7 Myths About Recovery That Are Probably Making You Feel Like You’re Doing it Wrong
You’re clean. You’re sober. Life is grand. And then, life shows up on life’s terms. It’s important to remember that you are more than just an addict in recovery. You’re also a human being. The human experience is multi-dimensional: we have thoughts, feelings, dreams (as in nighttime), goals, beliefs, experiences…language is too limiting to even describe what it means to be human. That said, you could be working a really tight program and yet life still shows up and you’re left thinking, “What am I doing wrong?”
Here are 7 myths about recovery that are probably making you feel like you’re doing it wrong.
1: You’ll never think about drugs once you get clean
People in recovery – whether it’s early on or they have years of sobriety – will think about drugs and alcohol, from time to time, that is. Just because you have thoughts about drugs it doesn’t mean you’re doing recovery wrong. It’s completely normal. Think about it like this: drugs are powerful chemicals that leave their imprint on your brain. It’ll take a while to heal from that. So just be patient and be gentle with yourself. As far as when you have long-term sobriety, you’ll still think about drugs. You just won’t have that obsession that you used to have.
2: You’ll instantly be good at everything
“I can’t. because drugs.”
This will probably be your motto in early sobriety. Just like above, it’s important to know that drugs have a profound effect on us and it’s equally important (and comforting) to know that it’s a myth that drugs ruin you. Remind yourself of how much you have accomplished and show yourself patience and compassion when it comes to being who and what you want to be in sobriety. It takes time, effort, and action.
3: You’ll never feel depressed
The first bout of depression I experienced in sobriety was certainly a challenge. I had been feeling so good. I confided in my mom that I was feeling depressed to which she replied, “I thought that would stop when you got clean.” As hurtful as it was to hear that, I realized that she just doesn’t understand it.
I was diagnosed with dysthymia, also known as chronic depression, which is long term and is caused by a chemical imbalance. It’s different from situational depression, which everyone will experience in their lifetime and probably more than once. Depression is just part of the human experience.
4: You’ll never need any other kind of support besides the program
The truth is, many people in recovery – myself included – also see a therapist and even a psychiatrist, because they need the support of certain medications, like antidepressants in their recovery. As I mentioned above, I have chronic depression. It supports me in my recovery by taking an antidepressant and by going to a therapist. I talk to my sponsor on the regular but I also benefit from talking to a professionally trained counselor, who happens to specialize in addiction recovery.
5: You won’t have using dreams anymore (and if you do, it’s a bad sign)
Drug dreams are not a bad omen; they don’t mean that you’re going to relapse. In fact, having using dreams can actually be a sign that you’re doing well or at least point out the growth you’ve had. I feel like a broken record when I say that drugs have a powerful effect on our brain chemistry. As a result, we will think about alcohol and other drugs, even in our sleep. Drug dreams are completely normal so don’t fret. Read more about using dreams here.
6: You have thousands of sponsees who never relapse
Many of us recovering alcoholics and addicts have difficulty with managing our expectations, especially when it comes to our expectations about ourselves. If you don’t have sponsees yet or, your sponsee or sponsees go back out, you want to make it all about you. And it’s not. So, get over yourself.
7: Your relationships are perfect
You may have already completed your steps, which means that you made amends to those you have wronged while in active addiction. But, you’re finding that things aren’t rainbows and unicorns when it comes to your relationships with your loved ones. Relax. These things take time. People are not machines. They don’t go to the shop and get ‘fixed’ overnight. Relationships, in general, require effort and work – even the best of them.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588.