One thing which we do not tend to learn, while in addiction, is how to give ourselves credit. The road of recovery has been marked with goalposts – or milestones – to ensure that we take the time to acknowledge that we have, indeed, committed to the journey of life which so many before us have bravely embarked upon. When you arrive upon these markers, you gain reassurance that you are on the right path toward finding your best self.
These milestones are typically divided into periods of time, though you may find that you proceed more quickly – or more slowly – down your life path than do others. There are many ways to conceptualize the process of self-development during these time periods. The following description describes the process of recovery as the journey of becoming your own, sustainable, source of mental, emotional, and spiritual fulfillment.
Milestone: 30 Days – Tilling the Ground
By this time, the chemical effects of the invading substance will have been removed from your body. This is the time where you are beginning to get to know the real you, apart from being controlled by the drugs or alcohol. Getting to know yourself, sober, can be both an exciting – and a trying – time. You may be finding that there are parts of yourself which have not ever been properly dealt with, and those parts may begin to find the confidence to safely emerge.
The longer that the addictive substance played a part in your life, the longer it may take to stabilize yourself and to find your center. Emotions which were previously altered, ignored, and suppressed will need to find a new – and better – way of expressing themselves. Thoughts which were previously centered on how to score that next high will need to be retrained toward thoughts of how to find peace, and of how to plan for a successful future. Many will begin to realize that the addiction took up a large part of each day, and living without it leaves a large gap of time which will need to be filled. The task, here, will be to discover new, meaningful, activities to pursue during your waking hours.
Milestone: 90 Days – Planting the Seeds
By the time you have reached your 90-days of sobriety, the new thoughts and behaviors which you developed within your initial recovery plan will have become old-hat. While the first thirty days can be experienced as a drastic, and rapidly changing, period, this second milestone marks your stability. You are likely to notice that the temptations to resort to using substances occur less frequently, and with less intensity. You have developed a new, hopeful, routine.
While your confidence level in your abilities to survive and thrive without substances is increasing, your past is still close enough behind you to warrant receiving continued support toward your resolve to stay on track. Research has indicated that it can take up to eight months before new habits are fully established, so don’t expect too much of yourself by this stage. Many will find that the attending of support groups and use of coping mechanisms are still providing reassurance during times of self-doubt. These supports are likely to be integrated into a daily life which also includes purpose and productivity.
Milestone: Year 1 – Reaping A Harvest
With all of the hard self-work that has been done over the past year, this milestone is one during which the effort begins to pay really pay off. Loved ones are likely to have come around to trusting, and believing in, this new life of yours. Burned bridges have been restored, or you have made peace with the restoration projects which will take a longer period of time to heal. You are able to look at yourself as someone of worth and accomplishment, and take pride in the choices that you have made over these many months.
A year of sobriety brings with it the confidence that you have what it takes to succeed. While the support team which has assisted you along the way is likely to still be important, you are likely to find that you have developed the ability to nurture yourself during times of stress. New mindsets, combined with hopeful visions of the future, work to spur you onward.
Milestone: Year 5 – Sharing With Others
At this point, you have well established your new routines; relationships; and life ventures. The old you, of addiction, is likely to feel like an entirely different life from the one which you have now. Your self-care practices have served you well, and your feet are likely planted firmly in a direction of prosperity.
By this milestone, many will feel as though their own supply of joy and peace is abundant enough to share it with others. Far from carrying the old reputation of being an addict – unreliable and untrustworthy – a person with five years of sobriety may begin to be looked at as a sage. Those who are in their own, various, stages of change in regard to addiction and life struggles are likely to look to you as a guide for their own success. The challenges and triumphs of your own journey with addiction work as a beacon of hope for those who doubt their own abilities to overcome.
Milestone: Year 10 – Surveying Your Accomplishments
Reaching a decade of sobriety is cause for celebration. Your practices of self-care and community involvement are producing reliable results, and your reputation as a solid, insightful, individual is secure. You are free to experience the mundane – but lasting – joys which come from everyday activities, such as through interactions with loved ones and through taking pride in small achievements. You are likely to be able to experience the depths of humility and gratitude which can only be learned by going through the fires of life, and coming out – intact – on the other side. Your life has become a well-tended field, producing a reliable crop of peace, wisdom, and personal success.