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What to expect of someone new to recovery

What to expect of someone new to recovery.
There have been a lot of questions and discussions about early recovery, and what to 'expect' of someone new to recovery. I think it's all too common to think that once someone gets clean and in recovery, every thing should be okay.

For me, the first year, it was all I could do to just stay clean. I threw myself into meetings and working the 12 steps. That's what it took for me to establish a firm foothold in recovery.

Before I ever started using, I was selfish, confused, had low self esteem, was codependent, had no patience, would rather lie than tell the truth, I could go on and on. Once I started using, all of these 'character defects' were just magnified a thousand times.

Recovery is a slow process, or at least it has been for me. It took that first year of just going to meetings and trying to work the steps to the best of my ability before I was even able to make a start on those 'defects' and start making changes in my attitudes and behaviors.

I did not get sick overnight. Understandably, I did not get well overnight either. My recovery is a lifelong process for me. The undesirable attitudes/defects still pop up from time to time, and I have to work on them.

To those of you who love an addict, I know we addicts create more pain and destruction than our minds can ever grasp while in the grip of addiction. I think the greatest gift you can give your loved ones and yourself is to seek recovery for yourselves, whether it be through a program like Naranon, or counseling, or therapy. Please be patient with us and understand there is so much damage to repair, and we are only capable of doing so much in one day.

I will always have guilt over what I put my oldest daughter through all those years, all the grief and suffering I created for my parents. I also know that the greatest gift that I can give them or myself or anyone is to continue on that road of recovery and try to make myself just a little bit better of a person each day. When I finally began to see the tip of the iceberg on all the suffering and pain I created, it was overwhelming for me, and I didn't even know where to start. That's why I kept going to meetings and working the steps. That's where the transformation and healing started to work for me. My greatest amends to my loved ones have been through daily living in recovery and changing my life for the better.

If your addict is truly sincere about recovery, miracles will eventually happen, and you will start to see God working in their lives and yours too.

I just felt I needed to share this as I see so many loved ones struggling with addicts newly in recovery.

I am an addict/alkie, and have been clean/sober since August 5, 1990.
Re: What to expect of someone new to recovery.
I appreciate your post.

"When I finally began to see the tip of the iceberg on all the suffering and pain I created, it was overwhelming for me, and I didn't even know where to start. That's why I kept going to meetings and working the steps."

May I ask how far into your recovery were you when you felt this way?

What should my expectations be?
Juliett55 Re: What to expect of someone new to recovery.
This is so helpful to read. Patience is the hardest thing for me, but reading your post is giving me more strength.
Re: What to expect of someone new to recovery..


May I ask how far into your recovery were you when you felt this way?
I'm pretty sure I was around one year clean when the reality hit me that just staying clean wasn't cutting it. Don't get me wrong, by far, the MOST important thing I do each day is to stay clean and sober. However, recovery is so much more, and that's when I really started to understand just how sick I was, and that my work had only begun.
I remember I used to get so frustrated, seeing the progress that others had made, and I just couldn't see any growth in myself. Today, with so much more information on just what meth does to an addict physiologically, I now understand why that first year was SO hard for me. I was virtually taking my body to meetings, but the mind didn't follow for a long time.
I couldn't sleep. When I did, it was a troubled, interrupted sleep. I was scared to death to go to sleep because I had so many using dreams. I would sleep with a light and the radio on because the 'silence' of not living in chaos was so uncomfortable to me. I would cry at the drop of a hat. My mood swings were extreme. My emotions were raw.
I still remember the day I was so pissed off at my mother, and out of the blue, it hit me that I had taken on a lot of the behaviors/attitudes that I despised the most in my mother. I truly believe that's when the emotional healing started to begin. I was able to take an honest look at my own faults, and start making changes in my life to become a better person. I found my mother a lot more tolerable when I was able to finally look at myself and not her! She still hasn't changed, but I have! 
What should my expectations be?

I can't give you a solid answer to that because each addict is different in his/her recovery, and each loved one of an addict has differing opinions on what he/she is willing to live with when it comes to an addict in recovery.

This I do know. The higher my expectations, the lower my serenity. For me, with the active addict in my life (oldest daughter, almost 29 years old now), I have zero expectations of her. I have detached myself from her because she has no desire to change her life.

You have to decide what you can live with and what you can't.

I was pretty much on my own support-wise from any family members once I got out of rehab because I moved to the town where I went to rehab. I had to or else I would have been dead within a week either from my then husband beating me to death, or relapsing. There was no way I could have gone back to the same environment and stayed in recovery and been safe. My first year was meeting after meeting after meeting, and hanging with the winners in 12 step programs.

I know, to my parents, it was frustrating because even though I was clean and sober, they felt I was spending too much time doing these things, when in fact, those things were exactly what I needed to save my ass. They have chosen not to educate themselves on addiction or how it affects the entire family. When I first went to rehab, they were sure I didn't need to be in there with 'those people'. (denial, and it isn't a river in Egypt either) Today they are proud of me and grateful I have been able to stay in recovery, but I am glad I moved to where I did because it did put distance between me and the loved ones who would have been 'toxic' to my recovery had I been closer.

I don't know if I've answered your questions very well, but those are just my thoughts.

Many hugs to all of you with loved ones in recovery!

Re: What to expect of someone new to recovery.
Thank you for sharing your story. I am trying to learn what early recovery is like. I am so uncomfortable around my husband because I don't trust him.
Loraura Re: What to expect of someone new to recovery.
What should my expectations be?
Expectations are just resentments under constructions.

Not having expectations at all allows you to see things as they are, not in comparison to how you wanted them to be.
Penel0pe Re: What to expect of someone new to recovery.
For me, the first year, it was all I could do to just stay clean.

I remember being told how important it was to focus completely on recovery for the first year, how important it is not to make any major decisions, start new relationships, or otherwise distract myself from recovery in the first year. It was suggested to me that I would not be the same person at a year clean as I was with a month clean - and that was the absolute truth. I was a better, happier person at one year clean... but I had expectations that I would be "Normal" at a year clean - whoops...

And I remember thinking "A year is a LONG TIME!"

Now, in hindsight, I COMPLETELY understand why these things are suggested. My first year in recovery was a combination of a "Pink Cloud" and a rude awakening - I found KCI seven months into recovery (Via SFJ's Site) so I could ask someone, ANYONE:


Of course the answer was simple, "You'll start to feel better when you do - everyone is different." Nothing truer has ever been said - Here I am, creeping up on 3 years clean, still suffering from CRS (Which gets a little better day to day,) still having physical difficulties (Which I learned last Wednesday are MUCH improved after chasing SFJ and the gang all over San Francisco,) but just now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel - I think I AM going to get my life back... or that a new life is on it's way...

The first six months after I stopped using meth I was unemployable - after the first 3 months meth free, I stopped getting loaded on ANYTHING - I was finally clean! Three months after that I was able to return to work... but that was ALL I could do, work, eat, go to meetings, and sleep. After a year clean, I went to a doctor who gave me wellbutrin, and that helps a lot... right after I celebrated 2 years clean I had surgery and lots of medical issues that I am working on to this day... hopefully, when January 2007 rolls around I will still be clean (Because the only day I am sure that I'll stay clean is TODAY - I have no plans to use again, ever, but can promise to stay clean ONLY for today..)

We all recover our lives at different rates. That first year, though, is a tough one... so...

What should my expectations be?
I suggest you have no expectations, as they are just premeditated resentments. Expect nothing and you will never be disappointed, hope for everything and some of those hopes will become reality.

See also:

Stages of stimulant recovery

What are the meth recovery stages?

Recovery and Treatment of Crystal Meth / Methamphetamine

Back to Crystal Meth & Methamphetamine Questions, Answers & Advice

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