The first year sober can be exciting and terrifying at the same time. For some, just the thought of not having to use or drink is liberating, and for others it’s a prison sentence. The good news is that no matter how you feel you a. don’t have to pick and b. you too can recover and stay sober long-term. Here are some things you might expect in your first year sober.
First Year Sober
Super Excited vs. Total Bummer
You are on fire! The first few days to weeks (sometimes even months) you may feel like you are on cloud 9, and then all of sudden “BAM” you just realized you can’t ever drink or use again. Suddenly, you feel as though your entire world has come crashing down. Others may find themselves on a roller-coaster of these emotions throughout the year, so do not be surprised if you are all over the place with the acceptance of not being able to drink or use again. This part takes time to really accept and be OK with.
Identifying, Not Comparing
You may feel like you don’t belong anywhere and find yourself not like those around you in your first year sober. In some ways you know you should be in the rooms, but there is this side of you that wants you to be different. Try identifying with others’ stories, rather than comparing, and you will be amazed at what you learn about yourself.
You may hear people in the room say, “no major changes,” yet you are also told you have to change everything. This can be confusing in your first year sober, so let’s clear things up a little. Changes are happening daily and early recovery is all about change. Changing things in your life for the benefit of recovery is a good thing. Impulsively changing things that could jeopardize your recovery is what they mean when they say, “no major changes.” This is why sober support and a sponsor are crucial to have when building a program of recovery. You will need others who have gone through life sober to bounce ideas off of before making any life changing decisions.
Post-Acute-Withdrawal Symptoms (PAWS)
Expect to have some post-acute withdrawal symptoms pop up for at least the first 2 years of your sobriety. This is actually a great relief, because all those “feelings” you are having can be identified and you are not alone in feeling them. Working a program of recovery, talking with sober supports, eating balanced healthy meals, lots of water, and rest will help alleviate these symptoms.
Learn more about Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome: Symptoms of PAWS
Relapse Warning Signs
Being aware of relapse and knowing what signs to look out for can help you from traveling down this path. The common myth is that a person who is struggling in sobriety will always relapse. This is not true and a person can detour a relapse by taking suggestions and throwing themselves deeper into working their program of recovery. The first year is about learning how to stay sober one day at a time, and allowing you to feel while learning how to cope with life without the use of drugs or alcohol. Do not be so hard on yourself and just try your honest best.
What are the relapse warning signs I should be aware of? Relapse Prevention
One Day At A Time: ODAAT
5 things that will help you during your first year sober:
Attend 12-step meetings like AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) or NA (Narcotics Anonymous).
Work the12- steps with a sponsor and then apply the steps to your life.
Take suggestions, follow directions, and be open to listening to others experience on how they stayed sober.
Focus on the positive things in your life (gratitude list) and do not dwell on the negative.
Give yourself a break and live in the moment. Recovery is a process, just like life is, so don’t rush it.
We understand that your first year sober can be challenging at times, so let us be there for you. Stay connected with our recovery team on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google +. You can also contact The Watershed Alumni Department directly at 1-877-975-483 for extra support. You are not alone and we are here to help you walk through your first year clean and sober. Together we recover.Tags: 12Steps, AA, how to stay sober, NA