Recovery for addicts is an ongoing process. As I sat down to watch an episode of Entourage the other night, there was one particular scene that reminded me so much of my first few weeks of recovery.
The very last episode of last season, Vince was arrested for possession of cocaine. This season opens with Vince having completed 90 days of rehab for drug addicts, and it cuts to his friends trying to clean up the house and make sure there is nothing around that would lead Vince to a relapse. His brother yells at his friends for not finding and taking away the Advil from his house, and there is so much tension surrounding Vince’s return home from treatment for drug addiction.
I remember first getting sober and beginning alcohol addiction recovery. A lot of the people around me didn’t know exactly how to react. They didn’t know what was okay to talk to me about or what was okay to do with me or in front of me. Could my family have a drink around me? Was it okay for them to give me an Advil? If we had an argument, did that mean that I was going to run off and relapse?
I understand their concerns and their preoccupation with looking for signs of drug addiction recurring, but this behavior ended up making me more stressed out and anxious than anything else. I certainly understand that it was meant to be helpful and we were all in a very new situation, but I felt like people were walking on egg shells around me and it was driving me crazy.
For awhile in the beginning of my addiction recovery and alcoholism recovery, I definitely didn’t want to be around people drinking, even if it was just a glass of wine at dinner. I did think about using or drinking a little bit in the beginning, but as I got more clean time and continued to work the 12 step program, most of these thoughts went away almost completely.
I think when families and friends react in this way, it is meant to be helping drug addicts, but it can be counterproductive. I know that all I wanted when I got out was to get back to my life and to have people welcome me home and treat me like they had always treated me. Being coddled and having people react this way made me feel smothered and like I wasn’t capable of doing anything on my own.
Of course, I understand where they are coming from. The people who love me want to make sure I am safe, healthy and happy. They want to make sure I don’t go back to the life I once lived of using drugs and drinking. I think a better approach would have been to have some kind of conversation about how they could support me and what could be useful. Eventually we got to that point where I was able to tell the people around me what was helpful and what wasn’t, but it took time. We all had to adjust to the changes in our lives. Help for drug addicts in recovery involves communication above all else.
I am coming up on a year clean and sober, and even still, my family and friends worry that any kind of bump in my life could potentially lead me to a relapse. If I am tired or upset or have a headache, to them this could be a potential sign that I may have relapsed or may be heading in that direction. However, everything gets easier and better with time, and everyone in my life has started to trust me more. I know my family still worries, but I also know that if I say I have a headache, usually they believe me that it’s just a headache and not a relapse. Help for drug addicts in recovery includes learning to trust them again.
Recovery for addicts can have its tough times. As long as I am open with my family and friends about what’s going on in my life and how I’m feeling, there isn’t much to worry about. When I do struggle with cravings or with everyday life, I talk to people about it or go to a meeting. The past year certainly hasn’t been easy and it hasn’t been perfect, but it has been pretty amazing. I have been able to accomplish a lot this past year, and one of the things I am happiest to have accomplished is gaining back a lot of the trust of my friends and my family that I had lost.