Addiction recovery is no early-morning 5k with a visible and definitive finish line. Instead, it is a marathon run on a long and winding road.
One with markers along the path saying, “Yes! You’re going the right way,” and “Whoops, wrong turn,” and “Stop here for a quick rest,” and “Back on the path you go.”
And yes, one day you may find yourself ready to run through that end-of-the-recovery-race tape, cheered on by family, friends and strangers alike.
Until then, take hold of what we’re calling the “Three P’s of Change.”Preparation, Persistence and Patience. You got this.
Addiction Recovery Requires Preparation
Most folks don’t run a marathon without extensive training for months leading up to a race. Can you imagine hopping off the couch, tossing your Cheetos and hitting the pavement in your Vans for a quick 26 miles? Me neither.
In the same way, you can’t expect to face the real world post-detox—where opportunities to indulge lurk around every corner—without a whole lot of preparation beforehand.
This part is where treatment comes in. Yes, addiction treatment serves to help you detox from drugs or alcohol in a safe environment and address the very real issues that make substance misuse appealing and difficult to shake.
But treatment also prepares you for what’s to come by helping you make a plan for dealing with triggers, choosing healthy ways to manage your emotions and learning to replace bad habits with better ones.
Many people choose to engage in continued-care programs at the conclusion of residential treatment. A program like this might look like a partial-hospitalization program or attending an intensive outpatient program that offers the opportunity to meet with your counselors a few times a week as you begin to immerse yourself back into your regular routine.
Addiction Recovery Requires Persistence
Let me tell you what I would do if I were to run a marathon today. I’d make it to about mile six (Is this a generous assumption on my part? Maybe). Then I’d take myself a little break and probably decide that six miles are good enough for now.
This thought might just be what sets weekend marathoners apart from weekday joggers. After all, I can run a few miles four days each week and still never finish a marathon in my life.
We often hear the phrase, “Consistency is key!” But when it comes to long and hard-won races—like the one you’re running on the road to recovery—it might be more true to say, “Consistency paired with persistence is key!”
After all, it won’t be a daily checkmark of perfection that proves you’re in recovery. It will be you choosing to keep going even when you’ve messed up, even when it feels impossible to do so, even when the end feels so far away.
Persistence—taking one more step and one more step—will get you there.
Addiction Recovery Requires Patience
I won’t be running any real marathons any time soon, but I would like to find myself in a healthier place in the coming months and years. Wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t we all?
To make it happen, we must recognize that the finish lines of our goals rarely come quickly. We’ll do ourselves a favor to take the marathon approach, to breathe deeply whenever we’re feeling rushed, and to give ourselves a whole lot of grace along the way.
Are you running what feels like a marathon race toward addiction recovery? The Right Step Dallas-Fort Worth can help! Give us a call at 844.675.1557.
By Stephanie Thomas
Contributing Writer with Promises Behavioral Health