So you’ve successfully remained drug-free for 365 revolutions around the sun! That’s quite an accomplishment considering the first year of recovery can often be the most challenging. This year has been full of many “firsts” for you and has pushed you to learn new things about who you are and who you want to become. By now, you may have created a stable support structure that has helped you remain focused on your goal of self-improvement and health which will help you stay on the path to recovery for years to come.
Achieving the 1 Year Milestone
In the first year, you learn a lot of new things about yourself and your surroundings, including the best ways to interact with everything and everyone around you. During the first year of recovery, you’ve probably learned how to take care of yourself in ways you may not have thought of before like focusing on finding balance in your life. You’ve already learned that recovery isn’t just about not doing drugs; it’s about making your life better as a whole and not having to use substances to deal with feelings, both positive and negative. The first year is a fantastic milestone to celebrate while also keeping in mind that there will be many more years to come.
The National Institute of Health research has shown that 1/3 of people who can stick to their recovery plan and make it through the one-year milestone are more likely to stay on the path and avoid relapse or reoccurrence of substance use. People who are most prone to relapse are those who have not built strong coping skills and a sense of self-efficacy. This is why the first year of recovery is so crucial for many people after treatment; it’s when you lay down the most important groundwork for your future sobriety.
Keep up with Recovery Maintenance
Now that you’ve been in recovery for a year, it’s time to make sure you stay the course by creating an outline or plan for the future. Along with a written out “recovery plan,” it’s also vital to speak to your therapist or professional drug counselor for advice on the best ways to continue refueling your enthusiasm for recovery. The professionals at treatment centers are experienced and knowledgeable about long-term recovery and have a wealth of knowledge and can refer you to someone who can help. Continuing to practice positive coping skills and exercises even a year into recovery is important to make sure you don’t get too “comfortable” and start slipping into old habits and thought processes. This is essential to keeping relapse at bay. Continue to “check-in” with yourself to make sure you are using all of the tools you learned in counseling and make its goal to grow these skills and abilities.
Stay Active in the Recovery Community
After your first year of recovery, you may feel you have returned to “normal life” and are maintaining a job, social life, and participating in new hobbies. Be sure you’re also still making time for your support groups where you can make life-long friendships and connections with people who are also in recovery. The mutual support people in groups can provide for each other are essential to staying on the right path, especially because everyone in the group has a shared core goal; to succeed. Even though your friends outside of the recovery community can also be a great support system, it’s always feels nice to have people who truly understand your previous struggles with addiction. You’ve done the hard work in treatment and have made it through a year in recovery, but make sure you are continuing to thrive with the encouragement of others with whom you share a special bond. Sometimes, those people are going to be the best ones to give you solid advice when you need it most.
Keep a Journal
Writing down your thoughts, ideas, experiences, and anything else that is going through your head can be an incredibly therapeutic and essential habit that is useful for staying true to your recovery process. If you have a bad day and begin to think negatively or feel that you don’t want to be alone with your thoughts, write them down! Not only will it feel good to get these thoughts out on paper, but it’s also educational to go back and read previous entries from earlier in your recovery. This is a good way to notice patterns in your thought processes while also seeing how far you’ve come over the past year and more. The journal can also be used to make lists, writing down your daily schedule, and your goals for the day and more. Not only does journaling your thoughts help use parts of your brain that may have been negatively affected by addiction, but it’s also useful to learn a little bit more about yourself as you discover your new, drug-free self in recovery.
Continue to Learn New Skills
One of the most impactful things to do now that you’ve overcome the obstacles during the first year of your road to recovery is to begin to challenge yourself by learning new life skills. Now that you’ve done a lot of self-exploration, it’s time to continue and ramp-up your self-improvement goals. This could be something as simple as learning how to cook, or garden, or something as fundamental as doing your laundry. Everyone’s goals are different, but the process of learning these life skills will help you feel not only accomplished but also very self-sufficient. Never again will you resort to feeling helpless or down on yourself, because this phase of recovery is all about being your best self.
The first year of recovery is something to be very proud of while also knowing that it’s just the beginning of your new lease on life. Soon you will be celebrating more milestones in your recovery, year after year, continuing to build yourself up as a stronger and well-balanced person.