When you are in recovery for any kind of addiction or “problem behavior”, your wellness and recovery must come first. Taking your recovery first is being accountable and responsible for yourself. It isn’t selfish. Addiction is a tricky thing – it wants you to go back and have a reason or rationalization for it. It’s kind like Gollum and the ring. He is always seeking to recover his precious, even though it has destroyed the man he once was (Smeagol).
A solid recovery program must be front and center for any addict. It doesn’t mean that other things like earning a living, maintaining relationships, etc. aren’t important. They are. You see, the problem that most addicts face when getting sober is they have no idea how to prioritize healthy things in their life. While in active addiction, their priorities revolved around getting drunk, high or engaging in their problem behavior. Once in recovery, those priorities are gone and it’s difficult to know how to focus on things you neglected while you were in active addiction.
So, what does making your recovery come first look like? Well, it isn’t spending every waking minute sitting in meetings or focusing on not using. It’s defining all the things you need to do to stay in recovery and be well and prioritizing them every day. Maybe that means going to a meeting before or after work every day for a while. Maybe its spending some time meditating or working out. Whatever things you have found that helps you stay sober should be part of your daily habits.
Another thing worth mentioning is changing your people, places, and things. You cannot heal in the same environment where you got sick. Obviously, this means the people, places and things that supported you being in active addiction. But it is also people, places and things that stir up emotions inside you that trigger you to wanting to use. Maybe you can re-incorporate them into your life further into your journey once you develop healthier coping skills. But it is okay to let go of these things if having them in your life causes your sobriety to be in jeopardy.
Remember, if you want to be able to show up for others, you have to take care of yourself. And you can’t be of service to others if you don’t take care of yourself first. I know many people who are recovering addicts who are drug counselors now. And they know that if they don’t look after themselves, they can easily slip back into unhealthy patterns and routines that make them vulnerable to slipping up or a relapse.