Journey of Recovery
Danielle Williams, MS, CACII, LPC
After a year marked by a global pandemic, social isolation, rising unemployment, and political and social turmoil, an overwhelming majority of Americans are looking forward to a fresh start in 2021. There has been a significant rise in substance misuse, overdoses, and mental health issues over the course of this past year. Hopefully this trend does not continue into the new year and we start to see more and more people start their journey of recovery.
Recovery from a substance use disorder happens through a series of positive changes accomplished over time. For people in recovery, 2021 brings an opportunity to continue building on these changes. I challenge you to wake up daily and ask yourself, “What can I do for my recovery today?”
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Be grateful. Each morning or night, take a minute to write down one thing you are grateful for. It can be a person, a feeling, a material possession, an opportunity, a place – anything. Keep a journal noting these items over the year and look back on it at the end of the year to see everything you have to be thankful for.
Be mindful. Mindfulness meditation has been proven to increase chances of long-term sobriety for those in recovery from a substance use disorder. It provides tools necessary to take life one moment at a time. When you live life in the moment, you will experience less stress and anxiety by reducing worry and negative thought processes. Just 10-15 minutes of mindfulness meditation can increase your chances of a successful recovery from substance misuse.
Schedule your day. Make a list of things that need to be done, and then schedule them. The more structure you have to your day, the less likely you are to run into stress by forgetting to do things or running out of time. Stress is one of the most significant relapse triggers, so anything that keeps stress at bay is helpful in recovery. Some things that can be added to your schedule include wake up and sleep times, meals, engaging in hobbies, exercise, meditation, and recovery activities such as attending recovery meetings.
Use a recovery support app daily. There are many to choose from:
- SoberGrid allows you to create online profiles and interact, support, and engage with other people in recovery using a platform similar to Facebook. You can also use the app to create anonymous check-ins about whether you’re sober or not, your mood, and what’s going on.
- SoberTool is an easy way to track your clean and sober days. The app includes daily motivational messages and reminders to keep you on target.
- WEconnect provides daily reminders to stay on track with your recovery plan. You can create reminders to call your sponsor, go to a group meeting, or meditate — anything you need to provide that extra push.
- AABigBook This app gives access to the full text of the Big Book, along with a meeting finder, podcasts, prayers, and personal stories. You can use the app to bookmark meaningful passages, make notes on individual chapters in the comment section, and search for specific keywords.
- IAmSober tracks sober days and milestones, helps build new habits, and provides ongoing motivation from a community of people who get it.
Network. You can’t be totally well all on your own. For social wellness and belonging, make sure to build a social support network, engage regularly with others, and work to make sure you feel comfortable with others in everyday social interactions. Make a list of people that you care about. If there is anyone on that list you have not talked to in a while, give them a call today. Pledge to make at least one connection with another person each day through calls, emails, or direct contact.
Celebrate each success. No matter how small, celebrate the successes on your recovery journey. You don’t have to change everything right away. Small steps of progress still take you forward. Simply make one or two manageable changes at a time, and, if you keep at it, you’ll achieve something great.
Get involved. Interact with your peer recovery support. Helping others in recovery helps you just as much as it does them. Go to a recovery meeting. There are several virtual options for social distancing purposes. You can find virtual resources at InTheRooms.com or SmartRecovery.org.
Danielle Williams is a certified addictions counselor and a licensed professional counselor. She provides substance use disorder counseling to patients at HopeHealth on Palmetto Street in Florence. Williams has more than 10 years’ experience in treating adolescents and adults with substance use disorders as well as mild mental health disorders, anger management, couples and family counseling, compulsive gambling, and trauma.