5 Signs You Have Left Addiction Behind
For most people, recovering from addiction is a gradual process. It's not like they walk into a drug rehab and all thoughts of using drugs vanish instantly—which would be awesome but not realistic. It takes time for the body to recover from the presence of the toxic drugs or alcohol. It takes more time to develop the life skills that stabilize one’s ability to make the right choices. And it definitely takes some time to work out new patterns of living, working and relaxing that don’t involve substances. It takes a period of time, focus, intention, study and work.
But of course, the payoffs are fabulous. The reward for building that new, sober life range from saving tons of money and having nothing to hide from family and friends all the way up to simply being alive. Many people got sober because they realized that death was right around the corner if they didn’t.
So when you cross that threshold into stable sobriety, what are the signs? How do you know that you’ve left that ugly chapter of your life behind?
1. You no longer orient your life around using drugs or drinking.
Drug and alcohol use are no longer part of your thoughts when making plans for the future. Where you used to plan events, trips, family visits with consideration for where you would obtain drugs or alcohol or use them, you now freely plan your life without those thoughts.
2. Seeing someone drink or use drugs in person or in a movie or on television doesn't trigger a desire to use.
When your present life has your attention strongly enough that seeing someone drink or use drugs doesn’t throw you back into your addicted past, that’s a huge step forward. It means you have definitely swung the scale so that your current life is more compelling than your past.
3. You don’t dream about or dwell on times when you used drugs.
Those vivid dreams of using drugs don’t wake you up and it’s not the first thing you think of in the morning—either wanting to use or thinking about how you used to get a fix first thing. You think about your day—your life—just like anyone else.
4. You no longer identify yourself as a former addict or recovering addict.
Some people are taught that identifying themselves as an addict is a vital part of their protocol for recovery. But others want to look forward, not back, and prefer to shed that identity in favor of thinking of themselves simply as themselves. It could be mother, sister, daughter, wife, doctor, hairdresser, dog walker or whatever other identity they have chosen.
5. You have discovered that you create your own happiness and that life is better sober than it was on drugs or alcohol.
This is a key lesson. When you truly see that life is so much more joyous sober than it ever was drugged or drunk, that’s a milestone. When you were using, it didn’t look that way. When you thought about getting sober, you might have been worried that life would never have any pleasure for you once you were sober. But healing happens.
While you are building that new sober life, don’t forget to recognize these milestones of improvement as they occur. You should congratulate yourself on your accomplishment. Or, if you have a loved one who is recovering and you notice one of these signs, acknowledge them for their hard work. Each step forward into that new life is a step toward health, long life and contribution to family and community and that is worthy or recognition.