Marcel started as an intake counselor for a drug rehabilitation center in 2000. During his five years as an intake counselor, he helped many addicts get the treatment they needed. He also dealt with the families and friends of those people; he saw first-hand how much strain addiction puts on a family and how it can tear relationships apart. With drug and alcohol problems constantly on the rise in the United States and Canada, he decided to use the Internet to educate and help many more people in both countries.
For the past 17 years, Marcel has been working with his family and other addiction professionals to build two of the largest substance use resource websites in the U.S. and Canada. These websites help millions of people each year by providing listings for every type of drug rehab service available in the country. To complement this, Marcel is constantly writing helpful tips and providing resources to keep individuals updated with the ever-evolving subject of addiction recovery. The quality of his work has not gone unnoticed, and the Government of Canada has recently included his Canadian website, Drugrehab.ca, on a short list of country-wide resources for getting help with substance use.
Your Recovery Pathway Does Not Have to be an Endless Struggle; Here are 10 Tips to Keep You on Track
The recovery journey is different for each person, yet there are similar struggles that many people face. Recovery can be challenging and rewarding, but in the long run, it all pays off as you become stronger and more able to maintain life-long sobriety.
The pathway does not have to be an endless struggle; there are workable solutions to every problem. The following tips are designed to give some ideas to help you along the way.
Here are ten tips to keep you on track during your recovery, regardless of what stage it may be and how long you choose to be in recovery.
- During the Beginning of Recovery
Tip one: Establish routine, structure, and schedule after rehab. There are schedules, routines, and structure, whether you attended residential or outpatient drug rehab. It is a good idea to keep this going after treatment. The best way to accomplish this is to set schedules for when you wake up, go to bed, work out, attend meetings, or therapy.
Additionally, it is important to set schedules for your hobbies, interests, and things that bring you joy. Find an app, use a calendar, or use post-it notes; keeping schedules, structure, and routines is essential.
Tip two: Do not be afraid to make support from others a priority. In the beginning, this can be especially vital. Some of the best support options are group meetings, peer support groups, recovery coaching, or even outpatient counseling. There can be some significant challenges initially, so reaching out for support is smart.
Recovery coaching is an excellent option if you can afford it because it is personalized and usually accessible 24/7. Peer support or group meetings are also practical, free, and an opportunity to meet other like-minded sober individuals.
Tip three: Begin to establish short-term goals. There is no better time to begin to set goals, no matter how small they could be. Settings goals give you something to work towards, and it is essential to select more than one.
“Having goals makes the recovery process much easier, as it is something to work towards, and it gives purpose,” said Marcel Gemme of addicted.org. “It can be a small or big goal, but staying productive and having purpose is vital.”
Small goals could include going to the gym two to three times a week, eating healthier food, getting out to nature once a week, or finding part-time or full-time employment. Write the goals down somewhere you see them every day. Remind yourself it is possible because it is a marathon, not a sprint.
- During the Middle of Recovery
Tip four—Share and express gratitude. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by starting a gratitude journal. A simple habit of reflecting on what you’re grateful for leads to a happier and more content life. Write down random thoughts, whether this is about your day or things that happened recently, yet, highlight everything you are grateful for.
Include this into your schedule and routine, whether it is once a week or multiple times a week. Focussing on these benefits and gratitude helps lower stress. It also creates a greater sense of calm and a whole new level of clarity.
Tip five—Never forget your triggers, and continue to be aware of risky situations. Throughout your recovery, you likely became aware of things that trigger cravings or past images of drug use. During the early stages of recovery, it is a good idea not to let your guard down.
Things are likely going well; you’re overcoming hurdles and making significant progress. Now is not a good time to ignore any potential triggers or risky situations that create these triggers. Remind yourself that you have the tools to address these problems and know what to do. You have come this far and will not let anything stop you from going further.
Tip six—Pay attention to your milestones and personal accomplishments. Whether you have come one month, three months, six months, or a year, do not disregard any milestone or personal achievement. It does not matter how small or large it is.
It could be achieving one-month sobriety, finding a steady job, reconnecting with family and friends, or getting a place to live. Celebrate these milestones and accomplishments, and take the time to give yourself recognition.
Tip seven—Place close attention to keeping things in balance within your life. As you grow more confident, it is a good idea to keep this confidence going. Try not to let tension and stress get the best of you and turn to reliable, healthy methods to manage stress.
Never forget that you have choices in life; part of these choices involves choosing to maintain control and take responsibility for things in your life that you can take responsibility for. Ultimately, you decide which direction you want your life to go.
- The Tail End of Recovery and Onward to Lifelong Sobriety
Tip eight—Turn those short-term goals into long-term goals. These goals could be anything that benefits you in every aspect of your life, for example, turning your current work into a full-time career. In addition, it could be taking your side hustle and turning it into a money-making machine.
You may have ambitions of starting a family, business, traveling, or focusing more on your physical, mental, or spiritual well-being. Take steps to achieve these long-term goals, giving you even more to work towards.
Tip nine—Keep giving back to the community and never stop learning new life skills. Part of successful long-term recovery involves giving back to the community, as communities often provide support. This could include volunteer work, non-profit organizations, or helping others in recovery.
Along the way, never stop learning new things, and consider how much you have gained up to this point, the knowledge, skills, and tools that helped you achieve life-long sobriety. It is never too late to learn something new that contributes to even more of a successful life.
Tip ten—The “in recovery” label does not have to be permanent if you do not want it to be. This comes down to being a personal choice. It is ok to consider yourself in recovery for as long as you want. In contrast, it is also ok to no longer consider yourself in recovery; it does not have to be a label that you live with every day.
Some individuals believe in being in recovery as it reminds them of the work and dedication they put into working on their recovery and sobriety. On the other hand, others want to move forward with their lives and put this part of their life behind them for good.
Ultimately the choice is yours, and what you choose to identify should make you happy and be something that continues to keep you motivated to achieve all the things you want in life.
Marcel Gemme has been helping people struggling with substance abuse for over 20 years. He started as an intake counselor for a drug rehabilitation center in 2000. With drug and alcohol problems constantly increasing, he utilized his website, Addicted.org, and community outreach to spread awareness. His primary focus is threefold: education, prevention, and rehabilitation.