The journey towards sobriety is anything but a straight and easy path. There are bound to be setbacks and challenges and no two roads look the same. While each journey, like each individual, is unique, there are some commonalities in the timeline of substance use recovery.

Let this timeline act as a guide for what you can expect in recovering from an addiction. Here we’ll outline the steps to get free, from the first moment you decide to change, to life-long sobriety.

1. The starting point

Everyone’s timeline of recovery starts somewhere. It may be a gradual build that began a few years ago, or it could have started yesterday. The starting point of recovery is when you think to yourself that it’s time to get clean.

While some may not consider this to be a step in the process of getting sober, it might actually be the most important. While friends, family and professionals can support recovery, the key player in your sobriety is you. Without your realization that substances are destroying your life and your commitment to change, you won’t get far in the process.

2. Getting connected

The next step on the road to recovery is reaching out for help. This step is all about getting connected to the right support and the right services. For some, this task includes sharing about the struggle with addiction with a loved one. Some may share about their desire to break free with a therapist. Others may go straight to an addiction specialist to ask for assistance. Regardless of your first confidant, as soon as you open up you can get connected to the treatment you need.

3. The assessment

The next step in your journey is going to be much more formal than the first two. When you reach out for treatment, a provider will first conduct a level of care assessment before recommending a particular program. This assessment will help a facility and yourself to determine the most appropriate services to help heal your addiction. 

You’ll be recommended to start with either inpatient or outpatient services, and in some cases hospitalization may be the most appropriate level of care to protect your health and safety. In addition to these levels, each facility may have its own subcategories of services.

4. Starting treatment

After a level of care assessment you’ll begin your first official day of treatment. Generally, inpatient services, which are residential, will kick start your treatment. Remaining in a facility with 24/7 supervision ensures that you have mental and medical support during the painful and dangerous period of detox and withdrawal.

5. Detox

Within hours of your last use you’ll start to feel symptoms of detox. Whether you’re recovering from drugs or alcohol, you may experience fatigue, anxiety, depression, nausea, vomiting, sweating, shaking or more severe symptoms like seizures or hallucinations. Unfortunately, the difficulty of detox often drives people back to substances to alleviate cravings and manage the emotional distress of the detox process. Partaking in professional treatment gives you the best shot at making it through detox.

6. Participating in treatment

A huge step in the process of recovery is doing the hard work of treatment. Some aspects of treatment you can expect include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, life skills training, vocational assistance, individual counseling, medication assisted treatment, a 12 step program and more. While many of these aspects have shown to be effective on their own, for a comprehensive treatment plan you’ll want to have a combination of treatment modalities.

7. Making progress

Maybe the most lengthy stage of the entire process in putting in the work during treatment and making slow but steady progress. While there are benchmarks during treatment, they tend to be individualized in treatment plans and therefore are hard to boil down into separate and universal steps.

In this step of the recovery process, you’ll reach personal and sobriety goals, learn new life skills, find exciting hobbies, create positive relationships and find new meaning in your life. This step may span years, but it is littered with rewards and victories.

8. Reaching recovery

There are no hard and fast rules for when you’ve successfully achieved recovery, but there are some sure signs that you’ve made substantial progress and you won’t feel like you’re constantly battling triggers.

Living a life of freedom is possible after a struggle with addiction. Professional treatment can help you get your life back, and the sooner you start the sooner you can get back control of your life.

Real Recovery Clinical Services can walk with you every step of the way on your journey toward freedom. Licensed and certified professionals will be right by your side to help you manage detox and heal the root of your addiction. Call (855) 363-7325 today to find out more.