Develop a Plan

Develop a Plan

Recovery demands that you develop a plan. There are some major benchmarks to celebrate and specific discomforts to expect. The first 90 days of recovery is critical to long term success. We have created a timeline for the initial stages of recovery. It will provide a better understanding of the overall experience and what to expect during this exceptional change in your loved one’s life. 

  • The first two weeks of recovery demand a great deal of love and support from the family. This will be an emotional rollercoaster for our loved one. 
  • Towards the completion of the first month, the family will start to recognize their loved one as they were before the addiction. It’s important to not remain steady in support, the second month is often the most difficult
  • The second month involves the AP leaving treatment and returning with newfound sobriety. The transition will cause our loved one a great deal of anxiety, and family empathy is critical at this point
  • Month 3 is a milestone for our loved one. They are wrapping up outpatient treatment and settling into a new life. Meetings and other forms of support must be in place to maintain long term sobriety. 

Weeks 1-2

During the first few weeks, their mind and body may consistently yearn for their substance of choice. Stability feels distant and unattainable. In this initial stage, the subconscious encourages the AP to give into strong cravings. Emotions feel raw and unpredictable because for the first time, we need develop a plan and stick to it to overcome this anxiety. 

When we assess a person for inpatient treatment, we evaluate the AP for the likelihood of them maintaining their sobriety for the first two weeks. Most people can force themselves sober for three or four days, but will they be able to remain sober after a week, when emotions begin to run wild? 

Emotions during the first week tend to swing between extremes. During the first few weeks, APs tend to be angry at their family for “punishing them” and sending them to treatment. They are angry at the treatment center and angry at the people helping them. They have very little insight into why they are actually at the treatment center.

 Everyone has heard stories of someone detoxing for a few days, and immediately returning to use. If we don’t develop a plan and get the AP through this emotional phase, they will not be successful. 

Weeks 3-4 (Month 1)

In the third week of recovery, family and friends begin to recognize their loved one as the person they were before the addiction took hold. “He sounds like his old self,” family members claim. The AP has started to stabilize though the emotional detox. Families will witness a significant shift in the AP, they will understand why they need rehab, and they will begin to see the damage that they have done and show remorse for their behaviors.

As hope begins to stir within them, they may become friendlier and more engaged with their treatment team, making new friends that are also working on continued recovery. Changes made in this first month are significant. For everyone involved, the future looks brighter every day. The AP might start showing overconfidence in their recovery. They will say, “I am glad I came here, I learned my lessons and I know that I will never drink again.” They will convince their family that they are fixed. What they don’t know is that the second month is still difficult.

Month 2

The AP has likely been discharged from the treatment center, returned home, and is in the process of transitioning back into everyday life. During this period, we want to keep an individual busy with recovery work, treatment and programming.

After treatment, the AP is exposed to all the stimuli that supported their use just a few weeks ago. To be sympathetic to an AP during this period, I tell family members to envision anxiety. This anxiety is closely tied to cravings for a substance. 

 In the first few months, there are a lot of firsts: first time going to a restaurant and not drinking, first time hanging out with friends and not drinking, first time they feel happiness and sadness without drinking.

We have to be in a position to carry the AP through this tough month. On the outside they will display overconfidence. The AP may feel they have figured out. If we can get the AP into the 3rd month sober, their emotions will calm down, and they will settle into recovery.

Month 3

In AA, one of the most significant milestones that is celebrated is when someone reaches 90 days. It’s celebrated as a veritable coming of age. The difficulty of early sobriety is over, and there is a shift to maintaining lasting sobriety.

For most people in recovery, the third month is rewarding. They begin to return to themselves. The intensity of the emotions and cravings of the first two months has tapered off, and less recovery work is required to keep them on track.

At this stage, most APs graduate from outpatient treatment and begin settling into programs. It is necessary to maintain a level of commitment throughout the journey to ensure that a decrease in recovery work doesn’t dwindle into no recovery work. Month 3 is about finding a healthy balance between recovery and “real life.”


About Adam Banks

Adam Banks is a certified interventionist and the owner of Adam Banks Recovery. After receiving an MBA from the University of Chicago, Adam built a company acquired by United Health Care. His discipline and attention to detail comes from his former career as an airline pilot, holding an ATP, the FAA’s highest license.

Today, Adam is dedicated to helping others achieve long-term sobriety. His work has guided executives, pilots, and physicians on paths to recovery. Adam brings families together through a loving and inclusive approach. Adam has authored four books on addiction. His recent work, Navigating Recovery Ground School: 12 Lessons to Help Families Navigate Recovery, educates families on the entire intervention process. He also offers a free video course for families considering an intervention for a loved one.

Adam is available for alcohol and drug intervention services in New York, Long Island, the Hamptons as well as nationally and internationally.

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