It is easy to sit there and preach to someone that addiction is a lifelong endeavor. As a person who's never experienced addiction, it can be easy to just minimize the day-by-day, minute-by-minute struggle faced by the recovery community. They don’t realize that while they’re going on with their lives, recovering addicts may be trying desperately to rebuild theirs or fighting tooth-and-nail to keep it together. Nobody ever talks about what happens that first night you're back home by yourself. They talk about the support you get in treatment and once you get out-and I’m eternally grateful for that-but they don’t talk about what happens after you come back home and you’re just expected to stay clean.
For me every second felt like a challenge to stay sober at first. I kept coming up with these little benchmarks, like my first sober night’s sleep by myself or my first time hanging out with friends while in recovery. I thought that if I could pass these little tests, one by one, that would give me the impetus to stay clean while taking on bigger challenges. It was an exhausting and excruciating game of inches. I kept worrying that, some day, the goals that I set for myself would get too big and that failure would send me spiraling into relapse.
I was lucky enough to get help at one of the best Florida drug rehabs and there were still nights when I felt I was going to lose it. They had prepared me as best they could, but in the end, it was all up to me to use the tools they gave me. In the next two years, each potentially traumatic event had me nervous that I was going to start using again: my first post-treatment break-up, a missed NA meeting, a family confrontation, etc. I thought that if I let my guard down for just a second, addiction would pull me back down to the bottom.
It was three years before I learned to give myself a break and enjoy life. I had realized one day that I was born again in treatment and that when you’re born with something it stays with you. During my rebirth I had been instilled with the courage and values to live a sober life and that’s not something you just throw away when things start to get a little bit rough. I credit what I learned in my drug treatment program, helping me to stay diligent and on the right path.
If you have a loved one in recovery, be sure to let them know they have your support. Rehab and my family are the only things that have gotten me through this, thus far. It’s not just the initial days or weeks after treatment that they need your support; it’s forever. So the next time you tell your addicted loved one that recovery is a lifelong process, remember this applies to you as well.
New Hyde Park, NY