Relapse is not uncommon. Some people find it difficult to overcome their addictive behaviors for the long term.
Once clean, the addict can easily fall back into old practices and habits. Recovery requires commitment, discipline and a network of support. The old adage “it takes a village” is clearly demonstrated in recovery.
Many 12-step programs encourage a range of safety nets to ensure success. Some of these safety nets include working with a sponsor, attending meetings regularly, and being of service to others that still suffer. Literature is also a key component to not only understanding the disease, but it also offers solutions to many of the day-to-day triggers that an addict will encounter. The definitions below offer a crash-course in recovery language.
In a 12-step program, a sponsor is someone who has followed the recovery program and can offer their experience, strength and hope to someone newly clean and sober. Addiction is a lonely and isolating experience for many who suffer. The sponsor can not only relate to this common dynamic, but also offers hope that there is freedom from their addiction. They will walk the individual through the steps of recovery. A bond is usually formed in this relationship. The newcomer can find a confidant and accountability.
Most 12-step programs have a world-wide network of groups that hold meetings on a regular basis. Meetings are critical to helping the newcomer find other individuals who have walked in their shoes. Hearing others share about their experiences and their new found hope will begin to break down the mental wall of “no one really understands.” Meetings also open up the opportunity for fellowship in a whole new way. There are often monthly celebration meetings for milestones of recovery.
Developing a network of like-minded people is critical. It is easy to fall back into old habits and old playgrounds. Meetings are the perfect place to develop healthy friendships and accountability.
Being of service to others is a key tenant to most 12-step programs. Once you experience freedom from your addiction, you want to pass that on. Helping other newcomers, making coffee before a meeting, volunteering to help at group events—all these things will give you a sense of belonging and ownership. Regular attendance at your group meetings is also service since someone may be there who needs to hear exactly what you have to share.
Taking the focus off of ourselves and learning to look to others brings dividends that are hard to quantify.
Take your recovery seriously. It is a life or death proposition. Invest as much in your new found life as you did in the life you are leaving behind in addiction. Find a group to attend regularly. Work with a sponsor. Find your place to be of service to others. Recovery is most successful when approached one day at a time. For each day you have, make the most of it. Surround yourself with those who are there to help. Soon you will find yourself part of someone else’s support system.