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The First Year of Recovery

The journey to recovery is unique for everyone, but there are common methods of success. Knowing what others experienced helps us understand that this process is a complex one, and we must approach it with an open mind. And the first year of recovery is often the most challenging–we are creatures of habit after all. We asked some of our ambassadors to share some of the tools and techniques that helped them the most during their first year of recovery. 

Sean MacMillen

Sober since May 30, 2012

I found several things very helpful to me during my first year of recovery, so it is difficult to pinpoint just one thing. One of the most helpful things was actually reaching out for help and accepting that help. I often tell people the three hardest words I ever had to say were "I need help!" They are now the three words I am most grateful for ever saying. That led to me to a group of positive people in recovery. For the first time in a long time, I felt connected to other people. Actively working with my sponsor and others in recovery proved to be very helpful as well. I came from an occupation that preached "Surrender is not a Ranger Word." One of the biggest breakthroughs probably occurred when I learned that I had to surrender to win.

Running was one of my biggest lifesavers! It kept my mind occupied and seemed to calm the demons. I soon discovered the better I felt physically, the better I felt mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Running also surrounded me with positive, supportive people. The trail running community in Central PA has become more of a family to me, again that sense of camaraderie and connection. Running also served as a method to give back to the community that I was a drain on for years.

I was running for fun, not running from myself!

Kami Wolf

Sober since July 4, 2015

MY FRIENDS. I have built the strongest support network with real friends that believe in me and have supported me during all of the scary, unsure obstacles through my first year of sobriety.  These people gave me hope and have pushed me to be the best person I can be. I can count on them to call me out when I need to be called out, or to be there for me when I need help making life decisions or some guidance. Lets face it, we have a lot of growing up to do when we first get sober. I couldn't do it on my own.

Having friends that knew my story but still saw the potential in me, and kept fighting with me, has been helpful through my first year of recovery. A lot of my friends I have made during my first year of sobriety are into running/working out and have inspired and motivated me to push myself everyday. I have people in my life today that love me for me and have shown me what true friends are like. I have never had that before. (alcohol was my best friend...and what a lonely, depressing life that was.) My life is so much brighter and happy today!! I don't have to go through this crazy rollercoaster of life on my own....and I am so thankful for that.

Mike Martinez

Sober since April 28, 1992

In my first year of recovery, I found the rooms of AA to be VITAL to my recovery and sobriety. Surrounding myself with others in recovery was paramount in maintaining my sobriety.

Nancy Cubbedge

Sober since March 5, 2003

What I found most helpful for me in the first year of recovery was going to meetings every day (sometimes twice a day) and getting a strong sponsor who wasn't afraid to call me out on stuff. She always knew when I was full of BS and she'd say so. However, she exuded the strength I needed so I drew from that even when she wasn't around.

Mariel Harrison

Sober since May 7, 2007

Having access to housing was vital in my first year of recovery. As someone who has previously been homeless and incarcerated - having a safe place to rest my head on was vital for me to focus on my recovery. Secondly having employment opportunities were also vital, that way I was not constantly so stressed about money, that I could focus on my recovery. I also think peer relationships were essential - to know that others had been where I had been and felt where I had felt - giving me hope, which helped me to invest in my recovery.

Henry T. Ward III

Sober since November 17, 2008

The most helpful thing was getting help.  I enrolled in an intensive outpatient program.  I found that finally understanding that I could not just quit on my own, and completely understanding that I was powerless was huge.

Also, realizing and being around others in recovery, and knowing that we have similar issues, and I was not alone. 

Katie Friedlander

I think for me and my addiction (food) the first year of recovery was my easiest year. I was losing weight rapidly, 300 pounds to 170 in one year. So I had what we called a pink cloud. What I did to make it easy was just listen to those who came before me and followed direction. I had to change a lot about my lifestyle but it was simple. At the same time I changed my eating, I also let go of drinking and smoking weed. What I did is change my friends and my social circle so that I was not tempted to partake. It was a blessing too that I met my now husband who had no addiction issues and hardly ever drank and never touched drugs. A True gift.

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