September 30, 2019
Recovery is an ongoing process and those fortunate to have long-term recovery have one thing in common- an ability to recommit themselves. It has been observed that people often get sober and as a result expect that life should go their way—a reward, in a sense, for their “good” behavior. However, that is not generally what happens. In fact, many individuals report that their lives often get worse before getting better. While this may seem unfair, it can be a blessing in disguise- for it can ensure that the motivation to remain sober becomes intrinsic. For example, a person gets sober and then receives a new job, a romantic relationship and everything external in their life takes a positive turn. Inevitably a negative situation will arise and the individual may struggle to cope and feel that there is no point to being sober because life is not going their way. In contrast, when a person is staying sober despite difficult circumstances initially, they are able to increase their distress tolerance and to realize that recovery is about slow internal growth and not dramatic external rewards. It does not matter what the conditions are in early sobriety for an individual—positive or negative, for over time difficulties will arise. It is imperative to learn how to deal with the good, bad and indifferent waves that life will inevitably bring forth.
Initially, getting sober may feel exciting, new and fresh—the world suddenly appears different and a person may feel better mentally and physically. However, this “pink cloud”, as many have labeled it, will wear off and “reality” of this lifelong venture will set in. At this time it is crucial to have maximum recovery supports in place as well as outside help for co-occurring mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, etc. (ie, individual therapy and medication management-as needed). The In-Home Addiction Treatment Institute (IHAT) gives providers the tools that they may need in supporting clients in getting sober in their home environment. The IHAT Institute will train providers how to best support clients when recovery itself may start to feel mundane and tedious and to support them in exploring all facets of their lives to see what actions they need to take in order to get back on track. This is the process of “re-committing” and it involves acknowledgement of weakness in an aspect of recovery and then self-correcting.
There are many components to having stable recovery. Some common areas in which sober alcoholics may lose their commitment over time are:
- Attending mental health care treatment as recommended
- Obtaining proper sleep
- Maintaining balanced nutrition
- Attending regular mutual-help meeting (A.A., SMART Recovery, Refuge Recovery, Women for Sobriety, etc.)
- Staying in contact with sober peers
- Not engaging in other addictive behaviors (ie, shopping, sex, gambling)
- Taking prescribed medication that has been assessed as necessary
- Being honest
- Pursuing spiritual practice
- Following through with daily responsibilities (ie, work, paying bills, chores)
- Giving back to others, volunteering
- Involvement in healthy relationships (friendships, family and romantic)
Most individuals who are in long term recovery have had a time when they were lacking motivation in one area or another. The IHAT Institute training model can teach providers how best to support clients in observing what aspect of life is out of balance and to work on making the necessary adjustments. Creating small and attainable daily goals can help a person to get back into their routine. It is important to reach out for help and to talk with others in their support network about these challenges—for no one needs to be alone on this journey.
By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC