For those who’ve recently completed alcohol or drug addiction treatment, it’s easy to lose your way in long term, back in life outside the clinic.

Use the six guiding principles, to turn short term sobriety, into long term recovery.

1) Recovery Won't Do The Work For You

When addicts and alcoholics initially enter treatment, there is much talk of "recovery" and what that means. There are whispers about those who've been in recovery longest. Some hold it as a badge of honour.

It can begin to be seen as though recovery is an outcome to be reached, a thing to be obtained, and thereafter, it will forever take care of you.

The reality is somewhat different.

Being active in recovery means exactly that - and it's you doing the actions.

This means keeping on top of addiction in all areas of your life, warding off relapses, identifying trigger situations in advance, and putting support mechanisms in place to offset them.

While the rewards are huge, there's no escaping that being in addiction recovery And the responsibility is yours.

Nevertheless, it's entirely possible to stay in recovery long term, if we:

- have realistic expectations
- expect to backslide from time to time
- find alternative ways to cope, especially with mental health issues that fall out of trigger situations

2) Make Sobriety & Abstinence A Payoff

My friend attended treatment at private alcohol/drug clinic Abbeycare, and they passed on this valuable insight re self-reward in recovery.

Remember how you *unconsciously* developed associations and triggers around using alcohol or drugs? You thought, at the time, that alcohol made you feel better (and learned later it made you feel much worse).

Well, what if we applied that same process, except deliberately, and consciously, and this time, to sobriety, instead of alcohol/drugs?

You can begin to develop positive associations and rewards, with staying sober and clean.

You can reward yourself for maintaining abstinence through difficult periods, or through situations which previously would have been active triggers for your addiction.

Of course, we have to do this carefully, especially if we've been running co-addiction, or co-dependence issues in the past, as we don't want to set up a new addiction with a reward we've been giving ourselves!

But if done carefully, you can treat yourself to a meal at your favourite restaurant, an extra 30 mins in the tub, or buy yourself a small treat, when you reach recovery goals that mean something to you.

3) The Door To Sobriety Is Always Open

Even if you do slip up in recovery, there is no judgement.

This is one of the most damaging and destructive elements, that kept us in addiction for so long - the assumption that addiction is somehow shameful, or something to be embarrassed about.

When we realise that the behaviour of addiction is manifested simply from an underlying pain, and not an outwards determination for self-destruction - as outsiders can sometimes see it - then the guilt can be set free.

No matter the perception of others in your life, no matter their pre-existing beliefs or judgements about your behaviour, or your past, sobriety itself doesn't mind, and always leaves the door open for you.

Sobriety is always a possibility, no matter how many times you messed up, how many failures you've had, or how many times you've relapsed.

4) Addiction Itself Has No Meaning

What we mean here is - the behaviour of addiction is not *inherently* bad.

This can be a difficult one to accept - especially when loved ones witness our lives spiralling out of control and the sometimes disastrous consequences addiction can have.

The real message here is - there are no negative intentions behind addictive behaviour - no matter how destructive they seem.

There can be any one of hundreds of explanations for the real reasons behind an addict or alcoholic's terrible behaviour, and none of them mean they intended to do damage, wreck that relationship, or ruin a family event, for no reason.

When dealing with those in addiction, try to look beyond the surface veneer that the substance creates. Look deeper to see - what is the fear/sadness/anger that this person is attempting to deal with, or run from? How might alcohol or drugs be helping them avoid it, or suppress it?

When we look for the real reasons underneath, the addiction becomes explainable, understandable, and to some extent, forgivable.

5) Abstinence Does Not Equal Recovery

It's possible to go into treatment, graduate with flying colours, and stay clean and sober, by focussing purely on the act of not drinking or not using.

Typically, folks in this category will do little follow up work, no therapy work on themselves, won't seek additional help, and rarely work with a sponsor.

Is it possible to stay sober this way?

It's possible, yes, but it's not the most productive way to go.

Anyone entering treatment already has *some* awareness of the underlying emotional pain they're running from.

We admit it to ourselves, to differing extents, in the silence of sobriety.

If we're truly honest, we know the depth of underlying trauma, grief, resentment, PTSD, and negative episodes in our lives that should be healed, to allow us to move forward productively.

But it's a lot of work....and some simply won't be willing to do it.

A happy balance must be found, between not overwhelming ourselves with too much intense, self-focussed work, and yet doing enough self-work that we're free enough in recovery without being encumbered by excessive trauma or anxiety, in day-to-day life.

An up-front acceptance, that life in addiction recovery will be work, means it's less of a surprise when small triggers arise in abstinence, and you realise they need to be overcome, to generate long term recovery.

6) Lose The Victim Mentality

Addicts and alcoholics have mastered the art of one mental mindset - being the victim.

In addiction, we became so good at turning even the most benevolent of events into a personal disaster aimed directly at us, because, in some way, we were able to use this victim-hood as an excuse to drink or use.

Thus, the roots of this pattern of thinking, remain present into our recovery, unless we consciously recognise them and seek to pull them out.

Recognise that this was a style of thinking that served your purpose at that time, which was to drink or use, and thus avoid pain.

But that this style no longer serves you, you now have other ways to cope, and therefore, this mental approach has no place in your life.

Whether you realise it or not, others are aware of your constantly playing the victim, throwing your hands in the air and wailing "it's not *my* fault!" and denying all responsibility.

When you move beyond this fallback position, this way of being, into a more mature emotional mindset, you allow yourself to take a health amount of responsibility, in everyday life, and accept that there are no negative consequences or penalties, if you don't do things perfectly.

Author's Bio: 

Md Rasel is a professional blogger.