28 Jun Being New in Recovery – The First 90 Days
The first 90 days of recovery are critical! Everyone’s journey into recovery is different. The recovery pace is set to the individual, and how they choose to work their program. Sometimes people smoked marijuana while others have cirrhosis of the liver from decades of long-term alcohol abuse. At times people may be dual-diagnosed and dealing with mental disorders on top of alcoholism or drug addiction. Each person’s recovery will still be unique to them. However, there are some common phases in the first 90 days that are essential to examine.
In early recovery, many newcomers suspect removing drugs and alcohol from the equation would solve the problem. One of the hardest truths is that drugs and alcohol are but a symptom. The problem perceived in the bottle or drug was found to be in the head, heart and spirit. Years are spent in false identity of ego or self-image. This drives the need for alcoholics / addicts to see the truth of who they are without the substance. Before having a solution, the recovery process can appear somewhat messy. The alcoholic is typically dominated by fear, delusional ideas, warped perception, old patterned thinking, shame, guilt, remorse and depression from years of suppressing emotions of a life driven by self and harm to others. They will discover a new conscience, and realize their moral compass was backwards while using.
In the first 30 days they can barely sleep. The pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization that came with drinking and using, play over and over in their heads. In early sober days they toss and turn each night fighting off cravings and restlessness. Upon receiving a full night’s sleep or a better day, they can become overly sure of themselves.
Many ups and downs occur in early recovery, one in particular is bouncing from over confidence to no confidence. Many of the ups and downs involve attaching a belief to a fear followed by listening and considering the lie to be true. After completing detox the newcomer feels empowered and often believes the lie that they are no longer an alcoholic or addict. They begin to be overconfident in themselves and jump back into insanity. Other times they have no confidence and suppose people are looking at or talking about them due to their shameful and self-centered nature.
Outstanding amounts of worry, fear, delusion and warped perception occur in the first ninety days of recovery. In this phase of development, the addict / alcoholic begins to address the pile of problems they had created while under the influence. Abstinence from drugs and alcohol without a solution may bring temporary relief, but it is similar to peeing in your pants on a cold day. It feels warm at the moment but you end up with cold, wet pants. Without a long-term solution, they become restless, irritable and discontent, living inside a pair of cold, wet pants unaware they are even wearing them. Somehow they must experience a sense of ease and comfort in a solution to drug and alcohol addiction.
Newcomers are quick to gravitate towards money, sex, food, gambling and other behaviors to get outside of themselves. At times there is a state of grief for they had to change the old life style along with people and places. They may experience depression, anxiety, poor concentration irritability or rage. The newcomer needs a new sense of community, and a host of friends who are following the design for living outlined in the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous. There is a small window of opportunity for the alcoholic / addict to be removed from drugs and alcohol, yet alone to absorb a solution. If the seed of hope is planted, it needs to be watered and nurtured daily.