What if a roomful of recovering addicts could write down their best advice and give it to other addicts—those who are just starting on their journey toward recovery? A bunch of them did, and the advice was separated into four categories. If you are an addict who is thinking about getting help from an alcohol addiction center, consider this advice from the people who know the road you’re walking.
Develop 12-Step Support
There are a lot of sayings in Alcoholics Anonymous, many of them about the 12 steps. They work if you work them. Go for 90/90–90 meetings in 90 days.
The point is that the 12 steps will form the foundation of your recovery. You don’t have to be religious; remember that for some people, their Higher Power is GOD: Good Orderly Directives. Even if you don’t believe the 12 steps can help you, go through the motions and find out. Attend meetings. Try a couple different meetings until you find one that suits you. Don’t judge the people who are attending the meetings, because you really don’t know them yet. Read the AA literature. Talk to people and get phone numbers. Pick up the phone and call them—it won’t matter how many times a day you call someone you meet in an AA group. Sometimes there are activities outside of the regular AA meetings, and keeping in touch with your new contacts will be a way to find those activities.
Outside of your AA group, be careful about telling other people that you’re going into recovery. Judgmental people will be willing to write you off. Once you’ve decided you trust someone enough to tell them, take extra time to think about it. You don’t have to tell anybody at all; there’s a reason why the international group is called Alcoholics Anonymous. Even if someone asks questions, you don’t have to answer; just be vague. If you’re uncertain whether to tell someone, talk to your sponsor. It will be important only for your family members and your therapist to know. If you do tell someone and you find out it was a bad decision, just shrug it off, because mistakes happen. You can live without that person.
Avoiding the Extremes
You have to work to achieve balance and support in your life, and that’s a difficult thing. Begin by taking care of yourself. Get a lot of rest, and find ways to pamper yourself. Buy yourself a new suit and eat in a favorite restaurant. In the real world, not many people truly go out of their way to do kindnesses for other people, and so this is a time when you should be kind to yourself.
Write down things about yourself so that you can remember who you were before addiction took hold. In AA we say “Act as if…”, and you can act as if this new way of life is normal. Act as if you are equal with all your new companions from AA. Act as if everything will be okay, because it will. Leave behind the people who got high with you or those who made you feel bad. Stay away from the old, negative places.
Rediscovering Your Sexuality
For many people, there are interconnected memories concerning sex and substance abuse. Part of your recovery depends on developing a healthy body and practicing your sexuality in healthy ways. Take a break from sex—just a time-out. Ask your partner to accept your short period of celibacy while you re-learn who you are. Believe it or not, the way you think about your sexuality will change. If you don’t have a significant other right now, then don’t worry about searching for one for a while.
As you seek help from an alcohol addiction center, take the time to become reacquainted with yourself. Remember to keep it simple and put first things first. It works if you work it. No matter where you go, there you are.