You have been doing a great job in recovery! Positive vibes and thoughts are running rampant through your mind. Your future is bright. You are strong, disciplined, and determined. I hear a noise in the distance. What is it? It’s you! Roaring!
Slow down, Bearcat! There is a useful adage in early sobriety, “Slower is faster.” It’s true, and it even applies to someone as exceptional as you. Once you have completed your first goals in early sobriety, there is a danger to become too confident, too anticipatory, and less vigilant. Let’s discuss mistakes often made in early sobriety, so you can keep your radar focused on future challenges and your eyes on the prize: your next day sober!
In Continuing Care, we are privy to the mistakes or misconceptions that follow every recoveree during early sobriety:
Know Your Recovery Comes Before Work
You just took 30 days or more off from work. You couldn’t possibly take off more for meetings, or a sponsor, or an Intensive Outpatient Program. Yes you can. Recovery is now your full-time job. Identify the stressors that landed you in addiction’s arms in the first place. If even one source of stress comes from your job, imagine how fast you may fall back into old habits. If you are debating whether you should take off more time for your recovery, you should.
Hold Off on New Relationships
You arrive to your first meeting on the outside. You complete your coffee commitment, check in with your sponsor, and grab a front row seat. You have really hit your stride. Until Jamie walks in and sits down next to you. Jamie, you find out, just completed 30 days and is looking good! The two of you get to talking, and you start to think this may be the one. Here’s some bad news: Jamie is not – at least, not yet – ready for you.
Jumping into new relationships is a mistake in early sobriety. This is a time when we are still trying to rebuild our lives. Starting a relationship with someone during this time can derail progress, and it is recommended that you continue to support yourself before you can realistically support someone else.
Don’t Isolate Yourself
We know, we know! This is not what you wanted to read, but it is true. New relationships intimate in nature can distract you from sobriety. This isn’t to say, however, that you should isolate yourself from others. Integrating back into society is both a necessary and rewarding step in your recovery. Although we tightened the reins on intimate relationships, it is crucially important that you develop new, healthy, and believe it or not, fun relationships. This is one reason why Mountainside developed the Ambassador program. Mountainside Alumni not only help integrate early recoverees into support meetings but may also help you locate sober activities and networks in the area.
Watch for Codependency
So you met with your Mountainside Ambassador, Alex. Alex is great! You were shown where all the great meetings are, introduced into their network, and added to a group text filled with interesting people with experience in living a sober lifestyle. You never knew sobriety could be so enjoyable. You know Alex is going to be your go-to call for everything sobriety-related. Sounds perfect, right?
Not quite. Despite how easy it was for Alex to help you find a solid sober network, sobriety isn’t easy. Anything worthwhile is worth the work. Alex is great because Alex owns recovery. It is time for you to do the same. It is difficult to surrender and ask for help, but it may also become challenging to take control of your sobriety once you accepted assistance. Alex will let you know when it is time to seek help as well as when it is time to put your big-person-pants on. This is your recovery. Own it.
Learn from Mistakes
Mistakes in early recovery are going to happen, nobody is perfect. This is something every recoveree learns sooner or later. What is important is how you react to those mistakes. Own your mistakes. Readily admit when they occur. A slip-up is only embarrassing when it is ignored and repeated.