It is impossible to change things that have happened in the past, and the future is unknowable. All that people really have is the present moment, but they can fail to appreciate this if their mind is always fixated on the past or future. Those who are too concerned with finding success in the future can spend all their life waiting for it to happen. The waiting becomes a habit and before they know it the individual is on their deathbed. As John Lennon once famously said, life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.
It is true that patience is a virtue, but the idea that good things happen to those that wait should not be taken too literally by people in recovery. In order to get the most from their life they will have to take action. Giving up alcohol or drugs is a fine start but recovery is a process and not an event. This means that in order to get the most from sobriety the individual will have to do some more work.
When people become sober they are making a decision to do something positive that will change their life going forward. This act of taking charge of their destiny needs to be continued if the individual hopes to build a successful recovery. Nobody else will be able to do this work for them. This making things happen has to start from day one. For example, those individuals who are in rehab will need to make use of the resources that are available to them there. As the saying goes, you can bring a horse to water but you can’t make them drink. It is up to the addict to take responsibility and perform whatever action is needed. It is there sobriety at stake after all.
If the individual just waits for things to happen in recovery they can end up disappointed and disillusioned. This is because getting sober does not give the individual a free pass in life. Action will be needed in recovery because:
* A common reason for why people fall into addiction is that they find life hard to deal with. When people escape alcohol or substance abuse they will return to this situation unless they take action.
* The addictive personality is a set of characteristics that many addicts share and it is this that may be at the root of their problem. Unless they take action the addictive personality can continue to cause difficulties in recovery.
* One of the great things about recovery is that the individual gets a chance to achieve their dreams and aspirations. The sober person will need to work to make these a reality.
* If people do not take action in recovery they can become stuck. This is dangerous because it may lead to relapse or dry drunk syndrome.
* Those individuals who following a recovery program will be expected to take action in order to benefit from it.
One of the biggest dangers with waiting for things to happen in recovery is that the individual can lose sight of what they already have. They spend their recovery waiting for things to get better without fully realizing how great things are at the moment. Like many people in the modern world they have become goal orientated. This means that their focus is achieving goals and they look for the fast way to achieve them. The process of making these goals a reality tends to be viewed as an inconvenience. This is not a good way to live because people spend far more of their time working towards goals then they do achieving them. The goal orientated person will almost instantly create a new target as soon as they have accomplished the last one – this means that they are always moving the goal post. This insures that the individual is always waiting for their life to happen.
It makes far more sense that people should be process orientated rather than goal orientated. This means that they are able to enjoy the process of achieving a goal and they do not just view it as something that gets in the way. The joy of achieving something only lasts for a brief period of time, but those who appreciate the journey can have something to feel good about every day.
There are steps that people can take to ensure that do not delay enjoying their recovery such as:
* Meditation techniques, in particular mindfulness meditation, can teach people to live in the present moment. It trains the individual to bring their attention back to the present moment every time it slips into the future or the past.
* People can make the decision to be more process orientated when trying to achieve things. They will still have goals but they will also make sure that they enjoy the process of making these goals a reality.
* It is good to make some sacrifices for the future, but it is also recommended to devote plenty of resources to the present. There is no guarantee that there will be a future for anyone so it is best not to delay living a comfortable life.
* People in recovery can have expectations for themselves that are too high. It is good for people to push themselves but sometimes they will need a bit of pampering as well.
* The aim is progress and not perfection. The individual probably already has plenty in their life to feel good about.
* A gratitude list can be a good choice because it reminds the individual of all they have to be grateful for right now.
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How Rehab Works
Drug or alcohol rehabilitation works at DARA by taking you away from your daily triggers and stresses that lead to your drug or alcohol use in the first place.
Make a Decision
DARA can use a model to help conceptualize the process of recognizing there is a drinking or drug problem and taking action to do something about it.