There is one common denominator across the spectrums of addiction. No matter if you are addicted to coke, meth, alcohol or whatever substance gets you through or over what you normally feel, in sobriety your life will change. Forever. Things that were once important to you will be so no longer. People that you have known for years will vanish. Particularly if your drug of choice is alcohol. No awards are given for recovery from the oldest human addiction. You will find that your family no longer trusts you as they may have a few short months prior. Alcohol is such a common substance in our society that nobody, from our government to our churches, truly embrace a person in recovery from alcohol abuse as anything but an alcoholic.
You will become, “That person who used to drink.” People will modify their behaviors in front of you despite your best efforts to let them know that you are no longer concerned with the temptation from alcohol. I think that is perhaps one of the biggest reasons for sudden relapse after treatment for the first year: You end up doing what is expected of you. Everyone watches with bated breath to see if you will drink again. Comments such as: “I never thought you’d quit” and “Sorry about my beer” will become a part of your life. As if you would be suddenly struck with the notion to murder the person holding the beer out of sheer desperation for their drink.
Your relationships with people will change. Not always for the better. For the better, remember you have changed. People do not like change. You are no longer in the box neatly labeled as “The Addict.” If you, like me, have sickness linked to your years in addiction, then you will be likely be blamed for the very illness from which you suffer. “You did this to yourself.” That was the hardest, most true statement I’ve ever heard. No sympathy. You no longer fit in your box.
The most devastating can often be with your significant other. People in recovery will find that they have lost most, if not all dignity in the eyes of the person they love the most. Often the very person whose face would become a beacon of hope during the throes of the most terrible pain that the first few weeks of total sobriety bring with it. You will become a different person to your loved one during the recovery process. You will often find that your role in a relationship may no longer be the same. If you were once the sole provider, then you will enter sobriety to learn that you are not.
Throughout this initial discover phase and self-doubt, you may experience feelings of hopelessness, abandonment and despair. Despite what you may believe, or think that you believe, your family and the ones who truly love you will rally around you in support and embrace the new person that you are trying to become. These feelings will be temporary and will lose their hold on your conscience as you attempt to sort out the mess that has become your life.
If your family does not support your decision to become and stay sober, then you must move on. Your very life depends on it. This was not so in my situation, but I have witnessed, with great astonishment, when addicts are directed by their loved ones back to the substance or situation that created the addiction in the first place.
This is a horrible blow to be dealt when you have the least amount of confidence, self-reliance and independence than you have experienced in your life. But you must not, cannot despair. You must pull through these days with all you can and remember that, while you may physically be alone, you don’t have to be. There are programs, people who will accept you and support you, provide transportation and if needs be, constant companionship. Find it. Accept it. Embrace not only who you are, but for who you ARE about to be.