I remember when I first got clean like it was yesterday. Looking back now, I recognize that it was truly the beginning of my life, and probably one of the best days of my life because it led me to where I’m at today. And I happen to be a girl who genuinely loves her life, but I had zero clue how to prioritize things when I first got clean. You know, so that I could get to a place where I loved my life, like, for real. And believe me, my life was a massive trainwreck when I was in active addiction, and it continued to be a big trainwreck in early recovery as well. And don’t get me wrong, I still have my moments. Just not so many of them. 

Anyway, I received all sorts of suggestions from my fellows in sobriety (I got sober in a twelve-step program), and the suggestion that I heard probably the most, particularly from old-timers, was that my recovery should come first. Honestly, I didn’t get it. I mean, I had to earn a living, pay my bills, and maintain my relationship with my significant other. Surely, these things had to all be in place and come first, right? It’s not that my recovery wasn’t important, but how could I live without the other things? And yes, I did date in my first year of sobriety and no, it didn’t end well (there’s a reason why people suggest not dating in your first year), but that’s another post. 

A solid recovery program should be front and center

Anyway, all those old-timers who suggested that our recovery should come first were definitely onto something, and this is abundantly clear to me now. But it took me nearly a decade in recovery to truly realize this. Sure, paying the bills, maintaining healthy relationships, and all that other grownup stuff we need to do –– those things are all important and, for the most part, essential. But I do believe that for those of us who are addicts and alcoholics, like, to our cores, a solid recovery program needs to be front and center. 

This doesn’t mean we need to spend four hours a day reciting the Serenity Prayer over and over again (if we’re in a twelve-step program) and spending the other ten waking hours sitting in meetings. But it does mean making our recovery our top priority, making sure we don’t slack on meetings and all the other things that keep us sober (meditation, step-work if applicable – stuff like that). This gives us a solid foundation from which we can then build upon so that we can maintain all the other good things we have in our lives that, for many of us, are gifts of our recovery. 

We put drugs and alcohol first before, so why can’t recovery come first now?

Think about it –– how many of you in recovery who are reading this post spent a massive chunk of your energy (and paychecks) on drugs, alcohol, or other compulsive behaviors? For many––if not most––of us, getting drunk or high (or acting out in some way) was a priority for us before we got sober. It came before our work, our families, and our relationships and, in fact, many of us ended up getting clean because we lost a lot of these things, or came very close to losing them. So, why shouldn’t our recovery come first when it’s the one thing that has the opposite effect? In other words, it tends to do things like save our marriages, keep us from losing jobs, and in general, it strengthens our friendships as well. 

We can’t be of service to others if we don’t take care of ourselves first 

The beautiful thing about getting clean and sober is that we’re then able to be of service to others. This can mean helping others in recovery to stay clean through things like sponsorship or just general moral support. It can also mean being of service to the community, and to our own families. But we need to fill our own cups first, otherwise, we’re useless to others. And this doesn’t just mean staying clean off the drugs or the booze. Most of us who struggle with addiction have underlying issues that drove us to drink, use or act out in the first place. 

Addressing the root cause

By addressing the root cause or causes of our addictive behaviors, we can effectively build healthier ways of coping with them that don’t involve chemical substances. This can include things like meditation, a healthy diet, exercise, recovery meetings, step work (again, if applicable), and connecting with others in recovery. If we don’t stay on top of these things, however, who’s to say we’re not going to slip right back into our old ways? And this doesn’t necessarily mean we’re always going to relapse if we don’t work a good recovery program, but we’re very likely to act out in other ways and become very unpleasant humans to be around. For anyone who’s truly hooked on a substance, you can’t just take that substance away and expect them to be happy, joyous and free without any further work. Sure, it could happen, but it’s highly unlikely. 

Putting yourself first speaks volumes and others who care about you will respect you for it. Love yourself by putting your recovery first, and watch how everything else in your life, as if by magic, will fall into place. 

Kembali Recovery Center can help 

If you or someone you love is struggling to get or stay clean, Kembali Recovery Center can help. Contact us today to learn more about our 28-day Residential Treatment Program as well as our Recovery and Beyond Program. Remember, you never have to do this alone. 

** Please note that given the current spread of COVID-19, our intake policies have changed. Regional policies in Indonesia are being updated daily in order to control the spread of the virus, so please contact us directly for the latest information. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience during these times. Please know that we’re always available to connect and answer any recovery-related questions or concerns that you have in the interim.

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