By: Marilyn L. Davis


“You want to know the truth about drugs? You can only go one or two ways- go up, or you can go down. That’s it. After a certain point, though, no matter what you do, what you take, you don’t go anywhere, and that’s when you’ve got to sit down and face yourself.” ―RuPaulLettin it All Hang Out: An Autobiography

Our Brains and Bodies Learned to Function

Most of us were not entirely successful in our first attempts at use; we got drunk and threw up, snorted cocaine and turned into a whirling dervish going nowhere, or missed a vein. We could contemplate our navel for hours or sit in a stupor and not be embarrassed.

The list goes on. Our brains and body were responding poorly to a new substance, and it took us time to adapt when we started using.

However, we did not experience embarrassment over not knowing how to use it successfully, nor did we give in from frustration; no, in fact, most of us dove right in trying things repeatedly, and in the process, we altered our brains.

We Thought We Functioned Just Fine 

With this commitment to our use, our physical, emotional, and mental systems learned to function. Some of us even believed that we performed better on drugs and alcohol as we adjusted to the effects.

We worked; we were Dean’s List Students; we drove our children and others to summer camp and football practice. Some of us even performed surgeries on others; we carried out our obligations and looked like we had it together. On the outside, some of us functioned well.

Learning to live without drugs and alcohol is part of a healing process. Our brain and body need time to regroup and recuperate. Click To Tweet

Adjust Your Attitude While You Heal

 To make this transition more manageable, you will need to have an attitude of acceptance. For instance: 

  1. Accepting that the changes that you are going through are about healing can make it easier.  
  2. Acknowledging that it might take a few months to be present in conversations is a small price to pay.  
  3. Demonstrating some patience towards yourself, your actions, and your thoughts is appropriate.
  4. Let the feelings out – share them in a meeting or group with a sponsor or trusted friend. Write about them. The point is to get them out and let the healing of your emotions begin.  
  5. Giving yourself credit when you accomplish something new can encourage you to do more.

Learn to Use Your Resources

Ask others how they adjusted to early recovery issues, how they developed patience with themselves, how they got over the embarrassments. Most people will be willing and eager to talk about their early struggles and solutions. 

They may even laugh about it, but they are not laughing at you. Usually, they remember their struggles in early recovery and maybe laugh at their early attempts at coping.

Be Encouraging While You Heal

In early recovery, our brain needs to recover its ability to think without chemicals. We begin to improve if we apply the same resolve to healing, not being embarrassed about the shiny moments, asking others how they dealt with forgetting, and talking about our feelings.

We strengthen our resolve to stay in recovery when we show patience with others and ourselves during this time. We are learning about something new – living without drugs and alcohol, and just like any new subject, or when we were learning to use, it will take time.

Ironically, we were so often proud of how well we functioned on drugs and alcohol, yet we cannot muster this same attitude in early recovery. By accepting that our brains, bodies, and emotions are healing, we can gently move from functioning to living – that is the true healing of recovery.

We always have to remember that we did not develop a tolerance overnight and we will not heal overnight, but we can and do recover. Click To Tweet



Marilyn L. Davis is the Editor-in-Chief at From Addict 2 Advocate and Two Drops of Ink. She is also the author of Finding North: A Journey from Addict to Advocate and Memories into Memoir: The Mindsets and Mechanics Workbook, available on Amazon, at Barnes and Noble, Indie Books, and Books A Million.  

When you’ve overcome your fears, found answers in your recovery, or have an encouraging story to tell, consider a guest post. 

Writing and recovery heal the heart.


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