How to Handle Your First Year of Sobriety

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If you’ve recently completed treatment for a substance use disorder, then you’ve reached an important milestone in your recovery; however, this is not the end of your journey. Rather, it is only the beginning.

Leaving treatment may have you thinking about the first 30 days, and ultimately the first year of your sobriety. This can be a challenging and emotional time, but the rewards of sobriety often greatly outweigh any struggles or sacrifices you endure along the way. While everyone’s recovery journey is unique, here is how you can thrive in the first 12 months of sobriety.

Create a New Routine

For years, drugs and/or alcohol were your focus. Now that you’re in recovery, you need to find a new focus. This may include involvement in a new job, class, hobby, etc., but it is about more than that. Creating a new routine also means avoiding people and situations that may be detrimental to your recovery. This can be a difficult and painful process, but it is necessary to prevent yourself from falling into old habits and relapsing.

Form a Support System

Even though you may need to distance yourself from certain people during the first year of sobriety, that doesn’t mean that you should cut yourself off from any interaction with others. On the contrary, social isolation can be detrimental to your sobriety.

While in recovery, the key to your success is forming a support system of family members, friends, 12-step group members, etc., who want to see you succeed and are willing to help you through the ups and downs you’ll experience in the first year.

Take the Time to Enjoy Things

Recovery takes a lot of work, particularly during the first year of sobriety; however, it also involves a lot of joy as well. Allow yourself opportunities to appreciate the happiness that sobriety can bring. This will help you have the right perspective to overcome the challenges. Try hiking, take up yoga, or volunteer. Find the hobbies and activities that spark joy.

Things to Remember

You are only human, and it is inevitable that you will make some mistakes during the first year of sobriety. Here are some things to keep in mind that can help you achieve success.

1. Don’t Keep Secrets

Not being forthright with others about the recovery process can lead to stress and anxiety, which are unhelpful, especially during recovery. Trust the members of your support system, and be willing to admit when you’re struggling.

2. Don’t Avoid Your Emotions

You’ll experience a lot of emotions in your first year, especially in the first couple of months. Your substance of choice was a way to mask your feelings. Those strong emotions will be difficult to experience. Lean on your sponsor, your support group, counselor, etc. Talk through those emotions. The coping mechanisms you learned in treatment can help you acknowledge and manage those difficult feelings.

3. Don’t Worry About What Other People Think

Not everyone will understand what you’re going through during recovery. Don’t worry about what they think. Seek out the people who truly support and care about you.

4. Don’t Become Overconfident

At about the six-month mark, you may start to feel confident and comfortable with your sobriety. While this is great, this can also make you vulnerable to relapse triggers. Avoid the people, places, and things that can trigger you. Don’t hesitate to turn to your support system when you need help; that’s what they’re there for.

The first 365 days will not be easy, but these suggestions can help you make the most of your opportunity. You are worthy of sobriety; you are enough.

For more information, advice, and tips to help you throughout your journey, check out our other recovery blog posts.

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