Things to Remember when the Road to Recovery gets Hard

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Patricia Sullivan MD, MPH

Table of Contents


Heal your Mind and Body

Addiction hijacks your brain, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH). This means that not only do you need to get the drugs out of your system and recover your health, but you also need to relearn healthy ways of thinking and acting.

mind and body wellness after substance abuse treatmentHealing from addiction can take a long time. Even when you have gotten through the toughest parts, you still may not be back to normal. Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms (PAWS) can last for weeks, months, even a year.

Remember that you are a valuable human being and take what you need to recover healthily. Pushing or shaming yourself may backfire and lead to a relapse.

Meditation, exercise, healthy eating, and plenty of sleep are in order. Your needs are different than anyone else’s; maybe you need more exercise and sleep, while the next person needs to meditate and focus on regaining much-needed nutrients. Whatever the case, listen to your body and do what it needs.

Patience – Rome wasn’t Built in a Day.

You quit drugs and alcohol, so why isn’t your life full of the promises of recovery yet? Well, it takes time. Be patient with yourself and your recovery. This may mean that you make plenty of mistakes in sobriety; however, as long as you stay sober, you will continue to make progress.

ABT-self care-types of self care-1The only thing that will set you back now is to go back out using your drug of choice. Even the mistakes you make are building blocks to the stronger foundation and better you that you’ve been working for.

You can’t expect yourself to spend years in addiction and then turn it around in recovery in a day. Be patient and trust the process. All with long-term sobriety know how difficult it is to endure early sobriety.

From people not trusting you, 100 roommates, PAWS, and feeling like you work hard all day every day and have nothing to show for it. You are not alone. Many in early sobriety remember watching the clock feeling as though time had stopped and all that existed was a constant sense of panic and negativity.

Breathe and realize that you are doing the work you need to become the better you. If you stick with sobriety, your life will become better than you can imagine.


In active addiction, sometimes, there is a sense of constant panic and anxiety, oversupply of drugs/alcohol, and relationship meltdowns. By contrast, sobriety can seem downright boring at times.

ABT-Sober Summer Fun- Yoga and meditation-1Change takes time, patience, and hard work. No one likes change, but in times like this, it is necessary. When you look back after obtaining some time sober, you will like where you are compared to where you have been.

One of the bigger contributors to relapse is boredom. Early sobriety requires that you learn ways of entertaining yourself. Otherwise, you may reach a point where the monotony of everyday life becomes unbearable.

Find activities that you enjoy and throw yourself in them. Even great pastimes may pale in comparison to the extreme highs of drug and alcohol abuse. However, the roller coaster of emotional and mental swings is not sustainable for long periods of time.

Practice, not Perfection

If, at first, you don’t succeed, try again. This age-old idiom is especially true when it comes to addiction. No matter how much time you have, perseverance is the name of the game. No one comes into life with an instruction manual. We learn as we go and pick ourselves up when we fall. There is no mistake so great that warrants you to give up trying to do better. Nothing.

One of the 12-step sayings, “Practice, not perfection,” is how you should view your life. You will probably not do everything right the first time, but keep coming back, and you will get there. Life is not about being perfect but doing the best we can with the tools and the time we have while we are here.

ABT_self-esteem and substance abuse_ healing the mind and soulSome days you will be a difficult human being to be around. You may even destroy some friendships. Though this seems alarming, as long as you do what you think is right and take advice from others, you are doing your best.

When in doubt, reach out to those in the sober community and ask for help. The first times you lean on another person, the situation is difficult. We are not accustomed to trusting others, let alone relying on them in active addiction. However, people who have been in the program a little while have been where you are and understand. Find a sponsor and cling to this person if you have less than a year in recovery. You may think you know what your sponsor will say before you call, but you don’t.

Telling yourself, you can do it alone, or you don’t need to bother your sponsor is not true. This is your disease saying that you don’t need the strong bonds and trust in another person when, in fact, you do.

Leap of faith and immerse yourself in the sober community and 12-step program around you. You will recover, and your future will be beyond imagining if you remain open-minded and willing.

Susana Spiegel

Susana Spiegel

Susana has experience writing about addiction, treatment, mental health, and recovery. She holds a Bachelors in Arts of Theology from GCU, and has a deep empathy for those who are struggling with addiction, as she is in recovery herself.

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