Congratulations! You made it to recovery! You’ve finished treatment, collected your first AA milestone coin, transitioned to methadone, and finally backed away from your drug of choice. You started connecting with other sober people and sharing your story. Your family is proud of you! You’re making new friends in recovery. You might even be enjoying your life, which is full of gifts and gratitude. You have arrived, and you’ve decided that you’re here to stay.
Early Recovery Is Freaking Awesome
Everyone handles the excitement of early recovery differently. For many of us, it’s just a relief that the vicious cycle of substance abuse has stopped. Finally, the misery of active addiction is over. The physical cravings have subsided, and we aren’t running in circles. For other people, recovery is like a pink cloud. Sure, the facts of our lives haven’t changed that much—but we feel different, as though we were wearing a pair of rose colored glasses.
We like being sober, even if it does feel a little new and different. And there is a huge recovery to connect with! From 12 Step meetings, to friends from treatment, to the thousands of sober people on social media, it’s easy to get immersed in recovery. When you’re just starting out, it’s a great idea to get in the middle of your recovery community. Make friends, learn about other people’s stories, and educate yourself about addiction. As you become more confident in your recovery, you may do more. Some people start recovery blogs, to share what they’ve learned about living day to day without the insanity of active addiction. Soak up every bit of your recovery—the investment you’re making in your recovery now will pay off in a big way.
What Happens In The First 30 Days?
Short answer: a lot. The first 30 days can be an emotional, physical, and psychological whirlwind. Many people spend this time in treatment, where they can detox from their substance of choice with professional support. Other people use support groups, therapy, or social media for the help they need. There’s no wrong way to get those sober days. It’s normal to dive deeply into recovery at this time. If you’re in an inpatient treatment center, you won’t have any other choice! It’s natural to get into a pattern where you eat, breathe, and sleep recovery. Being physically sober may feel huge to you—and in fact it is a life changing experience.
The first 30 days in particular can be eye opening. We get a look at ourselves, and it isn’t always flattering. Did I really do that? What have I done? Many of us feel intense shame in this period, or plain shyness—we’ve forgotten how to be around other people, without a drink or a drug. It may feel counterintuitive, but connecting with other people in our community, even when we feel weird or awkward, is healthy for our recovery. We learn more about how to stay sober, and gain the support we need. Although not everyone we meet is going to be our favorite person or our new best friend, they will all have something to offer to your recovery. Whether it’s a suggestion, a helpful tool, or their personal story, people in recovery share what works with each other. It’s how we stay sober—we learn more about what works for us, and talk to other people about how they’re staying on the straight and narrow.
What Do I Do After Treatment, or after My First 30 Days?
Everyone’s recovery is different. Some people feel mentally clear, physically cleaned out, and balanced after only 30 days. Others need much longer in order to return to sanity. Many addiction professionals say that 90 days is a good “baseline” for recovery because that’s when physical detox is completed for most people. It’s also a time when many people experience a decrease in cravings, post substance abuse withdrawal symptoms, and begin to feel confident in their recovery.
The early days of recovery are exciting, new, and sometimes disorienting. Remember that if you remain on this path, you’ll have many experiences. Some will be joyful; others may overwhelm and frighten you. Talk to other people who have successfully navigated their recovery, and learn how they did it. Invest in a sober future by making the most of your early recovery. Take good care of yourself, and learn what’s working for other people. This is the start of an incredible journey for you. You’re not alone as you take these first steps. You’re in good company! This is just the beginning.