5 Realities of Substance Abuse Recovery

Any individual choosing to put aside their substance abuse and addictions is courageous. They recognize they can't sustain the life they're living, and they know recovery will be good for them. It's hard for anyone who hasn't struggled with substance abuse to understand the magnitude of choosing to enter a recovery program.
Substance abuse recovery is a different experience for everyone, but most people who haven't battled their addictions don't know what to expect. Besides staying with a program for a few weeks or months, it's nerve-wracking not to know what will happen or how it will help. Addicts and their loved ones shouldn't have to feel anxious during a time when they should only focus on the positivity the program will bring to their lives.
Read on to learn five realities of substance abuse recovery so you and your loved ones know what's coming down the road. With the right mental preparation and perspective, everyone can support each other through the recovery process.

1. Take Things Slowly

Many addicts enter recovery programs believing they'll learn the secret to leaving bad habits and behaviors behind. While they'll get the help they need, there's no cure for substance abuse. Instead, they'll learn to take things slowly and focus on one day at a time.
Recovery requires lifestyle, environmental and social changes, so it will take a while to form new routines and get used to a different way of living. 

2. Prepare to Battle the Brain

Some people think that choosing recovery over addiction is a choice, but it's much more than that. Anyone recovering from substance abuse must battle their brain every day to reprogram it. Every time someone gives in to addictions like drug and alcohol abuse, it frays nerves in the brain and rewards the action with dopamine, leading to faster and increased addiction habits. Recovery removes this euphoria and leaves people with withdrawal symptoms and muted dopamine reactions.

3. Avoid Finding Another Addiction

Once addiction leaves an empty hole in the life of someone in substance abuse recovery, they often fill it with another one. They may obsess over fitness routines, throw themselves into school or constantly consume drinks high in caffeine. It's better to learn how to balance healthy interests. Perhaps instead of experimenting with drugs or alcohol in college, students can join a club or activity.

4. Grieve Your Losses

The removal of addiction leaves people feeling like they've lost their old way of life. They leave friends and habits behind for an unknown routine and social group. Anyone in recovery programs should embrace feelings of grief to work through the symptoms in healthy ways. 

5. Find Your Own Way

Recovery looks different for everyone, so no two experiences look identical. As long as the person in recovery keeps gratitude at the center of their life, they can remain focused and encouraged. Thankfulness shows them how they've grown and what they can look forward to, instead of focusing on the lifestyle they've lost.

Create a Support Group

Outside of the people who run a recovery program, former addicts need to create a support group of friends and loved ones. The encouragement and love will help them keep their focus and maintain their recovery in the long term. 

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