What Does Long Term Recovery Look Like

When I started my journey to recovery I never imagined that I would be sober this long. I was literally just hoping to get through the day, the week, and maybe the month. As they days added up I waited… impatiently, and with the excitement of a little kid waiting for the Santa Clause… I was hoping for my life to quickly get amazingly better.

DontlookbackWhat I didn’t realize in those early days, was that just putting down the drink was not going to be enough. To find my real happiness I needed to continuously work on my recovery and learn how to adapt  to life on life’s terms without booze – and that would take some time.

The greatest gift of the long term sobriety is that things have definitely become amazingly better; I no longer obsess about my drinking and how to drink responsibly. I no longer ponder about how I will go through my entire life without ever drinking again – I just don’t drink. I no longer wonder what people think about me not drinking, I know this is the right path for me. I no longer question if I am or I am not an alcoholic – I am and I am OK with that. Yet, today I continue my recovery in the very same ways as I did early on.

I was recently asked this question: After all of these years being sober, do you ever have strong urges to drink?

Yes! I do. They are rare, but they come sort of out of nowhere. I wrote about one I had this summer, you can read about it HERE.

They also feel much different. I remember having cravings in the beginning, they felt like I was going to die if I didn’t have a drink right away – my hands would start sweating and I felt the craving deep down in my belly, almost like a bad hunger pain. My body craved it and I could almost taste it! In my mind the thoughts ran a-mile-a-minute, as I was trying to figure out if I should drink. The reasons to drink were always same: to feel better, or not to feel at all. Today when I have a craving, I get that feeling again, I want the escape, but I don’t have the physical part with it. It’s more of a mind game that I create, rather than an actual physical reaction.

In early recovery I learned how to deal with the cravings by running the “tape” all the way through. To do this you recollect you’re last drinking experience or your worst drinking experience and you imagine that if you drank this time the same, exact thing would happen! So playing the tape all the way through is visualizing in your head the outcome of your decision to drink. You play the scenario through, then you continue imagining what would happen if you don’t quit after this one glass, or that one night of drinking.

For me, playing the tape through, would mean maybe starting with a bottle of wine but ending by getting boxes of wine and being in a blackout for days. Then waking up on the kitchen floor, some random day, then having missed work, and getting fired. I am not sure even how my kids would fit into this scenario… but I am sure they would be taken way to somewhere safe. Then, because I would be feeling so guilty and shameful about getting drunk, I would continue drinking. Once again, I would become obsessed with drinking and eventually, I would lose everything that I have worked so very hard for. I would again end up alone, depressed and suicidal. This is not the path that I want to be on ever again.

journey

Another question that someone asked was: Do you still go to meetings?

Yes! I do. I go at least once a week and more if I am struggling with life or just need a better connection. Meetings and support network are crucial and help me stay grounded. There is something about one alcoholic talking to another that is so very amazing – I am always reminded that I am not alone! It is also a great place to reach out to newcomers. A huge part of my recovery is reaching out to others. I probably talk to a person in recovery at least once a day. I also read sober blogs, I connect to the recovery community on Twitter and Facebook, and I maintain this recovery blog. You may think that this is lots to do but in reality it is not. It has all just become a part of my life that I don’t even see as different – it’s like taking a shower and brushing my teeth – I just do it every day!

So you see, there is no magic cure available that will make it easy for us to quit our addictions and bam! have a wonderful life. It takes much effort and work after we stop using to clean out the years of destructive behavior – this may require some help from a professional or a recovery support program. And even then the work has to continue if we want to continue to be happy. My alcoholism does not go away just because I got rid of the alcohol. There is a huge part of the -ism that I need to continue working on, and for me that means relapse prevention, meetings and support network.

Sobriety is a Process and Not an Event

-form alcoholrehab.com

The idea that people just give up their addiction, and automatically live happily ever after, is a myth. This is because there will have been a reason why the individual fell into addiction in the first place; that reason will probably still be there when they get sober. The usual motivation for why people turn to substance abuse is an inability to cope with life– they will have been relying on ineffective coping strategies. If this individual just gives up alcohol or drugs without making any other changes, then they will just be back where they started. More work is needed so that this person is not only able to escape their addiction but also build a good life. This is why it is sometimes said that recovery is a process and not an event.

Getting sober is only the beginning. But if you continue on this path, you will find true happiness and be finally OK with just YOU. Your recovery and being part of a recovery community will become a second nature. You will have many amazing memories to last a lifetime. You will learn how to appreciate the simple things in life and embrace them. You will create lasting relationships and find real friends. You will see gifts in any situation no matter how difficult they may seem. You will be able to truly see all of the amazing gifts that sobriety can bring! You will not be able to imagine your life any other way.

Yes, this is all possible.

If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with alcohol addiction, please click the Find Support link for an extensive list of support groups. Also please check out the links to many useful resources in the sidebar, and always feel free to contact me anytime at sobercourage@gmail.com.

You may also find some great inspiration and support from all the awesome sober bloggers listed in the side bar under POSTS I LIKE and RECOVERY BLOGGERS, as well as Sober Courage page on Facebook and Sober Courage on Twitter.

Advertisements

13 Comments Add yours

  1. Flone says:

    Reblogged this on Blurred Clarity and commented:
    My mind is quiet because my heart is filled with peace and love – MFJ Posting others work as I continue to work on other stuff. Show these folks some love

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reblogging!

      Like

  2. robertlfs says:

    Thanks for this very thoughtful post. I really like the “process not event” concept. There is something very cathartic in recognizing that there was a reason why we lived into our addictions. I got sober when i was 32 years old which means that I had a lot of time to practice and live into those reasons.

    There was one cord that struck in me in the alcoholrehab.com quote on process not event – the “build a good life.” Part of recovery for me today is living into the true self – and that is a very much an in process operation. I don’t have a desire, craving, or much of any situational experience where drinking alcohol or taking a controlled substance even crosses my mind as a possibility. Comparatively, I have a friend who is allergic to nuts in all forms. She is very cautious about eating nuts because she has been rushed to the emergency room because of same. I view alcohol pretty much the same way. I know where that first drink is going to take me.

    This living issue though is more of a challenge. I can still get into self-pity, anger, resentment, being unaccountable, self-centered . . . and that list goes on. I am certainly much much better in dealing with these issues than when I first got sober. But to me, the true excitement is in the building of life. Not staying away from the negative or problems, but living into the solutions and seeing where those solutions will take me.

    And if I think back all of those years ago, the only thing I wanted when I got committed to being in detox was an end to the blackouts and the insanity in my head. I sit here today, on a Saturday morning, with a spouse and family I could never have conceptualized when entering detox; looking toward the formal retirement from a career that I could not have even imagined; getting ready to launch into another retirement career that will be even more exciting than what I do today; and that list just goes on and on. That has been the process and not the event of recovery. I only assume the process will be complete when I take my last breath.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Thank you Robert! Love this comment! Not much to add. All great and amazing. I love the excitement of building a life, not just existing because when I was drinking I was just existing. Life is so much more and I am grateful that I get to live it now too!

    Hope you’re having a great Sunday with the fam too. Hugs.

    Like

  4. Very well stated…as usual, Magz. Coping mechanisms – this is a term my sponsor used a while back and it made sense – alcohol wasn’t the problem, it was the solution for so many things…until it itself became a problem. Double whammy. These days, it’s about dealing with life without that coping mechanism, or watching out for other artificial methods. Connecting with my HP and reaching out – these are the things I need. And as a confession, reading your words about recovery community, has been yet another not-so-subtle nudge by my HP to get my butt back to meetings. I am a little embarrassed to state how long it’s been since I have hit a mtg (think months, not weeks) and everything I have read and heard in the last two-three weeks has had the theme of fellowship and meetings. So yeah, I get it, HP…lol.

    Anyway, fantastic post, something that newcomers should read, and not-so-newomers like me should re-read 🙂

    Hugs
    Paul

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Get your butt to a meeting! Lol! You know I can’t tell anyone what to do really, but I know what works for me. I think the longest I went without a meeting wsa bout 2 months, right after I got married, and then another time around 3year mark and I almost relapsed that time. It scared me! So I vowed to a minimum # of meetings that I will go to (my hubby too), which is once a week. I occasionally miss it, but it’s rare.

      The best part is that is that if the shit hits the fan, like when my Mom died, I still have a connection.

      Hang in Paul! Sending many hugs.

      Like

      1. I went to one the other day. It was good. Either one tonight or tomorrow for sure. Good to reconnect with fellowship, sponsor and step sponsor as well.
        Thanks Maggie 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Awesome! And they welcomed you with open arms, right!? Feels good!

          Like

        2. Hey Paul, don’t you have a bday coming, or did I miss it!? Well, happy belated or coming up! (Sorry, i don’t remember the exact date 😒 )

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank You Magz for stopping by my recovery blog! And your post is very true my dear. Especially the thousands miles starts with that very FIRST STEP! When you finally get “sick and tired of being sick and tired”, just choose Recovery, you’ll LUV yourself latter for IT! LOL. Hugs & Blessings my dear friend!

    Author, Catherine Lyon 🙂 XO

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Cattherine! Thanks for stopping by! Great comment and so very true! I think recover is like brushing teeth, if you don’t brush every day, they may still look ok, but eventually cavities will appear! Lo!

      Sending hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So true Magz! And recovery luv your way 2!!

        Cat

        Like

Share your Sober Courage here!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s