In 12-Step circles, clean time is a type of emotional and psychological currency that recovering addicts cherish more that all the material riches in the world. If you have some substantial clean time under their belt, you can think back when you took your first tentative steps in your recovery journey and the emotional tug-of war that took place inside your soul. Learning to work a program a recovery while living their daily lives AND dealing with the temptations and triggers of their environment provided many white knuckle rides and periods of uncertainty.
While those first days and weeks were extremely stressful, you went to meetings, aftercare programs, leaned on your support system of family, friends and recovering peers, and most importantly you continued working your program of recovery. Slowly, but surely, you become more confident in their sobriety and the healthy and proactive lifestyle of recovery become second nature. When looking back, the addict looks upon those struggles with humility and appreciates what they have become and looks to the future not by the limitations, but by the infinite possibilities afforded to them through their hard-earned recovery.
Getting Stuck in Neutral
No matter how long you have been clean and sober, you know that recovery is indeed a journey and the path you travel can be full of obstacles. Temptations, cravings and urges are the obvious pitfalls that addicts can face; however, addiction is a cunning, baffling and powerful disease, and it can also find subtle ways to re-enter your life. Those times can occur when you feel stuck in your recovery, or those times when you don’t feel you are moving forward at an “acceptable” pace. If you have encountered those moments where your recovery is stuck in neutral, it can cause some worry and you may ask yourself ‘what am I doing wrong?’
The truth is that you really aren’t doing anything wrong. Working a plan of addiction recovery is like an exercise program, and the components of your recovery plan are the exercises. Over time, those tried and true components of your “recovery workout” may start losing some of its effectiveness. As with any exercise program, plateaus and common and they can be overcome with minor tweaks in the overall routine. The following are some tips and suggestions that can get you out of your recovery rut.
Getting Out of the Recovery Rut: Tips and Suggestions
Schedule an Inventory
For many recovering addicts, a common roadblock to moving forward in recovery lies deep within the storeroom of their soul. Oftentimes addict may feel something negative and unsettling that is slowly gaining traction, but they can’t quite put their finger on the source. If you are encountering this unsettling feeling in your own recovery, chances are that you may be experiencing the growing strength of a resentment or fear. When these feelings emerge, it is time to grab some paper, a pen, and find a quiet space to conduct an honest personal inventory.
Both the Fourth and Tenth Steps state the essential nature of not only making a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves, but also to take that personal inventory. Personal inventories are important throughout your recovery because it gives us the chance to be brutally honest at that moment and we can uncover truths about ourselves that either we may not want to admit or maybe have been gathering some dust in a forgotten corner of our mind. Calling ourselves out on our own business can be difficult, but we need to do so in order to uncover the roots of what (or who) is holding us back. When performing your inventory, some of the questions that you can ask yourself can include the following:
• To whom and what do I have resentments towards?
• What are my fears?
• Is there somebody that I need to make amends?
Always remember to write down what you find in your inventory. Having the roots of what is holding you back in black and white and on the printed page forces you to confront these issues. Having a written inventory also provides the blueprint on how you can address and overcome these roadblocks.
Are You Stuck? A Sponsor Can Help
When the wheels seem to spin and you aren’t getting any traction in your recovery, you need some hands on deck to give you a push. Sponsors provide the strongest and most steady hands when it comes to getting the rubber back on the road. Sponsors are a kind of sobriety life coach who have experienced and pitfalls and obstacles that come with sobriety and can provide those who are stuck in neutral the tools they need to free themselves from the muck. Do you have a sponsor that you regularly meet with? Awesome…get them on the phone. You don’t have a sponsor? Find one.
Let Go and Let God…Daily
In general, human beings find it difficult to admit they have character traits that prevent them from growing and maturing, and this is especially true for those who are in recovery from substance abuse. The word defect carries strong negative connotations and if those in recovery start dwelling on those things, it can bring their recovery to a standstill. The Sixth and Seventh Steps spell out the need to let our Higher Power remove our defects of character and our shortcomings. For those in recovery, these two steps need to be worked on a daily basis and serve as a reminder that the journey of recovery is about progress and not perfection. These two steps serve as a reminder that you need to trust in the process and the changes that you seek will unfold gradually and at the right time.
Look to the Newcomer
Sometimes the spark of inspiration you need to bring your plan of recovery to new heights comes from those who are new in recovery. When a newcomer speaks at your home group meeting or another open meeting, take the time to listen. Oftentimes a common reason your recovery gets into ruts in because your recovery plan may be become routine and it may have become comfortable. When the newcomer speaks of the uncertainty and fear regarding their first tentative steps in recovery, it can strike a chord within you and remind you of your own journey and provide you the motivation to redouble your efforts.
The gift of sobriety is not meant to be kept to yourself; you need to share these gifts who those who seek what recovery has to offer. Volunteering your time and giving back is an important part of working a program of recovery. Whether you volunteer to chair a meeting, work at a local drop-in center, or decide to mentor a newcomer in recovery, your actions help put your recovery into motion. Volunteering your time not only makes you feel fulfilled and wonderful, you are reinforcing those important principles that have been taught in treatment and around the tables. Find any and all opportunities to give of yourself.