OK, so you’ve entered into some kind of recovery program. It could be a treatment center; a therapeutic relationship; or a self-help group. You’re setting out on the road to recovery. A previous post addressed the issue of shame and guilt, of being bound up in past mistakes and failures. The question now is where you go from here. How do you continue your progress towards a life free of addictive drugs?
First, it is necessary that you engage in concrete efforts to change how you manage your life. Previously, drugs were probably a kind of crutch that you used to be able to handle — or avoid — the challenges of your life. Saying, for example, that you intend to participate in a few self-help group meetings every week sounds good. But, what’s a few? Something more like one meeting every day or meetings on Monday, Wednesday and Friday is much more concrete. It gives you a simple way to hold yourself accountable or have somebody else help you stay accountable.
Equally important is learning skills to help you manage life without using addictive drugs. If you got drunk only or initially in order to handle social situations, for example, then you need to learn skills to handle social situations without drinking.
It may also be necessary for you to get treatment for mental or emotional issues that may have led you to abuse drugs. If, for example, you suffered from depression and used drugs to feel better, then you’re going to need to get treatment for your depression. If you were depressed before you began to use drugs, then that depression is going to show up again when you quit using drugs.
What is needed is working to prepare yourself to manage your life without the crutch of drugs. Whatever it was that initially led you to the abuse of drugs must be addressed so that you are ready to move forward. In other words, as important as it is to cease using drugs, it is even more important that you are ready to set out on a new path in your life. Treatment for mental or emotional pain; skills for managing your life; and building a support network are all part of moving forward. Your old ways of living and managing your life are over and done with. Now it’s time to step forward into a new life. Get ready for a whole new adventure.