Early recovery from addiction involves change in attitude and beliefs about alcohol and drug abuse. Recovering addicts and alcoholics explore the meaning and consequences of chemical use and learn to cope with life without substances in their early recovery.

Addiction is two-faced

Alcoholism or drug addiction is a combination of two problems – drinking/ using problem which refers to the abuse of chemicals that damages the mind and body, and thinking problem which refers to the irrational thoughts, unmanageable feelings, and self-defeating behaviors related to drinking and using.

In the early stage, the focus is on correcting the thinking problems associated to addiction. Addicts and alcoholics come to consciously understand the laws and principles that create and maintain the change. In other words, they learn the terminology and concepts necessary to understand addiction and what needs to be done to maintain positive changes. Understanding addiction involves recognizing it as a disease, identifying that information with self, and applying the same information with a thorough knowledge of the consequences. This can be assessed when the addict/alcoholic in recovery is able to defend this belief to people who might try to convince them that he/she doesn’t have a problem. When this doesn’t happen, it is clear that the addict doubts/minimizes the problem and thereby gets tangled in the loops of denial. This can be overcome by having a conversation between the ‘sober self’ and ‘addictive self.’ The goal of recovery is to keep the ‘sober self’ in active mode at all times.

Way to acceptance

With understanding comes acceptance. Acceptance is an emotional process that involves resolution of pain, shame, guilt and unresolved painful experiences that occurred during the course of addiction. This can be resolved only by sharing with other people in a safe environment, with others who can understand and identify without being judgmental. The more it is shared and talked about, the more sense of relief is experienced, thereby the intensity of the pain is reduced. This can be done in 4 ways:

1. By listening to others’ stories - this may help the addicts/alcoholics to feel belonged, that they are not alone to face such painful and traumatic experiences.

2. By sharing their story - this allows an emotional catharsis to take place as and when the painful experiences are shared. As this process continues, there comes a magical moment when you feel a sense of relief and resolution.

3. Participating in counseling - this helps addicts/alcoholics to get totally aware of the painful incidents as and when the counselor fills in the blind spots by employing therapeutic techniques.

4. Working the Steps - the initial seven steps help to deal with the internal change process - a change of thinking, feeling, and being.

Therefore, early recovery helps in the development of a sobriety-centred value system by bringing in an internal change in the addict/alcoholic with the help of others who guide and provide directions towards the path of sustained recovery and sobriety.