Keeping Motivation After Your First Year of Recovery

Keeping Motivation After Your First Year of Recovery

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Congratulations! You’ve made it through your first year of recovery! This is an important milestone you’ll never forget. You should feel proud making it this far. However, there is still work to be done. You might feel on the verge of burnout, or maybe you feel like celebrating this milestone responsibly. This is only the beginning. There’s still so much to look forward to after your first year of recovery. Don’t lose motivation now!

This Is Only Just the Beginning

An entire year has passed, and you’re ready to grab your chip at your next 12-Step meeting. You might feel on top of the world, and you should. The first year is an important milestone in the recovery process. The first year is truly the hardest because your body, mind, and spirit are still adjusting to sobriety. It’s advised to take it easy during your first year while you build your life back up one brick at a time. You might find yourself caught up in the honeymoon phase of recovery, where nothing feels like it can go wrong.

The truth is, sobriety and recovery are life-long endeavors. You are still at the very beginning of your new life, learning more about yourself every single day. There will still be challenges, twists, and turns that might throw you off your game. While you’ve filled your toolbox with healthy coping mechanisms and started putting wellness first, it doesn’t mean it’ll get easier from this point forward. Sobriety will still come with its challenges, and you need to stay motivated to conquer each one.

The Importance of Continuing Aftercare

Many might wonder the point of attending appointments and meetings long after treatment. You might feel like you’re already “cured,” so why do you need to keep the busy schedule? Since recovery is lifelong, continuing your care after treatment is vital to avoiding relapse. You might feel fine right now, but addiction has long-term effects on your brain. Your brain became completely rewired after relying on substances. Some of that changes over time; however, your reward system will still be impacted by your substance use. This is why people still relapse years after treatment.

Avoiding Recovery Burnout

Feeling tired of recovery, with its expectations and obligations, can be a huge part of losing motivation after your first year. In the beginning, things feel fresh and new, but they can feel repetitive and stale over time. It’s essential to catch these feelings before they become a significant issue in your recovery process. If you begin to have feelings of apathy, stress, or doubt in your sobriety, then talk to your therapist. These could be signs of recovery burnout.

The solution to fixing burnout could be anything from lessening the load in your schedule, switching up your obligations, and adding something new to your routine. Burnout is dangerous if ignored because it can lead to relapse if you aren’t careful.

Always Setting New Goals

Goal-setting might have been a major part of your first year of recovery. You filled your time by achieving goals that helped you develop a life you feel proud of. It would be best if you never stopped setting new ones. When you accomplish a goal, ask yourself, “What is the next step?” For example, you might have had a plan to run a mile every day. Now that you’ve consistently met that target, it’s time to turn up the heat. Instead of running a mile, make it a mile and a half or two! Setting new goals keeps you motivated by giving you something to strive for.

Keeping Your Motivations at the Forefront

When you entered treatment, you probably had a reason to get help in the first place. Whether it was to stay sober for your children or to live long enough to see your favorite band play live, there are countless reasons why addressing your addiction and remaining sober was vital to you. If you feel like you are losing motivation, keep those reasons at the forefront of your mind. Write them down somewhere you can see. They are why you are still here.

A lot can change in a year, including your motivations for sobriety. During that first year, you experienced a metamorphosis. You learn more about your inner self through soul-searching, which might have changed your worldview.

Your motivation now may look different than it did at the beginning of treatment or the first day of recovery. A year ago, what spoke to you might not speak so strongly now, and that’s okay. When you feel yourself losing motivation, it might mean that you need a new reason to stay sober that fits with your values. Take time for personal inventory and think about why you need to stay sober.

Making it to your first year of sobriety is a milestone you should feel proud of. However, many believe that the hard part is over when their recovery journey is only just beginning. Recovery is a life-long experience. Addiction still affects the brain long after treatment, exposing you to relapse if you aren’t careful. Don’t lose motivation now just because the honeymoon phase is ending. There are still new joys and experiences waiting just around the corner. You’ll still have challenges to conquer in your life using coping skills and strategies taught to you in treatment. Staying motivated is paramount. Jaywalker Lodge offers aftercare services through our outpatient and sober living programs. We work to provide our clients with continued care that reflects the skills they learned in treatment. We offer group counseling and individual therapy, focusing primarily on relapse prevention. To learn more, call us at (866) 529-9255 today. 

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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