In Celebration of National Recovery Month
September has long been a time of change and opportunity as nature transitions from the warmth of long summer days to the shorter, crisper colorful days of Autumn. As the leaves begin to turn, so do our lives, presenting new beginnings and fresh possibilities. It is a season of growth, both in the natural world around us and within ourselves.
It is interesting that National Recovery Month also happens to fall in the month of September. National Recovery Month is a time to embrace the idea that recovery is possible for everyone. Treatment can save a life and can help people with substance use disorders recover from addiction's powerful effects on their brain and behavior. (CDC, 2023).
Every day, I am humbled to be in the presence of individuals who are walking a road to recovery. Some are standing on the sidewalk, contemplating whether sobriety is for them…still struggling with the idea of how is it possible to lead a life without substances. Others are just starting on the road, unsure of what the future holds for them, but willing to give sobriety a chance and literally taking things one day at a time. There are those, too, who have been walking the recovery road for a much longer time and have gained many months or years of sobriety…and I am in awe of how drastically their lives have improved as a result of trusting the process (as scary and daunting as it once was) and overcoming substances. No longer can addiction hold these individuals’ lives hostage as perhaps it once did.
I am deeply touched by the stories of individuals who have embarked on this remarkable journey towards recovery, and equally humbled to be a part of their journey. And let’s be honest, the path to recovery is not without its challenges, especially in the early stages. It is a journey fraught with obstacles that can test one's resolve to the limit. Let us explore some of these hurdles that many encounter on their road to abstinence.
One of the most arduous challenges is the presence of friends who were once partners in addiction. These friendships can be incredibly difficult to leave behind. The pull of familiarity and shared experiences can make it a Herculean task to resist the temptation to relapse. We encourage our clients to forge new friends, and ones with individuals who accept them for who they are, blemishes and all. The healthiest of friendships, are those that do not put you in harm’s way, do not tempt you with unhealthy things, and who do not assist you in straying from the goals you are trying to achieve.
The tumultuous emotions that accompany early recovery, such as anger and irritability, can be overwhelming. They serve as constant reminders of the pain and suffering that addiction has inflicted upon us. The team at Elevate Health and Wellness provides therapeutic support and coping strategies to help individuals manage these emotions constructively, fostering a sense of inner peace. Processing such charged emotions in a therapeutic environment and “unpacking” much of the hurt that exists allows individuals to free themselves from the grip of our negative core beliefs.
Having substances within reach or in one's home can be a dangerous trigger for relapse. The allure of immediate escape from the emotional turmoil can be difficult to resist. We like to emphasize the importance of creating a safe and substance-free environment, allowing individuals to focus on their recovery without the constant threat of temptation. Why dance with temptation in the early months of recovery? Rid your home of all substances and surround yourself with things that will bring you joy and happiness, and do not enable unhealthy habits.
Feelings of boredom, loneliness, or a lack of identity can also be significant triggers for relapse. Without the comforting crutch of substances, individuals may struggle to fill the void left behind. This is often a point of discussion in our Recovery Maintenance Groups or in our Intensive Outpatient Programs…where individuals are encouraged to explore trying out new hobbies, interests and self-discovery to assist in finding new purpose and meaning in their lives. This can be a fun and liberating experience for many, and the biggest hurdle may just be getting started with trying something new. Who knows, you may actually come across something that you become very passionate and excited about!
Navigating social events and gatherings with family and friends can be daunting for those in recovery. The fear of judgment or the pressure to partake in substance use can be overwhelming. We encourage you to communicate boundaries to those close to you. Planning in advance how you will handle or what you will say in these inevitable situations can help you to have the most positive outcome and resist falling into past negative behavior. It is like one of my favorite mentor’s once taught me: If you fail to plan, Plan to fail. Role playing these conversations or situations with your therapist can be extremely beneficial to preparing for the best outcome.
Elevate Health and Wellness stands as a beacon of hope when it comes to recovery. Through a combination of evidence-based therapies, holistic practices, and a nurturing environment, Elevate Health and Wellness creates a space where individuals can not only heal their bodies but also find the strength to heal their souls. As we observe National Recovery Month, let us remember that the journey to recovery is a testament to the human spirit's enduring strength. Elevate Health and Wellness is there to support and guide individuals every step of the way. Together, we can break free from the chains of addiction and embrace a life filled with hope, purpose, and renewed vitality.