vitally important. You simply cannot be successful in recovery if you’re surrounded by the people and influences that supported and enabled you while you were in active addiction. The transition to healthy living doesn’t always require new surroundings, new influences, and new faces, but a change of scenery certainly doesn’t hurt. Recognize the toxic relationships that helped to perpetuate your cycle of addiction and do your best to limit or compartmentalize them. You may not always be able to completely eliminate these negative forces (especially if they’re colleagues or family members), but you control when and how you choose to interact with them.
- Stay honest with yourself at all times.
While people, places, and things have a lot to do with whether we’ll be successful in sobriety, true recovery requires complete and total honesty with yourself and the people who support your efforts. Deceit, lies, and dishonesty are the underpinnings of addiction—it’s how we maintained our addictive lifestyle for so long! Utter, brutal honesty with yourself, your sponsor, your 12-step group, your therapists, your doctors, and your supportive loved ones gives you a safety net that can keep you from the people places and things that have brought you down in the past.
- Avoid “Pink Cloud” Syndrome.
Entering recovery is a joyous time for many people. They feel better, they look better, they think more clearly, and they have a well-earned feeling of accomplishment. When they’re also having success in life or work, the euphoria they feel is understandable, especially after having been through the protracted torment of active addiction. Don’t be lulled into this “Pink Cloud,” however. While it’s often a short-lived phenomenon, the Pink Cloud can lead to a dangerous overconfidence that can provide unrealistic expectations, delusions, and ultimately, a disappointment that can end in relapse. Every Pink Cloud has a dark lining, and in recovery it’s important to remember to focus on your journey when the highs get high and the lows get low.
- Maintain ties to others in recovery.
Whether you’ve been substance-free for a few weeks or a few years, you must always stay focused on your recovery. Joining a 12-step group or a anonymous meeting is one way to maintain your connection to other recovering addicts; another way is to enter into an aftercare recovery program like those offered at The GateHouse. We also encouraged “alumni” of The GateHouse to join our Alumni Association. If you’ve been through any of our programs—even if it was just once—you’re eligible to join. It’s a great way to stay connected and keep your recovery top of mind.
- Help others.
Giving back to your community or others in recovery is not only good for the soul, it fosters emotional maturity. By learning to feel good about others’ success, you become less self-absorbed and more other-oriented. This helps you maintain your humility, a vital tool to staying grounded as you become increasingly successful in life, work, and recovery.
- Practice mindfulness meditation.
If you’ve gone through active addiction and lived to tell about it, then you know the emotional rollercoaster recovery can be. Mindfulness meditation is the practice of focusing on your thoughts, feelings, and emotions in the present moment. It can significantly reduce stress and help you come to grips with your emotions so you can maintain balance in your life.
It’s also important to remember that drug and alcohol addictions are chronic, incurable diseases and keeping their symptoms at bay takes hard work, dedication, and positivity. No one in recovery is immune to relapses, but the good news is that with the help of an aftercare recovery program, they become increasingly rare the longer you remain abstinent from your drug or alcohol of choice.
If you’re concerned about your recovery habits or those of a loved one, and you want to speak with an expert who can recommend ways to stay the course, contact us today or give us a call at 717-393-3215.
Our aftercare recovery specialists are here to meet both your immediate and long-term needs!