Addiction is a complex intertwining of both physical and mental disease that takes time and perseverance to unravel. Although everyone experiences addiction differently, the basic journey to recovery involves dismantling the life you built up around your addiction, clearing the slate, and starting over.
Starting over can be the best part! Not everyone gets this chance. You can make your life exactly what you always wanted it to be, long before it started spinning out of control. And now, you have the added knowledge of all the skills you learned in rehab to make healthier choices. This is a chance to turn over a new leaf, start fresh, and create a new life to be your happiest, healthiest self.
Be sure to surround yourself with people who love you and care about your recovery. Find friends, family, and others who will help you make healthy choices, hold you accountable to your sobriety, and provide support on your bad days. Cut ties with people who are toxic in your life, who trigger your desire to use, or are unsupportive of your recovery.
At the end of the day, you must take care of yourself. Let go of any guilt or shame and be kind to yourself. You have spent so long indulging in self-destructive behaviors that it’s time to spend time working on loving yourself. Forgive yourself for past mistakes and move on. You will only hold yourself back from success if you can’t be kind to yourself.
Thinking about starting over may inspire hopeful dreams of what could be, and may also instill fear of losing what you have. We are all wired to fear loss. The natural fear we have of letting go is that we'll end up with nothing: but that’s not what really happens. Letting go and starting over means you have a clean slate, and there’s nothing to hold you back from going after what you really want. You can still look back and see what you had that is worth keeping. Maybe it’s a hobby you abandoned, or a relationship that was great until your addiction screwed things up. Maybe it’s a dream you always had but didn’t have the guts to pursue.
So go ahead, use your addiction as an excuse to wipe the slate clean. Use rehab as a way to find out what you really want in life and how to get it. You’re going to have to be willing to clean house and let some stuff go, but what you replace it with will be infinitely better.
Perhaps the most important step you can take following your recovery from addiction is to figure out what your goals are in life and to set about following those goals. It's up to you to decide what you want to be, do and have in life, but you have to make that decision, create a plan of action, and carry it out.
You have a unique and rare opportunity. Take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy yourself. Getting sober is not the end of something; rather, it is the beginning of something greater. Do your best to seize this opportunity to do everything you always wanted but didn’t have the chance to do because of your addiction.
Don’t be afraid to make a new beginning in your life by doing all you can for your sobriety, health, and happiness. Remember, your recovery is worth it. Let go of your former self and embrace this new chance at life.