Finding Happiness in a Sober Life

Finding Happiness in Sober Life

By its very definition, sobriety is a drug-free life. With that comes clarity, freedom, and most importantly, choice. But the ability to choose also introduces new challenges. As dangerous as it is to stay addicted to drugs, going completely drug-free opens up a staggering amount of possibilities. Clubs, pubs, and watering holes are no longer your go-to, and you’re left wondering how to spend an evening. Your usual meeting spots and, in some cases, many of your usual friends won’t play a role in your life anymore, and very quickly it starts to feel like you’re living the life of someone completely different.

So how does one find happiness in a sober life, where every weighty choice comes with the full responsibility of owning up to the consequences, without alcohol to numb the pain or avoid the situation? The answer lies deep inside you. You just have to do the right amount of soul-searching (or therapy) to coax it out.

 

Rediscover Why You Went Sober

There are usually just a handful of reasons that explain why a person finally chooses to work towards their own long-term recovery, in spite of massive challenges that stand ahead. To begin, try and think back to the first five reasons that encapsulate why you decided to commit to sobriety. They could be people, goals, career aspirations, academic interests, or some other hope for the future. They could be pertaining to your own physical and mental health, striving to wake up without hangovers, striving to leave depression and anxiety behind and commit fully to your mental healthcare, striving to avoid an early death at the hands of drug use and the consequences it drags along with it.

Find those reasons, write them down, and keep them close. You could keep them out in the open or in a private journal, but keep them somewhere you’d remember so if you ever need to recall why you’re going through the challenges of recovery, have a look at that list and remember what you felt when you were writing it.

Then consider how long you’ve been sober, and what you’ve already been through. Consider the challenges you’ve faced and how you have been able to rise to the occasion. One thing many people forget to do when they go sober and start on their recovery journey is reflect. Reflecting on how far you’ve come is an important aspect of recovery, because it’s meant to help you solidify your motivation to keep going, and give you an opportunity to recommit if you ever feel like you’re beginning to falter in your dedication to staying clean. Cherish the progress you’ve made, and know you’ve only come so far out of your own strength, and the support of those you love.

 

Nurture Your Interests

One of the greatest benefits of sobriety is the wealth of time you’re sure to acquire as a result of going sober. But time wasted is just as bad as time not had, so it’s important to consider what you’re going to be doing with the time you’ve made available for yourself. While some might argue the only good use for time is to spend it working towards a financial goal, any goal you find worthwhile is something you should invest in.

Spend more of your time sleeping, to ensure that you’re living a healthy life with a consistent sleeping schedule. Spend more of your time in pursuit of hobbies that fill you with joy and anticipation, regardless of what they might be. Spend more time helping others and reaping the benefits of doing good for those around you, including the emotional reward of making up for some of the guilt you may still be carrying.

Most importantly, spend your time learning. Knowledge is very important, especially if it’s the kind you want to keep. Learn more about addiction. Take your time each day to read about the things that interest you, whether it’s advanced pastry making, woodworking, architecture, mythology, language, media production, music, or anything else. Nurture and grow your interests and strive to learn more each day.

 

Be Grateful for Recovery

There are a lot of factors that lead a person to ultimately kickstart their recovery. Just like using drugs begins with a choice, it’s the choice to get better that leads to sobriety. However, before that choice is made, other factors come into play. And long after that choice, life continues to play out in ways we can’t always control, with circumstances and situations we cannot always comprehend or foresee. Some of these are vastly unfortunate, and others are not. While it’s in our nature to dwell on the more unfortunate events, we have to purposefully seek out our own fortune, and celebrate it when it’s found.

Be grateful for the people who helped support you throughout your recovery whether it’s your family, friends, sober living community, or otherwise and sacrifices they made to give you another chance. Be grateful for the professionals involved in your recovery, and how their hard work continues to benefit you in long-term sobriety. Be grateful that everything that was outside your control went the way that it did, landing you the opportunity to grow not just past this addiction, but from this addiction, learning from the mistakes you made and the experiences you gathered and becoming a much better, much more interesting, and much more mature person.

 

Cherish a Life Without Drunkenness

Drunkenness is worse than useless – it’s harmful. A life lived in the flux between the constant worry of what you might say or do when drunk, and the state of being drunk, is no life at all. Getting sloshed doesn’t make you cooler, or better, or more successfully social. If anything, it limits your interactions with others, puts a damper on your ability to truly learn to be comfortable in social situations, and leaves you feeling more anxious, much more irritable, and with a host of potential long-term neurological side effects from lost memories to serious deficits in cognition and thinking.

Without all that, you’ll be healthier than ever, stronger than ever, smarter than ever, feeling and looking better than ever, with more time to attend to your personal needs and invest in others, as well.

These are the basic points from which you can gleam happiness in sobriety – through how you spend your time after going sober. The act of being sober in and of itself isn’t going to make you happy, but it gives you the freedom to choose how to spend your time, now that you have more of it available to you. This brings you to the ability to spend your time investing in yourself, and feeling better than ever, as well as investing in those you love and care for, watching them be grateful for your support. Like any life, life after addiction still has both its ups and downs, but the ups are often much greater, and the downs are often less devastating.

Finding A Job After Recovery

Finding A Job After Recovery

Some recovering addicts may be worried about their job prospects after rehab, but with a bit of networking, an open mind, and a willingness to lean into your work, you will find that your past as an addict might not affect your chances at a career nearly as much as you might think they would. If you’ve ever held a job down and had success in any given field, the major challenge for you is not going to be maintaining employment but overcoming your own anxieties and getting that proverbial foot in the door on your way to your first proper post-rehab job.

Even if you haven’t been employed before getting addicted, your chances at finding a job are not as slim as you might think. We will go over a series of simple tips as to how to land that first job after recovery, as well as go over why employment is so critical in both short-term and long-term recovery, and how it helps you cement your sobriety and continue to work on a fulfilling recovery.

 

How Soon Should You Start?

If you have any choice about when to get back into the job market, the right answer would be to start as soon as you feel ready. Some people need a little extra time in rehab before they feel ready to start working again, but don’t put off your return for too long.

Even in sober living homes, which can be seen as a transition between rehab and normal day-to-day life, one of the many rules most homes adopt is the need to either seek employment or return to school. Rather than considering employment as something to pursue after recovery, see it as one of several steps necessary to succeed in recovery.

 

Tips for Finding Work

Finding work might not be easy, so it’s best to start soon. Before you even decide to commit to any real offers or ideas, start first by doing the initial legwork, such as considering volunteering opportunities, networking inside and outside of your rehab circles and recovery groups, and spending more time making new friends and meeting new people. The first step is always going to be to stretch out and see what comes your way.

Being around people more often is a good first step. Not everyone is comfortable with being openly sociable, and it can be hard to adjust to that sort of behavior. Take it one step at a time and consider things you might be comfortable with, such as going to new sober meetings, talking to someone at the gym or during a fitness class, or finding people in local sober hangout spots.

 

Take All Opportunities

Don’t set yourself up with certain expectations. You may have to start entry-level or opt for a job you hadn’t considered at first. As long as it isn’t something you feel you wouldn’t be able to do mentally or physically, be open to new experiences and try things out. Many positions have training periods that give you a chance to back out of a job if you feel it isn’t a good fit for you, and you may be surprised to find how much you might like a position if you give it an honest try.

 

Keep Mum About Recovery

It’s not wise to openly advertise that you’re in recovery, and unless your past as an addict includes any criminal history, you are not strictly obligated to inform an employer that you used to have a drug habit. If the interview questions do eventually tread on that ground, perhaps due to a conspicuous gap in your resume, be sure to clarify that your experiences in recovery qualify as a positive rather than a liability, and that the challenges of early sobriety and the progress you’ve made since day one are a testament to your ability to face a challenge and proceed onwards.

 

Consider Volunteer Work

One way to impress potential employers is to spend some of your free time doing volunteer work. Not only does this show a considerable amount of initiative, but it may give further insight into your potential managerial or administrative abilities, as well as your willingness to lean into hard work and do what must be done to see a task through. Volunteer work also shows employees that you step forward and take action for things you believe in, and that you back up your words with hours invested in the things you love.

Whether it’s working at a soup kitchen, being a helping hand at a local shelter, or otherwise engaging with the community, volunteer work can be a great boon for any prospective job hunter, and it’s important to take every advantage you can get.

 

Maintaining Employment After Rehab

A job you like can be a great source of fulfillment and purpose in sobriety, while a job you hate can be a massive source of stress and more of a burden than anything else. While getting jobs is important, be sure to set your eyes on a line of work you enjoy. Otherwise, you’re not going to reap any of the non-financial benefits of employment while working on your own recovery.

The first key to maintaining employment after rehab is avoiding boredom. Whether it’s through your work or through other aspects in your life, constantly challenging yourself is important. Stagnation is what often paves the way to struggles with relapse, in cases where stress does not do so first.

The second key is to know what your employers want. If employers do find out about your recovery, they may be likely to worry about your reliability as an employee due to your past as an addict. It’s important to embrace the struggles of recovery and put them forward as an example of the hardships you’re ready to go through in order to change your life for the better. Remember that your bravery in facing these flaws head-on and doing the most to address them can be an immense plus, if you frame it as such.

It’s not going to be easy to find work, let alone work you truly enjoy, but don’t give up on yourself. The longer you look, the more likely you are to find what you need.

Keeping a Positive Mindset During Recovery

Approaching Sober Living With A Positive Mindset

It’s not enough to just be sober. Sobriety isn’t meant to be a sentence carried out to answer for your sins. If anything, it’s meant to be a reprieve from the effects of addiction. A joyous, prosperous journey, if you get the chance to make the most of it. But to see that side of sobriety, you need to approach it with a hopeful and positive mindset.

Many recovery centers and sober living communities work hard to instill this sense of positivity in their clients, with group meetings, one-on-one therapy sessions, and world-class care designed to prepare you for the challenges of long-term sobriety and make you hopeful for a better, drug-free future. But maintaining this sense of positivity in the long-term after recovery can be very challenging. Early recovery is mired with emotional instability, new challenges, overwhelming responsibility, and new experiences making you acutely aware of the stigma still present against drug use and addiction. How does one stay hopeful and positive in the face of what might feel like constant difficulty and discouragement?

 

Finding Your Anchor

Why did you decide to become sober to begin with? While many factors might inform an individual’s decision to seriously commit to recovery, there is usually a central motivation that overpowers the rest. Maybe it’s a sense of responsibility towards others in your life, the sense that you should be better for them. Maybe it’s the fear of losing your life, and losing any semblance of a meaningful legacy, in the midst of an addiction. Maybe it’s the commitment to be a better partner, a better parent, a better friend.

Whatever motivates you, you need reminders in your life to keep you on track, and to remember why it is that you made that monumental decision that fateful day to change your life. It might be an entry on your phone, a voicemail, a quote, a song, a video. Something that reminds you strongly of that one moment.

Having an anchor and something to tie you to it isn’t a guarantee of a positive mindset, let alone a guaranteed way to avoid potential relapses, but it can help sometimes tip a bad day over into a good day, or give you that boost of determination necessary to power through a moment of temptation, and make it to the next day, meeting, or therapy session.

 

Having Fun During Recovery

Recovery definitely shouldn’t be doom and gloom, and just because you’re sober doesn’t mean your life needs to be ruled by boredom. Find things to do. Figure out what you enjoy doing the most. Start by visiting workshops, signing up for online classes, and picking up hobbies you abandoned a long time ago. Practice with an instrument, try your hand at cooking, learn how to fix things and solder. Take up coding, start working on a personal blog, or do some amateur photography.

There are countless things to do and doing something you enjoy is the perfect way to make new friends in recovery. By going to group meetups and online forums, you get to make new acquaintances and create new friendships, and work on being a sociable person without the alcohol or the drugs.

 

Learning from Others

Group meetings are the ideal way to instill a sense of positivity and hope when tackling addiction. When faced with stigma and the overwhelming sense of self-doubt, the best way to pick yourself up again and motivate yourself for the future is by hearing about how someone else faced similar challenges and managed to overcome them. We are social creatures, and inspiration is an incredibly powerful tool. Support groups are ultimately about getting together, discussing the challenges of recovery and long-term sobriety, listening to solutions to common problems, and engaging in the open sharing of fears, worries, successes, and aspirations.

Make it a habit to continue visiting sober groups even long after you feel your early recovery process has concluded. It’s important to remind yourself of the early challenges you once faced and help talk about how you eventually overcame them. It’s also important to fight back against the stigma and remind yourself that you’re not alone, that your past as a drug user doesn’t make you a bad person, and that there is a hopeful and prosperous future for you and others like you.

 

It’s Not Only Your Burden

As important as personal responsibility is, we can’t forget the power and purpose of community. Between families and friends, there exists the innate need to help one another and seek out help. We survived as tribes, not as individuals, and it’s important not to forget that.

Your recovery often hinges on the help you can receive, whether through professionals and loved ones. And likewise, there will be many opportunities in your life to give back to those who helped you and continue to show your gratitude to the world by helping others. Not only is that a moral good, but it also helps make you feel better.

To maintain a positive mindset, practice gratitude for the good things in life and figure out ways to overcome the bad. Remind yourself of the times you were helped and remember that it’s okay to ask for help when you need it. And reap the rewards of giving back.

 

Positivity Is Hard Work

Ultimately, a positive mindset is not something gifted through a genetic lottery. It might be easier for some people to stay positive than it might be for others, but it’s still a state of mind that needs to be worked towards. That doesn’t mean you need to work at it alone. Whether it’s through the help of your friends and family, the loving companionship of a pet you love, the fulfilling qualities of your daily occupation, or the joy and bliss you feel when attaining a personal goal or breaking a personal record, a positive mindset is fueled by countless individual experiences of positivity.

And finally, it’s okay to rely on professional help to maintain a positive outlook. Whether you achieve yours through carefully-prescribed antidepressants, regular therapy sessions, or daily assisted meditation, there are countless ways to work towards your own positive, pragmatic outlook – but only you will know which work, and which are worthless to you.

What Should I Focus on While Living Sober?

What To Focus On While Living Sober

The challenge in sobriety is not only maintaining your abstinence from repeated substance use, but also finding a healthier and more effective outlet for your stress and frustrations. An addiction can often occur because of sudden and overwhelming change. Whether it’s trouble at school, at home, in the workplace, or in life in general, many are driven towards drugs out of desperation. When treating addiction, taking away that source of relief and release is a primary goal. And for many recovering addicts, those first few months spent completely clean can be the most challenging months they’ve ever had to endure. How do you deal with life’s challenges when your primary coping mechanism has been taken away, and it feels like nothing else compares?

That’s the focus of teaching people about sober living. To successfully overcome addiction, you must feel like you never need to indulge in drugs again, despite the cravings and despite the past. A good sober life is one that convinces you that sobriety is better than being addicted and indulging that addiction.

 

Surviving Early Recovery

Whether it’s spent in rehab or therapy, the first few weeks of recovery should focus on helping a person rehabilitate their body. Drug addiction takes its toll on a person’s organs and muscles, often coinciding with malnutrition and poor sleep hygiene. Helping someone detox, go through physical rehab, and get a few healthy meals into their system is important. Taking good care of your body immediately reflects on your mental state and can greatly diminish the overall effects of withdrawal and the emotional impact of early recovery.

After acclimating to the recovery environment, it’s time to tackle a person’s psychological problems. Even in the absence of an existing diagnosis or prior symptoms, long term drug use often leads to the development of depressive and anxious symptoms, often as a result of the long-term effects of drug abuse on the brain, as well as he accumulated stress that is often suppressed while addicted.

Every case of addiction is tackled individually through a multimodal approach, using what works to help an individual overcome their specific symptoms and circumstances.

It’s around this time that a therapist or psychiatrist might start working with a patient to not only identify that factors, events, and thoughts that led to addiction, but also help identify healthier coping mechanisms to manage stress and provide a physical and mental outlet. Sports, creative arts, and crafts are all common examples, and everyone has something else that seems to work best.

 

Finding a Focus

It’s not easy to discover your passion if you haven’t found it yet. Some addicts abandoned doing the things they loved due to their addiction. Recovering addicts may be encouraged to pick up old habits and hobbies, and step back into their old passions with a reinvigorated interest and new goals in mind. Others feel their passions led them to addiction to begin with and need something else to work through the challenges they will encounter in the future. When looking for a hobby, it’s important to start somewhere. Try out for local classes and meet up with interested groups, watch related videos, practice at home, and approach every potential interest with vigor.

It might be jogging, swimming, or contemporary dance. It might be cooking, wood working, or welding. It might be lifting, martial arts, or painting. It might be something you can make a living from. It might just be journaling in a diary to keep track of your thoughts and worries and manage them through prescribed written exercises.

Having a focal point during recovery is helpful for a number of reasons. For one, it’s healthier to track your progress through how well you’re doing at something you’ve discovered for yourself, rather than tracking your progress through days or weeks spent sober. Secondly, it provides a much-needed way to deal with the stress associated with early sobriety, including difficulties with social interaction, powerful cravings, the pressures of finding and maintaining employment, various social and financial responsibilities, and sobriety itself. Thirdly, habits build routines, schedules, and stability. It’s critical to have a sense of structure in your life during recovery. Lastly, sober living is as much about not doing drugs as it is about being happy enough to not care about them. The key to that level of contentment can only be found when you truly give your all towards a goal you’re heavily invested in.

 

Don’t Stop Looking

One hobby is good, but just as we’re creatures of habit, we’re also ultimately creatures prone to boredom. Routines are good, but we need to change things up to remain invested and interested. Even masters at their craft only ultimately stick to what they’re doing out of their own sense of curiosity as to how they might be able to stretch the limits of what’s possible, challenging themselves creatively to remain interested. So, continue challenging yourself, and seek out new and different ways to apply your physical, mental, and creative abilities. Or, draw inspiration from your various unique experiences as a way to continuously improve in your true passion and focus. Just keep looking.

 

More Than One Person

Any given case of drug addiction is ultimately about more than just one person. Behind every person is their friends and family, fellow people who were a part of their journey, who either enabled their habit, or tried their best to help, who were all affected in one way or another by the drug abuse, and who ultimately have a role to play in shaping that person’s recovery and long-term future. Recovery might be a journey you have to start, but it’s not one you walk alone. And learning to recognize the importance of asking for help from your loved ones is a big step in overcoming addiction and all its ills.

When times are tough, when cravings become overwhelming, and when you feel like there’s a good chance you’re standing over a very big abyss, don’t be afraid to call upon your loved ones. And in the best of moments, when everything is going well, and when you’re finally aware of how far you’ve come, don’t forget who helped you get there, and find your own way to express your gratitude to those who supported you.

 

5 Tips to Avoiding Situations with Drugs or Alcohol

Tips for Avoiding Drugs and Alcohol

The best cure is prevention, and that adage still rings true for relapses. Preventing a relapse is easier than overcoming one, and it’s especially important to prioritize preventing relapses in early recovery, when the urge to use again is at its strongest.

Drug addiction begins in the brain, and contrary to popular belief, drug dependence is a neurological disease rather than a simple matter of do-or-don’t. Adapting to the challenges of addiction recovery and living a sober life is no easy feat in the face of what is effectively a drastic set of changes in the brain itself. Because there is no medication that reverses the effects of addiction, our best bet in treatment is to help addicts stay sober long enough to give the mind and body time to heal and revert on its own.

However, it would be torturous to assume that anyone with an addiction would successfully recover if you simply stick them in a cell for a year. Because of the progressive nature of addiction, drug recovery has to be an ongoing and evolving process, one of growth and progress, one where an individual confronts the challenges that face them and moves past them. But there are some things a recovering addict shouldn’t have to face. Many situations are often too tempting to withstand in the early days of recovery and should be avoided. Here, we discuss a variety of ways to continue living a fulfilling social life without falling into the temptation of drinking or using again.

 

Hang Out with Different Friends

Addiction treatment is a time for drastic changes, and one of them must be a thorough and ruthless look at your current friends list. Friends are some of the most important people in our lives, and the power of being in a group and making decisions together is often misunderstood and underestimated. Some of us don’t quite grasp or refuse to acknowledge how much sway those we care about have over us, insofar that we tend to make decisions others have made if we feel a bond with them.

This can be to a person’s detriment, as the urge to fit in and/or conform has driven many people to start using drugs they never had an interest in to begin with.

For recovering addicts, these friends are pure poison. Friendships built on mutual substance use and other behavior associated with drug use or heavy drinking should be avoided, unless your friends make a marked and clear effort to curb or even completely stop using drugs around you, as a way to support your recovery and help you stay sober.

 

Prepare Canned Excuses

You have to be ready to respond to any invitation to use, smoke, or drink. It has to be quick, something quick enough that you don’t get the luxury of really stopping to think about it. There are a variety of excuses you could use, if you don’t feel comfortable about explicitly speaking on the topic of your sobriety, or if you are worried that mentioning your sobriety will cause others to begin querying you or offering you other things to do.

Consider simple responses such as “that stuff makes me sick, I’m sorry” or “no, I get a bad reaction to that.” Alternatively, say something like “I really just don’t like the way it tastes/smells/feels” or “it’s just not my thing, sorry.” The faster the response, the better. Most people don’t want to get confrontational, and they’re likely to back off quite quickly if it becomes clear that giving you something to drink, smoke, or use, is going to net a pretty bad outcome and ruin the party.

Even better, however, is to simply be honest and upfront about your sobriety and, most importantly, not even show up to the party in the first place. While it might be difficult to decline an invitation to a Christmas dinner or something equally as important, consider the risks of hanging around your family with copious amounts of cozy booze, and more than one potential conversation capable of driving you to the bottle. If possible, discuss throwing alcohol and drug-free parties with friends and family.

 

Try Out New Hobbies

When tackling the first few months of recovery, it’s really important to stay busy. Don’t give yourself the opportunity to be in places or situations where you’re offered something to drink or use to begin with by filling as much of your free time as possible with activities where drugs really don’t play any role in the equation, from outdoor activities like hiking and swimming to ball games and other sports, a trip to a local tourist destination, a stop by an art gallery or museum, and more.

Visit cooking classes, try your hand at a new skill, learn a new language, try programming, play around with photo editing, or just try things out until you find something new that absolutely clicks with you.

 

Stay Away from Old Memories

Our sense of memory is incredible, but it serves to make things harder for us after addiction. The brain’s cravings seem to become stronger when reminiscing over old memories, and anything that might evoke them could trigger a state of frustration and anger, and serious temptation. As such, it’s important to stay away from potential triggers early on in recovery.

Take a different route to work, try and spend more time living in a sober living home rather than your old place, stay away from old friends and make new ones, shop in different locations, spend more time in other places around town, and more.

 

Take Care of Your Mental Health

Especially in the earlier stages of addiction, overwhelming stress and emotional struggles tend to bring out the urge to use or drink again in recovering addicts. Because many addicts spend months or years struggling with an addiction, they find themselves innately wired to utilize their drugs of choice as a coping mechanism to deal with all of life’s pain. And because early recovery is filled with an abundance of difficult and frustrating moments, compounded with a brain that is desperately seeking a fix, the urge to use will be stronger than ever.

Minimizing stress is key to surviving the first year of full sobriety without a relapse. And to do so, you need to regularly maintain and manage your mental health. This is true for many addicts, not only within the months during and following their recovery program, but in the years that come after as well. Therapy and group meetings should be a staple in a recovering addict’s life, not for weeks, but for years. It is through the help of friends and family as well the guidance and treatment of trained professionals that every recovering addict can have a chance to not only maintain their sobriety, but progress in the fight against various potential mental health issues that often plague those who struggle with drug use.

It’s Okay to Focus on You During Recovery

It's okay to focus on yourself during recovery

Recovery should, first and foremost, be a time for change. When recovering from a drug addiction, the goal of the recovery process is to do more than just stop someone from using drugs. It is to help people rehabilitate mentally and physically to the point where they can continue living a fulfilling and meaningful life without the need for drugs.

More than just physically addictive, drug use also creates an emotional bond between the user and the drug. Many addicts rely on drugs to heal emotional wounds, cope with serious pain, and ignore the realities of their addictive behavior. Cutting away from that takes more than just time – it takes a serious approach towards mental health and a healthier lifestyle, and the incentive to stop using. More than a commitment to sobriety, addiction recovery is about making it easier to be sober. And that means living a life truly worth living.

 

The Importance of Self Love in Recovery

To understand why it’s okay (and even necessary) to focus on yourself during drug recovery, we need to dig into the role that self-love plays in recovery and how coming to terms with yourself is a necessary step when trying to beat an addiction. However, self-love is sadly often misunderstood. Self-love has nothing to do with narcissism. Rather than picturing a guy staring lovingly into a mirror, think about the level of self-confidence needed to successfully assert yourself in life. Think about how any positive change requires the belief that said change is possible to begin with.

Self-love is just believing in yourself, having the self-esteem to recognize your strengths, and recognizing the importance of fulfilling your own basic needs for wellbeing and happiness. Self-love isn’t putting yourself first at the expense of others, but it’s thinking about yourself in a capacity that is healthy and fosters a healthy outlook.

Self-love might be taking the time every weekend to make yourself a relaxing bath or making the time to exercise no matter how hard it seems to be to fit it into your schedule. Self-love is realizing that if you don’t work for your own happiness, you’re going to be the creator of your own misery. Self-love is knowing that you deserve to enjoy sober living, and that going sober isn’t a punishment for your mistakes, but the only way forward after a long time spent addicted to drugs.

More concretely put, self-love plays a significant role in recovery because to take staying sober earnestly, you need to approach it from a perspective of self-interest rather than a perspective of guilt. If sobriety is a punishment, it can never last.

 

Put Your Recovery First

Once you have come to terms with a point of view that allows you to see your sobriety as a healthy and effective path forward towards a better life, the next challenge will be to juggle your everyday responsibilities as an adult with your responsibility to recovery. Putting recovery first when you potentially have to work to put food on the table, keep a roof over your head, and even provide for others, can be very difficult.

The key is to ask for help. We all need to learn to be compassionate and help those we love, just as much as we need to learn to ask for and accept help when we need it. If you are having trouble keeping up with your commitments to recovery, including visits to the therapist and weekly meetings, then consider enlisting the help of friends and family to keep you afloat in the first few months of recovery. It’s a long process and coming to terms with your new life takes time spent readjusting and responding to unique challenges and difficulties. There may even be stumbling along the way, including moments of temptation and relapse. Understand that while it’s your journey, you don’t have to be in this alone.

 

Recovery and Partnerships

There’s a fine line between struggling to maintain a healthy partnership because you’re still adjusting to recovery and struggling to maintain a healthy partnership while using recovery as an excuse. If you are married or have a long-term partner, the addiction can take a serious toll on the two of you. Deciding to go sober and working on said sobriety can go a long way to help the healing process, but patience is needed from both parties. If your partner was an enabler all along or continues to use drugs while you are going through the effort of quitting, it’s important to seriously consider leaving for your own good.

Otherwise, focusing on your own recovery in the early days is not selfish, but necessary. Do not derail your recovery to serve your partner’s whims. Part of being in a respecting and loving relationship means looking out for each other’s interests. Of course, there’s a significant difference between focusing on figuring things out in early sobriety and completely neglecting your partner. Consider intertwining the two by working on your recovery together, going to meetings together or engaging in new hobbies and activities as a pair.

 

Recovery and Dating

It’s a rule that is sometimes spoken and sometimes unspoken, but early recovery is not a good time for dating. It’s very difficult to maintain or nurture a relationship if you aren’t yet capable of self-love, and many addicts struggle with mood swings and other temperamental issues early on in their road of recovery.

Until you feel like you are at peace with your past and confident in your sober life, consider putting your love life on hold and pouring that energy towards improving yourself.

 

Recovery as An Opportunity for Self-Improvement

It cannot be stressed enough that going sober after a time spent addicted is not a form of punishment. Sobriety is not a journey through hell, and there is no need to atone for anything. Addiction treatment is not a moral journey, but a physical and psychological treatment of the scars left behind by drug overuse. Dealing with the guilt and shame of addiction in recovery is crucial to truly overcoming the experience.

See recovery as an opportunity for self-improvement, in that sense. This is your chance to work on yourself and be the person you want to be, by tackling your addiction head-on and making true changes.

Saying No to Drugs/Alcohol: The Daily Struggle

Saying No to Drugs and Alcohol

Staying clean at a rehab facility or a sober living home is difficult, but nothing compared to the struggle of continuing a sober life while still fighting the urge to use again in an environment without the same level of control that you might have come to expect in recovery clinics. The daily struggle to stay clean is a part of recovery – and yes, it does get easier.

While most people relapse in the first year after recovery, only a fraction (15 percent) relapse after five years. And over time, that number continues to drop. The idea that it becomes easier over time to stay sober is data-driven – but that doesn’t change that early on, it’s exceptionally hard. Knowing how to stay sober is key – but what exactly does that entail?

 

A Support Network Is Important

You’re not in this alone – nor should you ever be. Beating an addiction isn’t about willpower, it’s about consistency. You need to stay sober day in and day out but doing that on your own isn’t just a tall ask, it’s unrealistic.

That’s where a support network becomes important. A support network is a collection of people you can rely on to help you when you really need them. They’re your friends, your family, and the professional help that has helped you get this far. Ideally, you’ll want to be a part of at least a few support networks as well – just as those we love help us, we should all aim to help those we love.

Do not rely on one person to keep you clean while you’re going through recovery – supporting someone going through addiction treatment is much more than a one-man job. Anything can count as help – from giving you a ride to and from your daily meetings, to having a place for you to stay when your current home is too much to handle with constant memories and triggers related to your days as an addict.

The hardest part about having a support network for many addicts who learned to stay independent is the idea of depending on others. We all need to do away with the notion that we’re independent people. An independent existence is lonely beyond belief, and often more selfish than anything else. Few people lead truly independent lives.

We’re always part of a system, always part of a greater whole – from our families, to our communities, to our nations. We’ve all grown up in a world forged by countless lives, many of whom were given in the name of helping others lead better ones. Many people wake up every day to serve others, whether as a waiter or a doctor or a firefighter. To depend on others isn’t to give up all autonomy in your own life, but to accept that sometimes, we need assistance to get us through hard times, so we can be our best selves for those we care about the most, and society in general.

 

When It Becomes Too Much

Some days are really good, and some days are really bad. It’s important to celebrate good days, but it’s just as important (if not more so) to have a plan for the bad days. Whether your plan is to call a friend or a sponsor or your therapist, having a number to call or a place to go to matters.

Preventing relapses is more important than overcoming them and having a plan in place that you can simply execute without having to think a great deal about it matters. Be sure to discuss your plan with your loved one, sponsor, or therapist – talk to them about what you should do on your bad days and how you should contact them.

 

Sometimes, It’s Okay to Relapse

It’s important to remember that a relapse doesn’t mean your recovery has failed. While it’s a misstep, relapses are also an opportunity to better understand your triggers, reflect on what went wrong, and work with a professional to find ways to avoid similar issues in the future. Even if the reason for your relapse is, on the surface, as simple as struggling to maintain sobriety over a long period of time, there are always deeper factors to consider. Recovery programs aren’t meant to provide you with the motivation needed to stay sober for decades. Sobriety, like any relationship, is something you need to work on over time.

It’s likely that you’re going to relapse, more than once even. While you shouldn’t treat it as an inevitability, it’s important to reframe how you might feel about a relapse. It’s going to feel terrible, that’s for sure – but by prioritizing a positive takeaway over a constant feeling of shame and self-doubt, you can turn a setback into the best step forward you could’ve made.

There are many ways to work on your sobriety, but the most important one is to make sure you always have something to achieve, a goal to reach, or a purpose to fulfill. Don’t let your life stagnate. Instead of going back to rehab and then heading back into your ‘normal life’ try adapting new lifestyle changes and maintain your road to recovery by going to weekly meetings, scheduling regular visits with a therapist, and helping others in early recovery learn through your experiences to improve in their own journey and manage their goals of long-term sobriety.

 

Remember Why You Started Recovery

Whatever it might be that finally convinced you that it’s time to stop, you need to hold onto that and reflect on it from time to time. We live in a day and age where it’s easy for the days to blend together and fly past us – but reflection is crucial for a healthy state of mind.

Keep a journal, write a blog, take pictures, or just log your emotional progress in a notepad. Whatever you do, keep track of your progress and take the time now and again (or on a specific date) to look back on where you were, and where you are. It’s easy to feel stuck despite the endless goal-chasing, and goal-chasing often doesn’t make us any happier – it just keeps us busy and focused. Take the time to think on why you decided to get sober, and understand that even if the time since going sober hasn’t felt like you might’ve expected it to, there might have been more change in your life than you realized.

Coming to Terms with What A Sober Life Entails

Accepting Realities of Sober Life

A person is sober when the effects of alcohol and other drugs have worn off. Most addicts spend a lot of time sober, although they might not prefer to. But unlike the state of sobriety, a sober life doesn’t come on its own.

Many addicts struggle with the idea of recovery because it would mean going back to a state of living that, to them, might just not be worth it. Not only does addiction rob you of the ability to choose to stop using drugs, but an addiction can leave you hopeless and apathetic to the idea of a better life. And when that life entails letting go of the one thing that helped you cope with problems better than everything else, genuinely seeing the ‘upside’ can be very difficult.

To recover from addiction, you have to want to recover. You need an incentive to go sober. Something that genuinely makes you feel like staying clean is worth it. For some people, that incentive is their legacy – they’re motivated to be a better person so their lasting memory in the eyes of others was that of someone who did their best. For others, it’s to do better for their children and their family – to get clean for their sake. However, to get clean, you have to come to terms with the pros and cons of what it’ll mean to stay clean.

 

What Does Sobriety Mean to You?

In this sense, sobriety refers to a long-term state of sobriety in the face of a past addiction. It’s not easy to stop using drugs after you’ve been through physical dependency, because even on a small level, both the body and the mind distinctly remember what it was like to be addicted, and it isn’t uncommon to continue to crave a relapse when you’re under stress, even years after going clean.

Maintaining sobriety in the state of continued potential cravings means having a good reason not to want to return to a past of addiction. Because the brain is wired to seek out and repeat behavior that feels rewarding, you need ways to keep yourself interested and entertained without relying on drugs. Drugs can help you cope with issues, but they also just generally feel great – for a short time, at least. Beating that high means finding a passion of your own. It could be your career, or it could be a sport, or it could be a creative and artistic outlet. Explore your abilities and find out what it is that really drives you.

Purpose matters as well. We all need a few things we can identify ourselves with – things through which we can realize our own value and determine how much our life meant to those around us, and what kind of an impact we had throughout our time alive. Living for the sake of living isn’t much of a life at all and living all for yourself gets very boring and hollow very quickly. Whether you live for family, for country, or for an altogether different aim, it’s important to do something you genuinely believe is worth doing. It might be grassroots politics and volunteer work, or helping animals, or becoming the best in your city or region at a certain skill or raising your child to be the best version of themselves.

 

It Doesn’t Have to Be Boring

A lot of people fear that going sober would not only tear away from them the one thing they’ve been using to deal with the pain they feel, but it would leave life feeling empty without anything that’s really ‘fun’. But the truth is that addiction makes life incredibly dull, reducing a person’s life to little more than a cycle of desperation.

Recovery will help a person realize how beautiful life can be, and that despite its hardships, there are countless ways to live life to the fullest. Life after recovery doesn’t have to be boring.

 

Staying on Track (for Years)

One of the greatest pitfalls in recovery is the belief that staying clean after an addiction is about willpower – the thought that you have to rely solely on yourself and your own commitment to a better self to stay sober. However, that’s impossible. Not only will multiple relapses deter you over time from believing in the process, but they will also deter you from believing in your own potential. You need people around you to help out when you’re at your lowest point, to convince you to stay clean, to support you when you struggle, and encourage you to seek out recovery when you’ve slipped and relapsed.

The key to staying on track isn’t just determination – it’s having a good support network. Regularly visit and stay in touch with a professional therapist, meet up with a group of local recovering addicts or stay in touch through the internet, meet up with sober friends and make plans to stay in touch, and talk to your family about your progress in recovery and don’t be afraid to call them when you really need someone around to keep you on the straight and narrow.

 

Finding Alternative Ways to Cope

There’s no question – drugs are the fastest and arguably the strongest coping mechanism for any kind of pain. But they don’t last long, and they have serious negative side effects, including making the pain worse. An addiction is sometimes the result of a ‘maladaptive coping mechanism’, or a form of coping with pain and suffering that leaves a person ill-equipped to deal with the cause or source of the pain.

This is why early recovery is one of the hardest parts of staying sober. On top of the physical hardships of withdrawal, many people struggle emotionally after going clean because their lives have dramatically changed for the worse since getting addicted, and without the drugs to numb the pain, the only choice they have is to face it.

Recovery and long-term therapeutic treatment can help an individual deal with the aftermath of their addiction. But we all need coping mechanisms. Whether as a way to prevent stress from building up too much or as a way to blow off steam after something particularly difficult, we need ways to cope with what life might throw at us. After an addiction, turning to anything else can be difficult. But with professional help and the support of family and friends, you can find a healthier way to deal with life’s challenges.

Celebrating Recovery Milestones

Celebrating Recovery Milestones

When recovery is seen as this long, monolithic and largely daunting section of your life that you must ‘overcome’ and ‘struggle through’, you’re likely putting yourself in a harder spot than you should. Daunting tasks should be broken up into smaller and simpler steps – and the same goes for recovery.

By celebrating recovery milestones and keeping track of your recovery on the basis of individual steps rather than a single long journey, you give yourself moments to pause and reflect, moments to look forward to, goals to celebrate and goals to strive for. By celebrating each recovery milestone, you’re effectively solidifying each step in your journey, fortifying your recovery and your sobriety and safeguarding against boredom, loss of interest in the process, and loss of faith in the idea of recovery as a way to live a happy life.

Here are a few simple recovery milestones to keep track of how you’re doing, but remember that your journey is your own, and what you define as a goal or milestone does not have to conform to what you might find on a list or someone’s own journey. This roadmap is more a general idea of what recovery could look like, but your very own journey and challenges will likely not be completely reflected in this post.

Tracking your recovery is easiest through a notebook or through your phone, or by marking special dates on your calendar.

 

When Withdrawal Finally Ends

The withdrawal period is a timeframe of certain symptoms that the body usually undergoes after quitting an addiction. Physical dependence numbs the body to certain changes and certain forms of damage, effectively allowing you to continue taking drugs without truly feeling what your body is going through.

On the other hand, the brain also begins to normalize the regular use of a certain drug, causing a cacophony of severe emotional and physical symptoms once you cease usage. In both cases, withdrawal symptoms kick in relatively soon after the last high and can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Drugs that stay in the system for longer and take longer for the body to metabolize may produce withdrawal symptoms for a longer period of time, and certain drugs – depressants such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, tranquilizers and sedatives – can even cause extreme withdrawal symptoms requiring medical help.

Because of these issues and more, overcoming withdrawal symptoms is an incredibly important milestone in any journey of addiction recovery. Most recovering addicts go through the withdrawal process more than once, and it’s both daunting and meaningful each time. To start recovery, you have to first cut yourself off from the physical effects of a drug. Even in a drug-free environment like a sober living home or rehab, this isn’t an easy task.

 

Getting Started in Therapy

Recovery programs, one-on-one therapy, group therapy, group sessions, or even a form of alternative therapy – there are many ways to heal from an addiction, and the treatment you may receive will depend highly on what you feel works best for you, and how you respond to different treatments.

Getting started is important – only a fraction of people diagnosed with a substance use disorder go through with treatment, and many don’t finish. While progress might not happen instantaneously and while there is no way to magically cure an addiction, modern-day addiction treatment does work, and it can help you tremendously.

 

Enjoying Your New Hobbies

After an addiction, it can be tremendously difficult to get back into other hobbies. Some people take to a specific thing to help them cope, but many others struggle to find anything as effective as a drug. While drugs can supply a person with a powerful high, their effects are ultimately ephemeral. But there are many ways to continue to have fun and enjoy yourself long after you’ve stopped using drugs. It’s all about finding the right hobbies.

It can take some time but finding something you genuinely start enjoying should be celebrated. More than just another stepping stone, finding things you can do to reduce and deal with stress can make a serious difference in your recovery journey for years to come.

 

Going A Period of Time Without a Mental Break

Addiction and mental health issues often go hand-in-hand, and while it’s still a minority, many people struggle with mental health issues in recovery, especially depression and/or anxiety.

These issues tend to flare up in early recovery as the mind goes through an emotional roller coaster as a result of quitting an addiction. Progress towards relieving symptoms of anxiety or depression goes hand-in-hand with addiction, as both should be treated concurrently. However, that doesn’t mean it’s comparable to dealing with an addiction without the additional mental health issues.

Feeling ‘normal’ long enough to sense real change in your life needs to be celebrated and reflected upon. Be sure to keep in mind how much progress you’ve made after going sober, even if it doesn’t feel like much progress is being made on a day-to-day basis.

 

First Day Back at Work

To most people, getting back to work might not sound like a cause to celebrate, but most careers are halted in the face of a serious addiction. Finding a job and holding employment for any significant period of time is a serious feat in recovery.

This is probably one of the largest milestones, as it often takes a considerable amount of effort to reach a point in your recovery journey where you’re finally ready to take on the combined responsibilities of maintaining recovery, and providing for yourself (and others, potentially). Taking responsibility of your life is a step that further gives you greater control and accountability over your own life, bringing you further away from addiction than ever.

 

The Road Keeps Going

Addiction recovery is a lifelong process – one that never just ‘ends’. And that’s a good thing. It’s not about reaching some ultimate goal, it’s about living life in pursuit of one goal after the other, taking breaks here and there to reflect and be content with what you’ve done, who you are, and what you’ve still got left to do. Recovery never has to be boring, punishing, or futile.

Building New Friendships After Sobriety

Making Friends After Sobriety

It’s easier for some people to make friends than for others. But one thing is for sure: kids make friends more easily than adults do. Regardless of individual factors such as awkwardness, self-esteem and anxiety, the primary obstacle in every adult’s quest for friends is time. If you’re an adult with any form of responsibility, chances are you have a schedule – and for many, that schedule can be very demanding, with little time left over to spend on friends and making new acquaintances.

Yet as hard as it might seem to juggle your living responsibilities, recovery work, and goals for the future, it’s important to make room for new friendships when coming out of rehab. Going through the recovery process can often incur the loss of a few old relationships, especially those built on a foundation of drug abuse. With that comes the need to make new friends, because being lonely isn’t an option either. But where do you start?

 

You Don’t Need Booze to Find Friends

A lot of former alcoholics and drug addicts might look towards clubs, bars, and a host of other local party venues as ways to meet interesting and exciting people. But that’s obviously no longer an issue. That doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to making boring friends. Sober people spend a fraction of their time at clubs and bars and spend the rest of their time doing other things, like work, exercise, walking the dog, and going for a weekend hike.

Remember when you were in school and made friends through mutual interests and group activities? The rules of engaging strangers and striking up conversations don’t really change much from your teens to your adult years, aside from (hopefully) a reduced amount of awkwardness. Find people your age, in your area, with interests that generally line up with your own. There are a few ways to go about this.

 

Look Up Local Meetups

The internet is a modern miracle, and it has completely changed the world – for the better and for the worse. One of the ways in which it has improved life for many is the capability to instantly communicate with thousands of strangers in all corners of the world. And, in the same vein, you can communicate with a dozen strangers who all live within a few miles of your home. The internet makes it easier for us to display our interests and talk about our hobbies and connect with others whom we might never have met in a pre-internet world.

Step one: figure out what you like to do with your free time, now that you have so much more of it in sobriety. Step two: check to see if there are others in your city who like to talk about that, and maybe even go to regular meetups. Step three: if there are no meetups for what you guys are discussing, schedule one yourself. You might not have a lot of attendees the first few times, but that’s fine.

 

Find Friends Through Facebook

It’s true that Facebook and other social networks have been blamed for a number of interpersonal issues, including communication problems and self-esteem issues, but it’s not all bad. The original intent for social media was to take the communicative capabilities of the internet to the next level, to go from anonymous forum handles to a complex network of real people (and a few fake ones) communicating and using social media as a supplementary tool to real-life interaction.

If you leave it at that – Facebook as a supplement, not a replacement – then it can be a great tool to help you meet and interact with people in your vicinity. The key to not being creepy is to approach people through groups and mutual friendships, rather than individually.

 

Make Friendships at the Gym

Exercise is healthy, and so is making new friendships. While newcomers might see the gym as an intimidating place where meatheads go to train in silence, this is often pretty far from the truth. People generally enjoy training in the company of others, and the gym is a great place to seek emotional as well as physical encouragement, as many people working on their own progress enjoy helping others and seeing them put in the work as well.

You don’t have to hit the weight room or the cardio machines if you don’t want to. Plenty of gyms offer classes for anything ranging from boxing and Muay Thai to yoga and dancing, and there are many other ways to get active and get moving. Just be sure to introduce yourself, strike up a conversation or two, and you might be surprised at how many people you can meet.

 

Don’t Worry

Addiction is often intertwined with anxiety. Even when a recovering addict isn’t diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, anxious thoughts and worries are common – especially during early recovery, when you’re not quite sure of yourself and your thought process often dips down into negative territory. But don’t worry, and don’t prejudge – being afraid of strangers is the biggest obstacle to interesting conversations and new friendships.

Work on challenging yourself to open up to talking to new people. Try and talk to someone in the line to the checkout counter (when it’s a particularly long line) or, if you have a dog, make friends with other dog walkers at the park. There are countless opportunities for new friendships out there if you’re willing to take a chance.

 

Regarding Old Friendships

There will come a time when you’re working through some of your problems in therapy or are returning to your ‘regular life’ after rehab and have to confront the possibility of giving up on old friendships. Some connections cannot be feasibly supported after going sober, either because they were built on an addiction to begin with, or because they can’t be sustained without a heavy risk of relapse.

While it might feel unfair or painful to give old friends an ultimatum regarding drug use and friendship – such as telling your friends you can’t tolerate heavy drinking or drug use around you while going through recovery – you have to draw clear boundaries and firmly defend them. If you know watching others drink or do drugs is going to get you to a dangerous place mentally, then you have to cut that out of your life. And if your friends don’t want to consider making changes to continue your friendship, it’s unlikely that they ever had your best interests in mind to begin with.

Friendships built on the respect and bond between two individuals are stronger than friendships built on shared drug experiences. While it might feel weird at first to try and make new friends as an adult, you’ll find that it’s those friendships that tend to last the longest and make the strongest impression in the long-term, simply because you both have a much better idea of who you are and what you’re interested in than you might have had in your teens or college years.