Have you ever seen a quick-change artist—a magician or other stage performer who needs to rapidly (even instantly) change from one outfit to another? It can be an impressive bit of showmanship, often eliciting gasps and applause from dazzled audience members.
In the fictional realm, a case could be made that superheroes are quick-change artists. How do they switch from their secret identity clothes to their heroic duds (and back) so quickly? And what does Superman do now that there are precious few phone booths to change in? Also, where does that guy keep his smartphone in that skintight suit of his?
But we digress.
We mention quick-change artists and their super-heroic kin to make an observation about the nature of change and the nature of people experiencing change: Most of us want change to happen in a blink—and it very seldom does.
This is an important idea for almost everyone who feels impatient about the pace of change in their life, but it has special relevance for those in recovery from a substance use disorder. Giving up drugs or alcohol is a significant and positive change, but it does not happen instantaneously—and lasting sobriety does not necessarily arrive in a flash either.
Let’s consider the importance of both change and patience when it comes to building a firm foundation for ongoing sobriety.
The Return to Sober Living is an Ongoing Process
It would be wonderful if you could simply snap your fingers and magically change from a person struggling with drugs or alcohol into a person fully and confidently sober. But that is not how reclaiming sobriety works.
Instead, getting and staying sober is a process. That process starts with treatment—detoxification and rehabilitation. Detox allows you to get substances out of your system in a safe environment where temptations are eliminated and medical supervision is available. Rehabilitation—complete with individual and group therapy as well as care for co-occurring mental health disorders—helps you learn the skills, strategies, and resources that will support your sobriety once you return to your day-to-day life.
Again, treatment is how the process starts. That process continues once your time in a residential treatment center comes to an end.
Next Steps in the Sobriety Process
With the help of ongoing support from your recovery center, you can start to reshape your life so that you are better positioned to maintain your hard-won sobriety.
You may need to repair some relationships damaged during the time you were using drugs or alcohol. You may need to end some other relationships with people related to your substance use or whose behavior toward you is toxic in ways that might undermine your sobriety. You might make changes to your diet, your level of physical activity, and your sleep schedule in an effort to improve your physical and mental health, which by extension supports your ongoing recovery.
These changes—and many others that might be necessary for you to stay sober—will take time. You won’t, for example, be able to repair every relationship in a single day or make significant lifestyle changes immediately. The important thing is that you steadily make decisions and adjustments that strengthen the foundations of your recovery.
Sometimes a Setback is Part of the Journey
Change does not always happen smoothly. Sometimes there are setbacks that require us to rethink our approach to a problem. When it comes to sobriety, a setback might take the form of a relapse.
A relapse, of course, can be quite discouraging. But if you experience one, it is essential to remember that your recovery journey—your effort to make positive changes over time—is not over. Your next move should be to return to treatment so that you can get your recovery restarted. A return to treatment provides an opportunity not only to get sober again but also to consider what additional changes you might need to make in order to minimize cravings or other issues that may have tripped you up.
It would be wonderful if getting sober was as simple as entering a phonebooth as Clark Kent and exiting it as Superman. But flashy quick changes are not, as a rule, a part of the process that leads to long-term sobriety. Instead, steady, intentional change over time is what is required.
Change the Direction Your Life is Headed
At French Creek Recovery Center in Meadville, PA, we are committed to helping you change your life for the better. If you are struggling with drugs or alcohol, we can help you regain and maintain your sobriety. We can also address co-occurring mental health disorders (including depression, anxiety, and more) that may be tangled up with a substance use disorder.
We can’t promise quick change. But we can promise to provide personalized treatment grounded in evidence and expertise and delivered with empathy. The first step toward a significant change in your life is to reach out to French Creek Recovery Center. We are eager to support your return to sobriety.