Recovering from substances can feel like an internal war. Some days are lighter battles and other days you’ll feel like you’re fighting for sobriety with everything you have. While the journey is long and difficult, the victory at the end is worth every step.

If you’re in recovery you’re sure to encounter challenges and setbacks. No two individuals will experience the same difficulties, but there are some common threads in the timeline of substance use recovery. Based on those commonalities, use this timeline as a guide to gauge where you are in recovery and what lies ahead.

Find freedom in sobriety and motivation as you blaze your path to recovery.

1. The starting point

Each person in recovery starts somewhere. Whether the starting point was a definitive moment or has been a slow build-up over the course of years, each person will have made the switch between the desire to continue using and the decision to find freedom in sobriety.

You’ll know you’re at the starting point when you have the desire to break free from drugs. Regardless of the steps you’ve taken from that point on, the decision to pursue a different life, one free from drugs and alcohol, is the crucial turning point that begins a journey on the stages of recovery from addiction.

You may have never considered the extreme weight of this first step. In reality, it could be the most important. A recovery is always an act of the will and something that needs to be consciously chosen. No one can be forced to get clean. Only you can recognize the damage substance use has done in your life and decide to change.

2. Getting connected

The next step in the stages of recovery from addiction is reaching out for help. Whether it’s a visit to a doctor, a phone call to a rehab center or having a friend take you to an inpatient detox facility, the safest and most successful way forward is getting in contact with professional rehabilitation services.

At this stage in the process, it’s also important to express your commitment to family and friends for added accountability. You may also meet with an addiction specialist, mental health therapist or other medical or mental health professionals. The array of services and support you seek at this time should be catered to your needs and preferences, and assure the highest level of care.

3. An intake assessment

Even if you’ve been to inpatient treatment before in your search for freedom through sobriety, you’re likely to undergo an intake assessment. When you reach out for professional substance use recovery treatment, you’ll experience an initial assessment or evaluation. This assessment will help a facility determine the most appropriate level of care for the severity of your addiction.

The intake or level of care assessment will factor in the substances used, the length and severity of your addiction, your current living situation, personal health history, past experiences in treatment, any co-occurring mental health or physical conditions and other aspects of your life that could impact your recovery.

The intake assessment is designed to lay the foundation for personalized treatment. While the assessment may feel formal or impersonal, the goal is to use it as a launch point for the services you’ll receive. For example, you’ll likely be matched with a medically-managed inpatient program if you’re likely to experience intense or dangerous withdrawal symptoms, or outpatient treatment if your addiction was milder.

4. Starting treatment

Following the intake assessment, you’ll be matched with the most appropriate program of care and begin your first day. This will be your first taste of finding freedom through sobriety as you’ll be taking actionable steps to heal and change your life. The first day of treatment will vary depending on the type of program that fits your needs.

Generally, those who are in recovery experience a withdrawal period in which their bodies re-adjust to a system without drugs or alcohol. The tolerance that has been building up for months, years or longer is quickly reversing. This tends to begin within the first day of treatment.

5. Detox

You may begin to feel symptoms of withdrawal within the first hours after your last use. This period of withdrawal, which is normally abated by continued drug use, results in painful and sometimes dangerous symptoms. Detox facilities are designed to offer 24/7 medical and mental health support during these difficult days.

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

Detox requires active participation and serious commitment, but finding freedom through sobriety doesn’t stop when withdrawal symptoms subside. A huge step in the process of recovery is doing the hard work of treatment.

Some aspects of the 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

The stages of recovery from addiction may seem to happen quickly at first, and slower later on. While the early days of recovery are intense and difficult, the next weeks and months in treatment still demand dedication. Making continual progress in recovery can feel slow, but this is the phase when important benchmarks of recovery are reached.

Individualized treatment plans are essential at this stage in the game. Each person will collaborate with a treatment team to establish goals related to sobriety, family life, career, independence, finances and so forth.

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 find freedom in recovery, 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.