As a licensed clinical social worker, I have worked in many settings – schools, hospitals, hospice, and most recently, as a psychotherapist in private practice. I have worked extensively with people recovering from substance abuse, eating disorders, and many other types of addictive behaviors.

Recovery from these types of disorders is extremely difficult. Many factors can complicate recovery, from an underlying struggle with depression, anxiety, or trauma, to family and friends who are not supportive. Recovery can feel like a lonely place much of the time, and the road to wellness may feel bumpy, unpaved, or impossible.

While recovery is a lifelong process that may look a little different for each person, there are some basic truths about what is helpful in recovery and what is not. Here are my top 4 suggestions for those who may be new to recovery:

My top 4 suggestions for those who may be new to recovery Click To Tweet

1. Do what works for you and leave the rest.

Many people swear by AA or other support groups, and it’s true those groups are highly successful. There are many other people who don’t like attending meetings or sharing in group settings. There is not one “right” way or one “wrong” way. You may find time with a therapist or trusted friend or family member is more appealing. Perhaps you add exercise to your daily routine or connect with God for the first time in years. The important thing is that you ARE making changes, and you are adding new people, places, and things into your life. But you and you alone are in charge of your recovery. So do what you know is good for you, and don’t worry so much about what you “should” do.

2. Surround yourself with truth.

So much of addiction and addictive behaviors are shrouded in deceit. Your body and mind will inevitably find themselves at war with one another as you decide which path you will choose each and every day. In terms of people, you might seek the counsel of a sponsor, therapist, friend, or clergy. You can also read about your addiction; inform yourself about the “whys” behind the “what” of your behavior and instincts. Educating yourself on things like withdrawal, post-acute withdrawal, relationships in recovery, and a multitude of other topics can bring awareness to and validate much of what you are feeling and experiencing.

3. Meditate daily.

In my current practice, I seldom counsel a client to whom I do not recommend meditation. I have seen the benefits time and again in my own life, as well as in the lives of so many individuals, couples, and families, I have had the privilege of working with over the years. Meditation has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety, promote a more peaceful attitude, and improve sleep. I have recently begun recommending the Welzen app, as it provides a variety of topics for meditation and includes visualizations to help with sleep. One of the most common symptoms of post-acute substance withdrawal is sleep disturbance. Listening to a visualization or meditation gives you a healthy place to focus your thoughts rather than letting your mind wander to a negative place.

Welzen Meditation App!

Download Welzen Meditation App!

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4. Be gentle with yourself.

You may feel on top of the world in recovery one day, only to find yourself irritable, depressed, or frustrated the next day. Friends, this is LIFE. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Not every day will be a sunny day. You take the good with the bad, and you remind yourself that the healthy choices you make today will eventually bring you the healthy life you so desire and deserve.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, my thoughts and prayers are with you. Remember this: NOTHING is impossible. I’ve seen lives changed in amazing ways when a person puts their mind to wellness and just makes a choice one day at a time not to scratch that proverbial itch. Friends in recovery, you are amazing and you can do this. One. Day. At. A. Time.

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