Obviously the first key to recovery is admitting you have a problem. People who do not think they have a problem will not seek help. However the first phase of recovery, (after you have admitted there is a problem) is to focus on a few primary areas. First, make sure that your primary concern is abstinence, not using drugs or alcohol. You have to focus on the things you need to do to make sure that you do not return to old behaviors and triggers that cause you to use drugs and alcohol again. In addition, we want you to start to get educated and gain new knowledge of what addiction is and the effects it causes. Knowledge is power, knowledge is wisdom, with knowledge comes understanding and the ability to change. Then we also want you to begin to learn refusal and coping skills, so you can use these skills to learn to deal with the stress and situations around you that previously had you running to indulge your addictions.
The first phase of recovery can seem overwhelming, but in reality it is not. Just think of it as if you were learning a new language and you heard these foreign words the first time. Of course they seem foreign to you at first because you don't know what they mean or how to use them. It's the same with addiction recovery. Yet as you go and learn, you become familiar with the meanings of the words and you gain understanding. Soon you are speaking a new language, in our case living a new life of recovery. It becomes a natural, reflex action. Then you get all the benefits from it!
The beginning of the recovery journey (Phase 1 as I like to call it) is an exciting phase for those hungry and broken and seeking a better way of life, because they want the information, knowledge and tools necessary to overcome their addiction. For those who do not want to deal with their addiction problem and have not or will not admit their addiction is a problem, Phase 1 is often difficult and full of conflicts, because they are still resisting getting sober. They have not let go of their addiction, they had not surrendered it, it still controls them and they still wish to indulge in it.
It’s not enough to tell addicts that recovery is a better way of life. We must show them how it works. Just as it’s not enough to tell me the computer is a good tool and can make my life easier. You have to teach me how it works for me to get the full benefit of it. It’s the same with recovery.
Now remember, you can have all the information and knowledge you need, but if you don't use it, it's worthless. You get no benefit from it. So the bottom line is it’s not about what you say, it’s about what you do. I will often tell addicted people I am helping that they shouldn't make any promises to their loved ones, friends or employers regarding their stopping their addictions. Why? Because those promises carry no weight anymore. The addicted person has made many promises and has failed to live up to most, if not all of them. Their friends and loved ones and families won’t believe the words anyway. What the friends, families, and loved ones will believe, is seeing a changed life, based on the new actions and behavior of the addicted person.
The great news is that the addicted person can change people’s perceptions of them. You can become looked at as a completely different person, and you can win back the respect and admiration of your friends and family, but this is accomplished by actions. Not by words.
If someone talked about going to Paris all their lives but never went, it would just be talk. In order to experience it, they have to go for themselves. If we saw a baseball player who had a terrible season, he struck out a lot and batted only .150 (not a good batting average) but said "don't worry next year I will have a great year". Yet the following year he also struck out a lot and batted .150 again, we would say you’re not a good baseball player. If he kept insisting he’d have a great year and never did, his credibility would be shot. However, if he just went out and performed well for a couple years, where he got a lot of hits, didn't strike out and instead batted .300, we would then say he is an awesome player. The proof is in the pudding. His actions and performance speak for itself.
An addicted person can win back the respect and love and admiration of their friends and family, but it comes from action, not words. And it comes from a willingness to do the things necessary to embrace this recovery lifestyle. Not just talk about it, but do it. I can tell you from a personal experience it was well worth it and one of the best moves I ever made. I am delighted that safeguards and protocols are in my life today that prevent me from even taking a step back to a life I don’t want to revisit. YOU can do the same!