‘Five things NOT to do in early recovery’ by Peapod

“Ah, the curse of the addict: isolation. So easy to do, yet so destructive. It’s connectivity to others that help many of us to move forward in recovery.  Connecting to others allows us to deal with stress better, we lead happier lives and we both help and are helped.”

“Ah, the curse of the addict: isolation. So easy to do, yet so destructive. It’s connectivity to others that help many of us to move forward in recovery. Connecting to others allows us to deal with stress better, we lead happier lives and we both help and are helped.”

Some choices and behaviours are more likely than others to trip us up. I’ve gathered five red recovery flags together to highlight potential pitfalls for the unwary. But who am I to be prescriptive? Everyone needs to make up his or her own mind about what to do or what not to do.

I’ve known people who’ve avoided most of the things on my list and still come a cropper and I’ve known folk break all the “rules” and not wobble too much. So take what you like and leave the rest…

1) Avoid romantic relationships early on. The ‘love’ can act like a drug in itself and the relationship can become the focus of life meaning that healthy activities, and in particular recovery-oriented activities, may suffer. The rock that wrecks the ship tends to be when the relationship goes wrong. Develop a relationship with yourself first and avoid choppy waters.

2) Don’t hang out with old friends. Using or drinking buddies not in recovery tend to continue to use or drink. That’s kind of self-evident, really. In addition, there’s often something very uncomfortable for them in having a friend in recovery. There’s a tendency not to like that.

I’ve lost count of the number of times folk I’ve known have relapsed due to a visit to a friend or allowing a friend to drop by with a small gift. Give yourself a break and stay clear of folk who are still dealing with the problem.

3) Don’t hang out in old haunts or at events that you associate with drinking or using. There’s an old recovery saying: “If you sit in the barber’s chair long enough, you’ll get a haircut”. Pubs, clubs, concerts, weddings, funerals, stag nights and parties can be runaway relapse trains for those reaching for recovery.

Find new places to go to. In several large cities and towns there are recovery-oriented activities and events to enjoy and there are more on the way as the recovery movement gains steam.

4) Avoid the ‘first’ drink or drug. An old AA favourite pearl of wisdom, this was based solely on experience in the early days, but it’s backed up by the neuroscience and by other evidence.

The quiet whisper that says: “It’s okay now, my system is cleared out, I’ll be okay with a glass of wine or a line of coke or heroin” is compelling, but we’re back in treacherous waters if we listen. For those of us who had serious dependence issues, going back to ‘safe’ use is not normally an option.

5) Don’t isolate. Ah, the curse of the addict: isolation. So easy to do, yet so destructive. It’s connectivity to others that help many of us to move forward in recovery. I was talking with a lovely friend in recovery earlier this evening and we laughed at how I use that word to death, but I make no apologies.

Connecting to others allows us to deal with stress better, we lead happier lives and we both help and are helped. In one study, just adding one sober person to your social network reduced relapse rates by 27%.

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