Do you remember what it was like when you were a newcomer to addiction recovery? If you were anything like me, you pursued recovery. You went after it, you studied it and you spent a lot of time building up your addiction recovery fundamental skills.
As time goes on, you feel a little more comfortable in your addiction recovery. You feel that you can take on some new things that aren't directly related to addiction recovery. You have begun to develop some of your life and coping skills and maybe the fire that you had in your belly when you first entered into addiction recovery has dwindled a little.
Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Is this just a way of tricking yourself into thinking you don't need to put as much work into your addiction recovery as you once did or are you now truly benefiting from all of the initial hard work that you did put into your recovery?
Oh...were you thinking I had an answer to that question? No answers here, just more questions and isn't that the way it should be? If you get to the point where you feel you know everything then what else can you learn right? I'm definitely still learning.
I can tell you this about myself, I don't go to meetings anymore. I haven't in a really, really long time. For me, I get my sharing and identifying needs met on line. At least I feel like I do. But I wonder to myself, am I letting my guard down? Am I not putting in all of the work that I should be to ensure a successful addiction recovery?
See I have the benefit of actually living with a newcomer to addiction recovery. I see on a daily basis all of the work that goes into this person's addiction recovery and I am reminded of what a struggle it is in the very beginning. I almost get to relive what it was like and it drives home the fact that I never want to go through all of that again.
There is a school of thought in the AA/NA rooms and that is that the newcomer is one of the most important people in the room. When I was the newcomer I thought that this meant that I needed the most help, that I was most likely to relapse, etc, etc. But now that I'm not the newcomer to addiction recovery anymore I can truly understand the meaning of this.
If you can remember back, there are certain stages that are very common for people who are very early in addiction recovery to go through.
You Catch Yourself Leaving The Back Door Open - even though you are putting all of this time and energy into your addiction recovery, your actual addiction can be making you do some self destructive things. You catch yourself doing things which would make it possible for you to use again in the future. If you are not completely on the look out for this type of behavior it could really screw with you later down the line. You are leaving the back door open for your addiction to sneak back in somewhere down the road. This type of behavior can be really hard to deal with because it cements the fact that you really are in an addictive thinking pattern...you may start to question if you can ever overcome this.
Walking around in a pink cloud - "Hey I can do this, no problem", "It's like I'm experiencing things for the first time"...remember? Since so many people experience this "pink cloud" stage of addiction recovery it seems like it must be some sort of defense mechanism that our brain kicks in to get us through in the beginning. But then...
Moving out of the pink and into the gray - Just when you are getting used to your life in the pink cloud...the bottom drops out and lets you fall on your ass. Things don't seem so picture perfect anymore. Again, this is so common that it seems like it are the needed steps for our brains to take to be able to deal with a new life in addiction recovery. This is the point where the real work begins. No more can you rely upon your recovery feeling great all the time. You must now want to deal with the reality of life in recovery or you just aren't going to make it through.
What do you do with yourself? - You're having a hard time thinking about how to spend your time like a "normal" person. You have spent so many years doing self destructive things with your free time that you don't have the first clue about some constructive pass times. You have to think about the old saying that "Idle hands are the devil's playground"...it's a saying for a reason. You can get yourself into some trouble if you don't have things set in place to keep you busy.
As I'm sitting here writing I am coming to the realization that my pursuit of recovery has not really slowed down, it has just changed. Because I am getting a little further along in my recovery I don't have to struggle as much not to use. I am now able to focus my attention to other areas of myself that need it.
But as AA/NA members have already discovered and as I am now discovering, it is essential that we be reminded of where it is we came from to get to the point we are at today. Identifying with newcomers to addiction recovery truly is an essential tool to my own recovery. Just as hearing others who are further along in recovery is an essential tool to the newcomer.