What to Expect in the First Years of Alcohol Addiction Recovery

What to Expect in the First Years of Alcohol Addiction Recovery

Getting over your alcohol addiction can be a tough road ahead, but being prepared can help soothe the journey somewhat. Read more to learn what you can expect in the first years of alcohol addiction recovery and become informed today.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, it's estimated that there are over 15 million people over the age of 18 with alcohol use disorder.

That number is high, but you're no longer a statistic. You've realized that you have a problem with alcohol, and now you're doing what you can to get sober.

Some people have struggled with alcoholism for months. For others, it may be years or even decades. Sobriety can be intimidating, but when you know what to expect it can be less scary.

Do you want to know what to expect in the first years of your recovery? Read on to learn more.

What To Expect In The First Years Of Recovery: A Year One Timeline

There are different stages of recovery from alcohol addiction you're going to experience during your first year of sober living.

It's important to note that everyone is different. Depending on your life situation and the severity of your addiction, some of these emotions and problems can last for a while or may not affect you.

First Three Months

This stage is critical for proper recovery because you're actively working on developing healthy living habits and are attending support groups for the first time.

When you're in the first three months of recovery, you need to really focus on yourself. Think about ways to live the best and healthiest lifestyle you can.

You may be under the care of a doctor or could be attending AA, but you should look into group therapy or one-on-one sessions. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and mental help can make it easier to stay sober.

Take time to work on your body. Make an exercise plan, talk to a nutritionist, and be sure to be seen by doctors and specialists.

Months 3-6

This time period can be difficult for addicts because it's easy to convince yourself that you're fully recovered. This false sense of security could easily lead to a relapse.

You haven't been drinking, you've settled into a healthy routine, and may even be improving relationships that were damaged by your drinking.

It can be easy to convince yourself that you can handle " a little" alcohol, and even easier to sink back into addiction. When you're in this time period, it's important to stay strong above all else.

Months 6-12

Once you have six months of sobriety under your belt, you're firmly settled into your sober living routine. The temptation to drink may not be as great as it was before, but you may feel tempted to stop going to meetings or therapy.

AA and therapy got you to where you are today, and you need to continue them for at least a year. See the year through, then re-evaluate your needs once it's over.

Three Essential Living Tips For Sober Living

There's a lot to be concerned about during your first year of sobriety. Some may be more worried about physical symptoms like PAWS, but others are much more worried about how emotional and psychological changes.

There is no one right way to handle recovery that works for everyone. But there are some things you should keep in mind that can make the process easier.

Admit Your Weaknesses

When you're in the early stages of recovery, adjusting to your new normal can be tough. Some people may not want to admit that there are some things they can't do anymore.

You may think that you can go to happy hour with your coworkers and not drink. You aren't ready to admit that friends you normally see will want to drink when you go out, so you join them for a night on the town.

In order to successfully live a sober life, you need to be honest about your addiction and what triggers you.

In a few years, you may be able to be around friends that drink or go to social events with alcohol. But right now, being around alcohol may be too difficult for you.

Be honest about your relationship with alcohol and what you can realistically handle. Remember, recovery is a journey with no set destination or travel time.

Take things at your own pace, and don't be afraid to take yourself out of bad situations.

Stay Social

When you're in recovery, it's normal to not want to put yourself into situations where alcohol is present. This can be difficult for people because many social functions involve alcohol, so some choose to not go out with friends or loved ones.

You may think that you're doing yourself a favor by avoiding certain situations, but those pre-emptive moves could do more harm than good.

Right now you need to be around friends, family, and loved ones more than ever.

Quitting drinking is a major life change. You're going to need support, and not socializing can leave you isolated and depressed.

It's perfectly normal to not want to go out to bars or to cut out friends that enable your problem. You should make an effort to fill your life with new fun activities to keep you busy.

Don't Care About Judgement From Others

Ideally, everyone would be 100% supportive when a friend, loved one, or coworker decides to stop drinking. But unfortunately, there are going to be some people that feel the need to let their opinions be heard.

There will be the friends that think you're less fun now that you're sober. Some may accuse you of judging them for their drinking, others may complain about your new lifestyle to other people in your friend group.

You could encounter some people with very specific opinions on the right way to get sober. They may insist that you have to go through a certain program or have different rules about sobriety that don't align with yours.

The important thing to remember throughout all of this is that you're living your life the best way you see fit.

Your Turn

Now that we've given you a glimpse into what to expect in the first years of your recovery, you may be eager to learn about different ways to manage your recovery.

Everyone could use encouraging words during difficult days. If you need a bit of inspiration, check out some of our favorite quotes about sobriety and recovery.

If you're interested in a longer read, check out our page on AA books and literature.