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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Maintaining a Balanced Life During Early Recovery

Early recovery can be challenging.  It's not unusual for people in early recovery from alcohol or drugs (or other addictive behaviors) to struggle with how to maintain a balance between their recovery activities and life in general.

Maintaining a Balanced Life During Early Recovery

This assumes that individuals are ready to attend 12 Step meetings.  For many people, who have been traumatized emotionally, hearing some of the stories of other people's loss and trauma, can be retraumatizing of them.   For those people, attending therapy with a licensed mental health professional who has expertise with substance abuse and trauma is preferable.

Other people, who are in early recovery and who aren't triggered by going to meetings, are relieved to have a place in 12 Step meetings where they feel understood and they gain a new sense of hope and renewal.

Maintaining a Balanced Life During Early Recovery

But sometimes, by focusing only on 12 Step meetings, they neglect their primary relationships and responsibilities. The result is that their lives become unbalanced and this often causes conflicts with their families.

Early Recovery Requires Commitment
It's easy to see how things can become so unbalanced.

Early recovery involves a big commitment of time and energy. For many people in early recovery going to 12 Step meetings on a daily basis is the only thing standing in their way to keep them from acting on their cravings for alcohol and/or drugs.

 For them, the 12 Step slogan of "One Day at a Time" might be more like "One Minute at a Time" or "One Second at a Time" as they struggle not to give in to those cravings.

The 12 Step meetings, the fellowship in the meetings, and their sponsors are like life lines. If they're already suffering from substance abuse-related health problems, early recovery activities could be all that's keeping them from death's door.

But the toll this can take on family and close relationships can be huge.

Initially, spouses or partners of people in early recovery are usually so glad that their loved one stopped abusing substances and gotten help. These family members might have been asking and pleading with their loved one to get help for years. But when they see that early recovery activities seem to have taken over their loved one's life, they often feel disappointed and alienated from their loved one.

Whereas before their loved one wasn't available to them because of the substance abuse, now they feel he or she isn't around because of early recovery activities. This can be very disappointing and frustrating. It can lead to arguments as family members ask for more time and attention.

 People in early recovery, in turn, often feel that spouses and family members don't understand. They might begin to shut down emotionally even when they are around their spouses and families. All of this can lead to further alienation and a sense of hopelessness for everyone involved.

Repairing Relationships During Early Recovery
What can be done to repair these relationships and to achieve balance?

Well, to start, the person in early recovery can benefit from talking to people in the 12 Step rooms who have a lot more experience and success in recovery and who have learned to achieve balance in their lives.

Learning to achieve this balance can be a challenge, especially if the person new to recovery might never have led a balanced life before.

A seasoned sponsor can help someone in early recovery to navigate through this challenge to help achieve this balance.

With more experience in recovery, this often happens more easily, as compared to the early stages of recovery.

Spouses and loved ones of people in early recovery can benefit from attending Al-Anon to get support and a sense of hope. Sponsorship is also available to them in Al-Anon.

Getting Help in Therapy
A licensed therapist with expertise in substance abuse and trauma can help clients in recovery to develop the necessary coping skills to maintain a balanced life.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist who provides psychotherapy services to individuals and couples, including contemporary dynamic talk therapy, EMDR, clinical hypnosis, and Somatic Experiencing.

Helping clients with substance abuse and emotional trauma are among my specialities.

To find out more a out me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006 or email me: josephineolivia@aol.com.




Resources:
Alcoholics Anonymous:  http://aa.org

Al-Anon Family Group:http://al-anon.alateen.org