A Drug by any Name

It doesn't matter whether your drug of choice has been alcohol, cocaine, speed, Valium, gambling, sex, food, or another mood-altering substance or activity. The problems you face in recovery will, for the most part, be the same. To bring this fact home, we refer throughout our program to the disease of: "addiction" and to anyone afflicted with it as an "addict". We occasionally use "mood-altering chemical", "chemical substance", or just plain "drugs' to mean all drugs, including alcohol.

Keep in mind that if you have had a problem with one or more of these substances, switching to another in recovery - from alcohol to pot, for example, or from pills to booze - will intensify, not cure, your problem. If you have trouble with one mind-altering substance, you will have trouble with all of them.

Phase One: Saving Your Life

In this stage, which starts with a rude awakening more often than a spiritual one, your chief concern is survival. You may seem self-centered to family and friends, focusing all your energies on yourself and your recovery (just as you focused them on your drug or alcohol addiction). But that's the way early recovery is. A mutual support group like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) can help you move into sobriety successfully, You can learn to get the most out of such a group, and how to deal with your family and friends, and job during this time. Your body will probably complain bitterly, with new symptoms related to recovery and old ones you never noticed when your brain was anesthetized. Your head will probably be shrouded in fog, and your emotions will flip-flop frequently. You'll need to learn how to cope with body, mind, and moods without chemical support. We will help get you through this often difficult, sometimes painful, but ultimately rewarding adjustment period.

Phase Two: Enjoying Your Life

With the craving for alcohol or drugs diminishing and your recovery on track, you can switch gears from saving your life to making it more fulfilling. Work at rebuilding old relationships and beginning new ones; look for new educational opportunities and job challenges; and explore hobbies and leisure activities. With a smog-free head, more stable emotions, you can begin to have fun.

Phase Three: Extending Your Life

Somewhere in the third or fourth year of sobriety (a little earlier for some, a little later for others), the focus switches again. Once you've saved your life and learned to enjoy it, it's time to consider how you can best extend it. We'll explain how to do this with the help of a sensible diet, a realistic exercise program, and other preventive health measures. This phase is also the time to continue to reach out to help others.

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