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10 Tips for Each Stage of Your Recovery Journey

Marcel Gemme By Marcel Gemme | Last Updated: 6 June 2024

Overcoming Substance Use Disorder is a process that takes time, effort, routine, structure, dedication, and discipline. It is not without its hurdles, obstacles, and setbacks. Yet, the payoff, in the end, is enormous.

The recovery journey is different for each person in terms of what it takes, the process, and the length of time to achieve lifelong sobriety and move past your addiction. We want to offer some general tips to help you as recovery begins, during recovery, and as you move past your addiction to lifelong sobriety.

  • What You'll Learn

Beginning Recovery

The recovery process begins after drug rehab is complete, whether this is a long-term or short-term program. Generally, a drug rehab program helps each client establish their aftercare process. Here are ten tips to consider when beginning recovery:

1. Establish routine, structure, and schedule:

The benefit of residential drug rehab is that structure, routine, and a schedule are provided for you. It is good to keep the same routine going for at least the first 90 days until you begin to modify things to fit your life. For example, the time you wake up, eat, exercise, work, attend meetings, counseling, or other therapy. It may also include your time with family and friends, personal growth, hobbies, etc.

2. Create a comfortable and safe environment:

Being in early recovery means having a place you feel comfortable and secure in, where you can establish your routine, structure, and schedule. If this involves moving, this is something to consider.

3. Make meetings, support groups, or recovery coaching a priority:

Depending on your financial situation, it is critical to have a stable point of contact with someone or a group. Experts recommend attending at least one meeting a day for a few months. Recovery coaches are an excellent option because of their accessibility.

4. Do not be afraid to ask for help from family or friends:

If you have stable family and friends that are aware of your situation, ask for help when you need it. It is essential to have people you can reach out to when you need support.

5. Establish a list of short-term goals:

It can be challenging to consider long-term goals initially. Short-term goals are an excellent way to reassure yourself of your abilities and confidence and witness success. It is a marathon, not a sprint.

6. Do not lose track of your diet, sleep, and physical activity:

Part of establishing your routine, structure, and schedule is ensuring proper sleep, diet, and regular physical exercise. While this sounds simple, it can be challenging. Yet it is vital to your physical and mental health to keep these three things consistent. It takes discipline.

7. Establish a routine with work:

Some experts recommend not rushing back to work, yet this depends on your job and situation in life. However, production is great for morale, and working helps keep your routine and your mind occupied.

8. Try not to create significant life changes in the beginning:

Depending on your situation, avoiding significant life changes in the beginning, is recommended. The goal is to establish routine, structure, and healthy habits. Allow changes to occur naturally until you feel comfortable creating significant changes.

9. Become aware of your triggers:

As you go through the recovery process, the list will grow, but it is vital to know what triggers stress, anxiety, depression and urges to use drugs again. Keep a journal and write these things down. Speak about it during meetings, counseling, or with your recovery coach. Develop a plan to manage or avoid these triggers.

10. Establish a firm foundation of gratitude:

A successful action for many people in recovery is a gratitude journal and writing down the things you are grateful for. These are helpful reminders when the road gets rough, and it is a good idea to keep this journal going well past your recovery.

Continuing Recovery

Generally, within the first 90 to 120 days of early recovery, things should be moving in the direction you want, and you should have an established routine. If not, that is ok, as this process differs for everyone. There can be speedbumps, obstacles, barriers, or minor setbacks; this is normal. Here are ten tips to consider as you continue your recovery.

1. Continue to work on avoiding risky situations:

No one says to avoid social settings or people altogether. However, thinking you can be around someone using drugs after maintaining sobriety for a few months is dangerous. It is vital to know your limits at this point during recovery and not test the waters you know you are likely to drown in.

2. Relapse or a slip-up may occur:

It is naïve to think that a relapse would not happen, especially if life throws overwhelming challenges at you. However, it is critical to be prepared and know how to pick yourself up if it happens. Relapses happen, but it is not something to give up everything you have accomplished to this point. Pick yourself up and keep moving forward, as pain is temporary, but quitting lasts forever.

3. Celebrate every milestone and accomplishment:

Celebrate your success and recognize your achievements. You are on an amazing journey; You should recognize every accomplishment you make and continue to make.

4. Do not allow your recognition of relapse warning signs to fall short:

After three to six months of sobriety, it can be easy to make the routine redundant and ignore warning signs. A relapse could occur emotionally, mentally, and physically long before you find your drug of choice. Do not ignore the warning signs and seek help if it becomes too much to manage. Recognize how far you have come and take preventative steps.

5. Focus on your finances and begin to build financial stability:

During your recovery journey, you are likely getting back into a work routine and placing some attention to your finances. If you are struggling with financial stability, consider contacting a vocational rehabilitation counselor or career coach. Financial stability is an integral part of recovery and is a significant milestone to celebrate.

6. Now is the time to deal with past mistakes:

Feeling ashamed or guilty because of past behavior is not healthy for recovery. If these emotions become too excessive, it can lead to a relapse. Resolving past mistakes, making amends, and moving forward for good is vital. Doing this later in your recovery ensures you have the strength and resolve to see it through.

7. Focus on balance in your life:

As you become more confident and find balance in life, it is vital to continue to focus on this. Continue to realize you have choices and that you can maintain control and take responsibility for every aspect of your life. The secret to healthy balance is knowing you decide which direction you go and how you want your life to proceed.

8. Do not let tension and stress get the best of you:

Much of recovery is routine. However, stress and anxiety can still occur well into recovery, which means staying on top of it. Little things can build up if you forget to recognize your triggers and healthily manage your stress.

9. Volunteer to help others:

Volunteer work is an excellent way to build confidence and self-esteem. During your recovery (after three to four months) is the best time to begin. It could be any volunteer work, and it can lead to meeting other like-minded individuals. Volunteering is an excellent way to stay connected to the community and give back.

10. Continue to be grateful:

Whether writing in your gratitude journal or recognizing the things you are thankful for, it is crucial never to let this go and continue to be grateful for everything you have accomplished.

Achieving Lifelong Sobriety

It is not uncommon for recovery monitoring to last one to five years. Either way, you are well on the road to lifelong sobriety and moving past your addiction for good. Everyone’s recovery journey takes a different length of time and is unique to that individual. However, it is vital to continue to work on yourself and use the accomplishment of your short-term goals to achieve your long-term goals. Here are ten tips for the journey of lifelong sobriety.

1. Focus on long-term goals:

If your recovery has been going well and you have been accomplishing your short-term goals, now is the time to focus on and work towards long-term goals. You may have built a sober network of friends to help achieve this. Overall, these should be things that benefit you in every aspect of life, individually and professionally.

2. Focus on your professional life:

You may work full-time or part-time, depending on your professional situation. Ideally, it should be full-time employment at this point in recovery. Now is the time to work side hustles or begin planning for the future with the profession you have always wanted to pursue.

3. Focus on your social life:

By this time, you have likely developed bonds with sober individuals, work acquaintances, and new friends or other people who support your recovery journey. In addition, some people have probably stuck with you every step of the way. Now is the time to focus on creating the relationships you want in life and setting a precedent or standard for yourself. It is essential to know precisely the type of people you want in your life and those you need to keep in your inner circle. 

4. Do not lose sight of your physical and mental well-being:

It is normal to put aside your well-being when other things in life start going well. However, now is not the time to disregard your physical and mental well-being. Do not deviate from the proper diet, exercise, and sleep routine. It takes discipline but is critical for life-long sobriety.

5. Focus on family:

Depending on your current family dynamic, you may have spent some repairing broken relationships. Now is an excellent time to focus on spending more time with family, rekindling old family relationships, or making the family dynamic stronger than ever before.

6. Focus on spirituality:

Everyone is different. Some individuals have a strong spiritual awareness, and others do not, which is fine. If you are someone who once made spirituality part of your life, now is the time to focus on making it a part of your life every day. A complete spiritual awareness brings a fullness to life and creates purpose.

7. Continue to give back to the community:

If you are in a close-knit community, do not stop giving back. Strong community bonds are vital to sobriety, as community members come together to help one another.

8. Never stop learning new life skills:

Learning new things will always bring joy, and this is something that should never stop. Learning new life skills increases your confidence, abilities, and awareness. Moreover, it can also help you better understand yourself and the world around you.

9. Always maintain your integrity:

It is important to conduct yourself in a professional and caring manner, but never compromise your own integrity. This extends into every aspect of your life as your personal integrity has helped you through recovery and into a sober life.

10. Drop the “in recovery” label…. If you want:

Not everyone will agree with this statement, but you do not have to be in recovery for the rest of your life. You do not have to identify as an addict until the day you die, and you no longer have to wear that label. That being said, it comes down to how you feel and how comfortable you are with what you have achieved on your journey.

For some, identifying as “in recovery” is a constant reminder of the hard work they have put in and motivates them to continue working on themselves. For others, moving past recovery is important because it begins the next chapter of their life. In the end, how you choose to identify yourself should be up to you and should be something that continues to motivate you.




More Information

Marcel Gemme has been helping people struggling with addiction for over 19 years. He first started as an intake counselor for a drug rehabilitation center in 2000. During his 5 years as an intake counselor, he helped many addicts get the treatment they needed. He also dealt with the families and friends of those people; he saw first-hand how much strain addiction puts on a family and how it can tear relationships apart. With drug and alcohol problems constantly on the rise in the United States and Canada, he decided to use the Internet as a way to educate and help many more people in both those countries. This was 15 years ago. Since then, Marcel has built two of the largest websites in the U.S. and Canada which reach and help millions of people each year. He is an author and a leader in the field of drug and alcohol addiction. His main focus is threefold: education, prevention and rehabilitation. To this day, he still strives to be at the forefront of technology in order to help more and more people. He is a Licensed Drug and Alcohol Treatment Specialist graduate with Honours of Stratford Career Institute. Marcel has also received a certificate from Harvard for completing a course entitled The Opioid Crisis in America and a certificate from The University of Adelaide for completing a course entitled AddictionX: Managing Addiction: A Framework for Succesful Treatment.