Renaissance Ranch

What to Expect in the First Year of Recovery

Mar 25, 2024

Recognizing an individual’s need to pursue addiction treatment and recovery is a powerful step in the healing process. Those who are beginning their journey to sobriety in treatment may feel a wide range of emotions, from excitement and relief to anxiety and overwhelm. This is to be expected, as sobriety is likely uncharted territory. To effectively establish and sustain sobriety, however, individuals must prepare to implement new habits and lifestyle changes that are supportive of their newfound recovery. Meanwhile, learning what to expect and how to prepare for some of the trials and challenges that will surface in the first year of recovery can ensure that individuals feel supported and empowered to stay committed to the journey. 

At Renaissance Ranch, we believe it can be valuable for those in early recovery to know and prepare for the potential obstacles that may hinder achieving lasting healing and recovery. Though everyone’s addiction and mental health recovery journey will be unique to them, there are certainly shared expectations and challenges that most people experience. Thus, knowing what to expect can be especially helpful for planning and preventing certain obstacles from interfering with an individual’s recovery progress. 

Creating Realistic Expectations About the First Year of Recovery

One of the most important things to understand about the first year of recovery is that unrealistic expectations can be especially harmful to the process. Holding oneself to unachievable expectations can add unnecessary pressure and stress to the already difficult journey, increasing one’s vulnerability to relapse. Therefore, by creating realistic expectations about the first year of recovery, individuals can equip themselves with a healthier framework for lasting success. 

Contrary to what some may believe, the first year of recovery is often the most challenging. It frequently involves recovering from alcohol or other types of drug withdrawals as well as physical and psychological cravings or dependence. These long-term withdrawal symptoms can tempt individuals into using substances again at the slightest inconvenience or stressor, placing them at a uniquely high risk of relapse. Meanwhile, those who engaged in substance abuse in an attempt to self-medicate co-occurring mental health disorders or unresolved trauma may be especially at risk of relapse and will need to develop healthier coping mechanisms to sustain sobriety during treatment. 

During the first year of recovery, individuals can expect to spend most of their time creating a new routine. They will likely need to alter their friend groups, learn how to balance treatment with other responsibilities, and let go of the people, places, or things that could jeopardize their newfound sobriety. It can be beneficial to take recovery day by day, especially at the beginning of the first year, to reduce any long-term pressures while setting reasonable goals. 

Challenges to Expect During the First Year of Recovery

As mentioned previously, substance abuse cravings and withdrawals are to be expected in early recovery. Most people will need to participate in a detoxification program before entering treatment to address these cravings in a medically assisted setting. It is important to detox the remnants of alcohol and other drugs out of one’s body before beginning treatment, as this ensures that an individual is physically stable and ready to engage in therapy. 

Once detox is completed, an individual will participate in one of many different types of treatment programs based on their unique needs, from residential to intensive outpatient (IOP) or a general outpatient program. Although each program offers different levels of care, each is equipped with varying treatment approaches and therapeutic interventions designed to meet the client’s individualized needs. 

In the first few weeks or months of treatment, individuals can expect to experience challenging thoughts and emotions. Feelings of guilt, shame, self-blame, and more may all be common. Fortunately, with the client in mind, therapy can help individuals address these feelings as they surface without letting them interfere with the recovery process. 

Group therapy interventions can also be especially helpful during this time, as they provide greater accountability and social support. Feelings of isolation and loneliness are also to be expected from time to time, as sobriety is a narrow path. Yet, the peers gained in group therapy, support groups, and sobriety, in general, will inform authentic connections that will empower one another to remain dedicated and committed to their healing. 

Furthermore, during treatment, individuals can access life-skills building, mentorship, family programs, sober living, and relapse prevention groups. As recovery is a lifelong journey, the relapse prevention skills implemented in the first year of recovery will create a strong foundation for lasting sobriety and recovery. 

What to Expect From Renaissance Ranch

At Renaissance Ranch, we have been helping men recover from addiction for more than 20 years. From the moment of treatment inquiry, we know how important it can be to help clients know what to expect from the addiction recovery journey and our specific rehabilitation programs. By offering evidence-based modalities in conjunction with a 12-Step and faith-based approach, we have something for everyone here at the Ranch. 

The first year of recovery is wrought with challenges. Yet, it also provides endless opportunities for individuals to start their lives anew. Knowing what to expect during the first year of recovery can be valuable, from creating realistic expectations to preparing for potential challenges. Meanwhile, having a brief overview of the process can reduce feelings that can overwhelm and provide clarity for what’s to come. At Renaissance Ranch, we believe that preparing you for what to expect is a critical part of early sobriety. Not only does it help to prevent relapse, but it also allows you to plan. Learn more about our treatment programs by calling (801) 308-8898 today.