I was on the radio today in Kansas City on KCUR 89.3FM’s Central Standard program. One of the callers asked about his ongoing recovery and the struggles he has in his relationship with his wife. Here are a few tips on staying in recovery:
1) Individual Therapy – Some people will want to continue individual therapy 2, 3, 5 or more years into their recovery. It won’t be every week and it probably won’t be as intense as it first was. But the value of having someone who knows your story, your triggers, your patterns, etc. is vital in “check ups” and avoiding relapse.
2) Group Therapy – This is about building a trusted support group where you can share your successes and temptations without being judged or criticized. This is your group – where you can give back and pass on the lessons of sobriety. It’s powerful for you and it’s powerful for those you’ll impact.
3) 12-Step work – The 12-step S-fellowships (SA, SAA, SLA, etc.) are a fantastic tool in your recovery and provide a great place for accountability, community and support. Use this tool in your early recovery and stay with it.
4) Sponsor – Have someone in your life, besides your spouse, who understands your addiction and can help you through the tough times. (To find a sponsor, see #3 and #2 above.) Have regular meetings with your sponsor – “business” meetings to talk about your addiction and social meetings to bond with him/her. It is critical to have someone you trust on the inside who is NOT yoru spouse or partner.
5) Couples Therapy – If you’re in a relationship and your partner wants to make it work, couples’ therapy is a crucial component. This, again, is a great tool for early in your relationship as you’re rebuilding trust and intimacy, and also a great tool to keep in your life once a month as a “relationship health check” with a couples’ therapist who knows you, your spouse and the issues you’ve both worked through.
6) Self-Care – Taking care of your mental, emotional and physical health is critical for avoiding relapse. Working out, eating right, talking with your partner, socializing with healthy people, reconnecting to your spirituality are all great ways to fill your life with powerful, positive things instead of your addiction.
It all comes down to this: Addiction was a way of life. Recovery must also be a way of life.