The Learning Process of Addiction Recovery

A man sitting against a brick wall.

The Learning Process of Addiction Recovery

Life lessons are learned best through trial and error. Addiction recovery is a process, not an instant path to perfection. Each day offers a new beginning and a chance to build on what you learned the day before. While you may strive to prevent a relapse, it is not the end of your recovery. Rather, it’s a chance for you to ask yourself what you learned from the experience. Thereafter, renew your commitment to sobriety and recovery.

Recovery Is the Goal, Not Perfection

The first thing to understand about addiction recovery is that perfection is not the goal. If that were the case, no one would ever achieve it. Recovery is a process that involves trial and error. The end goal is to achieve lasting sobriety through recovery, which involves learning and recommitting yourself each day.

During your initial treatment process, including detox, you may find it more challenging to change your lifestyle. You’ll receive powerful cravings that come from the brain after substance abuse. Usually, this gets easier the further away you get from active addiction. 

However, there will still be difficult days and moments. You’ll go through times when cravings or triggers hit you unexpectedly, and your commitment to your recovery will be tested. Most important, you can prepare and learn from the difficult days to become more resilient each time.

Building on What You Have Learned the Day Before

Many people come out of treatment motivated to do everything right every day. Consequently, you might want to prevent every relapse. Your excitement will be challenged by the realities of facing the stressors of everyday life. Additionally, you must also learn to live in sobriety which can be harder than it seems on the surface. 

Rather than give up when you forget to exercise, miss a meeting, or simply have a difficult day, you can acknowledge your very real struggles. You can give yourself credit for making it through, no matter how rough it was or what mistakes you feel you made. If you’re reading this right now, you’ve survived 100% of your bad days. You can do it again.

Tomorrow is a new day—a new chance to recommit yourself to your recovery. You can take your experiences from the previous day and learn from them. Build upon your mistakes. You are wiser and can make a new decision today to live differently than you have before. Maybe you will make new mistakes, but you can keep learning and building upon them to help create a solid recovery.

Emotional, Mental, and Physical Relapse

During treatment, you should have developed a relapse prevention plan. Your plan helps you to prepare for the rough days—prepare for the challenges that lie ahead. The more you learn and prepare, the less likely you are to relapse.

Relapse does not usually just happen, there are warning signs. Firstly, you might emotionally relapse; you give into emotions and become angry, irritable, or restless. You may also isolate, stop your self-care, or miss meetings. Next, you could mentally relapse; you allow yourself to glamorize your past substance use. You might hang out with friends from your past, or fantasize about using substances again. When you have mentally relapsed, you are just a step away from a physical relapse unless you can ask for help. You need to make changes quickly.

What You Can Learn From Relapse

While relapse is not part of the goal, it is also not the end of your recovery. Relapse can be another learning experience for you. What can you learn from a relapse? Looking back, where did you diverge from your recovery path and the goals you set for yourself? What can you change now to prevent that from happening again? For many people, a relapse helps them to realize how valuable their recovery is. Afterward, they take the appropriate steps to maintain their recovery going forward.

Renewing Your Commitment to Sobriety Each Day

When you wake up each morning, you have the opportunity to start fresh. It doesn’t matter whether you had a great day the previous day and completed all of your daily routines to maintain your recovery, or you relapsed yesterday and had a really rough day. Today is brand new and full of new chances for you.

Renewing your commitment to your sobriety each day can be the first thing you do when you wake up. You can even set reminders on your phone to renew your commitment. No matter what choices you make, you can learn from your experiences and ultimately become stronger in your recovery every day.