Why Are the First 90 Days So Important?
The first 90 days of your sobriety is often considered to be the most important, and the most dangerous. It has many names and many definitions. It’s been called the “danger zone”, or is referred to as “intensive care”. This is because it is the most difficult part of sobriety. Relapse is at it’s highest during these first 90 days because they are so challenging. The good news is, you are not alone and we are here to help you.
You have just been through a life changing experience and your body, mind and spirit are different from it. Your first three months are when you need support and guidance more than ever. This is your first major milestone in recovery, and while it should be celebrated, it must also be taken very seriously if you want to stay on the path.
Let’s look at these first 90 days together, understand their relevance and make the most of them. Your goal is to build a foundation during these first 90 days that will keep you going through day 900 and beyond.
This, by far, will be the hardest and most painful part of your journey. In this time frame, you may have come to the decision on your own, or received an intervention from loved ones, but whatever the case, you know that you need to get help. Real help. Maybe you or a family member has even already contacted a treatment center near you to set up a chart. This is your first step toward sobriety.
Depending on what you’ve been using, your first week will likely consist of some form of medical detox. Withdrawal is rough, between the painful side effects and deep cravings, but a responsible medical team will help you through it as comfortably as possible. For many, this is very frightening, but once they have come out of the fog, the healing can begin.
The remainder of month one should take place in a residential inpatient program, where you have 24/7 access to medical staff and regular group support and therapy. This makes the transition much smoother and highly reduces the risk of relapse. While some choose to only detox and then return to life, this is NOT recommended. Studies have shown that sticking in a residential program post detox is the most effective way to prevent relapse in your first 90 days.
There is so much movement during this time! You may feel slightly overwhelmed, but take every part of your recovery day by day. A lot is going to happen after your first month. You may choose to continue with treatment and do a partial hospitalization program followed by intensive outpatient. This is, again, very recommended. Continuing to get the love and support of medical professionals, therapists and your new sober brothers and sisters is paramount in ensuring ongoing success. You will also work with your case manager during this time to set up your aftercare plan and work toward your goals of returning home. Will you return home immediately, or will you choose to live in sober living housing temporarily? These are big decisions, and will help you figure out your path going forward.
There are other important things to think about during this time, some of which include:
- Reconnecting with Family and Friends
- Living and Work Arrangements
- Hygiene and Physical Health
- Mental Wellness
All of this is a big part of why the first 90 days are a challenge. There is a whole new world to explore, and a new chapter in your life has just begun. Part of why it is so valuable to stay in treatment during this time is because the help and guidance of your support staff will make this much more manageable. By making the most of your first three months, you are preparing yourself for a lifetime of healthier, happier living.
Making the Most of Your First 90 Days
The first three months are tough whether you are still actively in a treatment center, or if you have returned home. You are rewiring yourself, reinventing your whole life! In most ways, this is fantastic. In some ways, it is scary. While there is a lot to figure out, here are some things that you can work on to make the most of your first 90 days.
Nurturing Your Body
We talk about wellness and physical fitness a lot here at Royal Life Centers, but only because of how absolutely crucial it is to recovery and life in general. During your first three months of sobriety, you are probably drained physically. Active addiction leaves the body weak, malnourished and damaged. This is a great time to start a routine of health and self care.
Now is when you should review your diet and plan out how to eat better. Have you lost an unhealthy amount of weight? Let’s get back to where you need to be! Include a daily schedule of exercise to get the body moving. If you focus on taking care of yourself and making your body feel better, you will begin to see how wonderful it feels to be sober – which will make relapse that much less likely.
Building a Support System
During active addiction, you may have pushed people away. You likely said things you didn’t mean, or isolated yourself completely. It is important to start rebuilding the relationships that were injured. This is a big part of the 12 Step Program. But there is much more to it than that. While you need to repair the bridges to your loved ones, building a new support system is a great idea too.
A sober community or network is going to be an amazing part of your success and ongoing sobriety. While in recovery, making connections with other members of your groups, your therapists, your counselors or your sponsors or mentors will help you see the beauty of clean living. These men and women will inspire you to move forward, and be your strength when you fall. You will also be theirs.
Making Good Habits
They say that it takes about 90 days to start making new habits. What a perfectly synced up timeframe! During your first 90 days sober, it is a great opportunity to put new habits into effect. These can be simple things, but they must all be positive. Keeping an active journal, taking some time for yoga, meditation, art or other great activities. Find new hobbies and make them a priority. Most importantly, make sure you are on a routine schedule of attending your support groups and meetings.
Tips for a Successful 90 Days
There is a lot to think about, a lot to focus on and during your initial time in recovery, your mind is probably racing. To keep things simple, here a short list of some tips for a successful early recovery.
- Have a Safe Space – Create a living space free of triggers or things that may tempt you. You may need to ask a loved one to help you with this. If you do not have a place to return to, consider sober living housing.
- Celebrate Yourself Daily – You made a life changing decision. Give yourself a round of applause!
- Find a trusted sponsor or therapist – This person will continue to advocate for you and help you stay strong during your recovery. If you are still in treatment or in sober living, consider sticking with the therapists there.
- Make a List of Goals – Write down all of the things you want to accomplish now that you are sober. Read this list every day and refer to it when you need a pick me up.
- Take it Slow – Recovery isn’t a race. You don’t need to go back to work tomorrow. You need to get better. You need to limit your stress. Don’t push yourself too hard.
Sobriety Beyond the First 90 Days
Your first year of recovery will have ups and downs. You may experience some mild withdrawal symptoms known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome. It doesn’t happen for everyone, but your body will be healing for some time. They will go away, but you may need help coping. This is why continuing with support groups, therapy and meetings is so important. Your first year will be your own, and not like anyone else’s, but relearning your body and getting into a good schedule and routine will help you with your success. Every day gets easier.
Stay strong. You are not alone.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse of any sort, please reach out to us at (877)-RECOVERY or 877-732-6837. Our team of addiction specialists make themselves available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We are here to help, to be a friend, to show support and to be a positive life in a dark time. Because We Care.