Addiction recovery does not end when you leave rehab. It is a lifelong journey. Traveling the path is rewarding and worth the effort. It also has some steep climbs and a few potholes along the way. During the first year of sobriety, it is especially important to have the support of trusted advisors and friends to help keep you on the right path.
What to Expect in Addiction Recovery
No two people experience recovery the same way. Still, there are enough similarities that one of your best resources will always be other people who are further along than you are. You can learn from what they’ve experienced, so stay connected to support groups and 12-step programs.
During your first year of recovery, three important to-dos will serve you well in staying sober.
- Learn to recognize the situations, people, and activities that may trigger a relapse.
- Develop a list of strategies that you can rely on daily, especially if you find yourself in a high-risk situation.
- Know what your action plan is if you do relapse.
What can you expect in your first year of sobriety?
Sober Living: Year One
The ups and downs on the recovery road are likely to be more noticeable and perhaps more intense in the first year. Ensure you have your support network ready and know that the road will be less bumpy ahead. Three significant year-one challenges include Pink Cloud Syndrome, post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), and risk of relapse.
Pink Cloud Syndrome
Immediately after a successful time in addiction treatment, you may experience the Pink Cloud Syndrome—a common feeling of extreme elation related to your new, hard-won sobriety. You feel hopeful and confident, perhaps for the first time in a long time. This phase cannot and does not last forever, and when you come down off that pink cloud, your sobriety may be at risk. The hard work of recovery hits home, and the responsibilities of the daily grind may suddenly seem overwhelming. If you know this crash is coming, you can be prepared for it.
Long after detox and for up to a year or more after rehab, you are still recovering, physically, from your substance abuse. Your brain chemistry and body do not snap back in an instant. PAWS stands for post-acute withdrawal syndrome. As your body seeks to rebalance itself, you may experience symptoms such as periodic insomnia, anxiety, mood swings, energy fluctuations, and difficulty concentrating. This phase is not experienced by everyone, and it does eventually end. If coping gets to be too much, reach out to your sponsor or therapist about how to navigate PAWS.
Risk of Relapse
It’s important to understand the risk of relapse and to have a clear-eyed understanding of what it means. Data show that approximately half the people in recovery will relapse at least once. Adhering to your treatment plan will help avoid relapse, so will avoiding high-risk situations.
You should understand that relapse is not failure. Don’t think your treatment plan is not working or that all your efforts have been in vain. Use relapse as a reset. Look at your relapse prevention strategies and figure out how to shore them up. Immediately seek out a meeting with your support group or an appointment with your counselor.
Managing Early Sobriety
To manage your sobriety during the first year, try the following ideas.
Set manageable goals from day to day. A certain workout routine or walking a set number of miles, planning easy but healthy meals, and getting enough sleep.
Follow a schedule centered on those healthy goals and choices. One of the best indicators of a successful recovery is starting early with a workable schedule. A calendar or list you can adhere to will help you avoid threats to your sobriety like boredom (not enough to occupy you) or stress (being overwhelmed by work, emotions, and life).
Create sober relationships. These relationships will sustain and support you in your sobriety. Doing so will also help you avoid old relationships that were part of your substance misuse life.
Reward yourself. Living a sober life is all about self-care. After all, you are tending to your physical and mental health, sense of wellbeing, and longevity by avoiding the addiction that once had you in its grip. Don’t forget to make room for specific rewards that honor you and the challenging task you have taken on; a weekend trip to visit an old friend, a movie, or something as small as a piece of fresh peach pie from the local diner.
Reach Out to Serenity Light Recovery Today
During the first year of recovery—and for years after that if desired—Serenity Light’s aftercare program helps clients maintain sobriety after discharge. Continued treatment for addiction increases your chances of staying sober.
Our aftercare includes weekly group meetings as well as sober events and activities. Learning from one another and having a community of supportive professionals and peers will enhance and underscore your own successful recovery.
Serenity Light Recovery’s aftercare program consists of a weekly aftercare group meeting, which will be the foundation of connecting with others at sober events and activities. Following up with others in a similar stage and path of recovery assists in accountability and helps foster new friendships. If you have questions about our detox, rehab, or aftercare programs, please contact us today through our online form or by calling us at 855.658.6109.