Is a Sober Living Community Necessary?

Is A Sober Living Community Necessary

A sober living community often helps people become more comfortable with their sobriety without the threat of relapse. Because these communities have no real limit on how long a tenant can stay – so long as they respect the rules – it doesn’t matter how long it takes someone to get set up.

But does that mean sober living is necessary for long-term sobriety? That depends. The numbers show that some people get addicted, and subsequently overcome that addiction without rehab. Others who overcome addiction do so after treatment. Some feel trapped in their addiction, unable to stop relapsing.

Sober living homes and communities exist to give anyone who needs it the space to work on their sobriety without fear of relapse – and for some, that is absolutely necessary for lasting sobriety.

 

Sometimes It Is

Sober living communities exist as an alternative to inpatient and outpatient treatment, for people looking for something that better suits their needs by offering greater flexibility while maintaining a strict ruleset, and guaranteed access to other tenants with experience in struggling with addiction.

Through social events, on-site therapy, and a myriad of shared activities, sober living homes aim to help tenants come together and talk about joint experiences and unique perspectives alike.

There’s more to recovery than just talk, but a supportive environment can go a long way. Sober living homes also aim to prepare recovering addicts for the challenges that lay ahead, mandating steady employment or a job search, dividing chores and responsibilities among tenants, and working with them to help find ways to combat stress without turning to old habits.

 

Treatment is More Than Necessity

You need more than the bare minimum to get you through an addiction. Because addiction is often chronic and can change the way the brain responds to rational thoughts and ‘normal’ stimuli, treatment necessitates a long and extended break from drug use and a lifestyle that prioritizes healthier coping mechanisms and frequent introspection.

It’s difficult to implement these changes without the help of supportive loved ones who can keep you from your old habits, and experienced professionals who can help guide you towards a new way of thinking.

Simply quitting is not always an option, and while some do successfully walk away from their drug use, most fall back into it and begin a vicious cycle, fueled by the fear that they’ll never truly overcome their mistakes.

There’s more to drug treatment than doing just the bare minimum. Like other illnesses, it’s important to get a comprehensive and quality treatment. Sober living communities can be a part of that.

 

The Challenges of Tackling Addiction Alone

With others, you have a shoulder to lean on, an ear to speak into, eyes to meet your own. With others, you can create a support network to catch you when you fall. Safety and security are important in recovery, because nothing is guaranteed – least of all a swift recovery.

Alone, however, everything becomes exponentially harder. It’s good to be self-sufficient, but we’re ultimately social animals and rely on each other to thrive.

Instead of feeling worried about accepting the help of those around you, consider how you might repay them in the future through acts of gratitude, once you feel better.

 

Sober Living Communities and Long-Term Sobriety 

Sober living communities excel at helping recovering addicts form the necessary toolkit to achieve long-term sobriety, by creating an environment conducive to recovery while prioritizing the development of better coping skills and stress management.

Life is filled with challenges, and an addiction can leave someone defenseless to many of life’s greatest stressors. It takes time for a person to heal and develop the right defenses for combatting life’s challenges without the risk of relapse. Some of the ways sober living communities help recovering addicts develop their skills is through in-house amenities and an emphasis on embracing new hobbies and trying out new activities.

Through forging new friendships, mending broken relationships, and discovering new reasons to live, recovering addicts can fill in the blanks in their new sober life and continuously grow the list of reasons to keep staying clean.

Sober living communities are also excellent places to turn to after a relapse. When a recovering addict feels the need to refresh their recovery and spend a few days in a safe place away from temptation, sober living homes become a great option. Rather than focusing on first-timers or set programs, their flexibility makes them a viable part of the recovery process at any stage or level.

 

Progress at Your Own Pace

There is no set timeline for recovery. Some place special importance on certain milestones, such as six-month sobriety, one-year sobriety, or the end of a mandatory rehab sentence. But given how unique every person’s journey is, these dates are virtually meaningless.

It’s important to understand that you’re going to progress at your own pace, which may be faster than others, or slower than others – and that that is fine. It’s also important to set milestones for yourself that are based on achievements rather than a test of endurance, such as:

  • Your first date
  • Your first new job
  • Your first breakthrough at therapy
  • Your first week without withdrawal symptoms
  • Your first week feeling physically good
  • Your first personal goal achieved
  • And so on.

Sober living homes exemplify the importance of making progress at your own pace by cutting out the need for programs or recovery timelines. One thing many lack in recovery is patience and understanding, not for others, but for themselves. It’s easy to be hard on yourself and feel terrible about the things you’ve done and the pace you’re progressing at, but these feelings only tend to feed the urge to get back to old habits, restarting the cycle.

As hard as it is, you have to find ways to forgive yourself for your mistakes, take pride in the things you’ve already accomplished, and always move forward with your eyes on the next milestone, rather than dwelling on the pain you’ve caused yourself before.

A sober living community isn’t necessary for a healthy or fulfilling recovery process. But it sure makes things a lot easier. Whether or not it may be necessary for you is something only you can decide.

 

Don’t Let Peer Pressure Impact Your Sobriety

Don't Let Peer Preassure Impact Your Sobriety

Humans are social animals, for better and for worse. While we’d like to think that our behavior is largely dictated by our own wants and desires, the truth is often much more complex, and far less in favor of self-determinism – much of what we do is pre-programmed, especially when it involves groups.

Whenever we’re with friends, we’re much more likely to fall prey to ‘groupthink’, and that reflects not only on our thoughts, but on our actions and behavior as well.

However, all that isn’t set in stone. By being aware of how others can influence our actions, we can take charge and avoid the common trap of peer pressure.

There’s a reason it’s heavily recommended to surround yourself with other sober people when investing in sobriety. We’re more likely to stick to our ideals and principles when we’re not alone in defending them and being part of a group of sober people struggling to stay clean and work through recovery allows us to take solace in the fact that we’re not fighting against addiction alone.

But when we’re surrounded by drinking, staying sober can be a serious challenge. Nevertheless, there are ways to overcome peer pressure and remain true to your principles.

 

Why is Peer Pressure so Effective?

Peer pressure affects individuals at all ages. Kids and teens are most at risk of falling prey to peer pressure, as we will examine later, but even adults can find themselves unwittingly doing or thinking things they might not have done or thought alone or in a different group.

To understand peer pressure, reformulate it first as influence. Individuals can influence other individuals, just as groups influence groups. Influence is inescapable, and it rears its head in our fashion choices, music tastes, beauty standards, and even our partner choices.

Whether knowingly or unknowingly, the opinions of others hold sway over our own thoughts and choices.

And this begins in the earliest years of social behavior, when children first begin to interact with one another and define what is alright and not alright. A simple example would be how peer pressure can affect a child’s self-esteem and appearance.

An outfit a child might have picked themselves would never be picked again due to experiences with bullying and ridicule. This has long-term ramifications, affecting how the child dresses and views themselves.

In adults, the pressure to conform in certain ways might express itself in brand choices, the choice to lose weight, avoid certain speech patterns, or otherwise make changes in order to avoid ridicule or to avoid being conspicuous.

As an antidote to that, it’s only an individual’s own confidence levels that determine how far they are able to resist peer pressure and remain confident in the validity of their own thoughts and choices.

In addiction, peer pressure and influence is extremely potent because it’s so easy to erode confidence in one’s own sobriety. This is because the nature of addiction itself makes it difficult to stay clean.

For the first few months, your own brain continues to crave a drink, and it feels as though you have to continuously wrestle with your own thoughts to remain sober. Add onto that the feeling that refusing to drink causes you to go heavily against the grain and draw criticism, and it becomes very difficult to say no under certain circumstances.

 

Teens Have a Harder Time with Peer Pressure

While peer pressure affects adults as well, it’s far more pronounced in teens. Teens generally lack the self-confidence that comes with adulthood, and they lack self-determination on account of not quite being sure who they are. Teens define themselves not on account of their own choices and individual characteristics, but on account of how others see them, and where they happen to fit in.

As such, many teens are desperate to fit in in any way possible, even if it means doing something questionable for the respect and approval of others. The pursuit of status is far stronger in teens than other age groups – and that’s embedded in the teen brain itself.

This is because while adults are inhibited by a fully-developed brain with the ability to easily recognize and calculate risk – as well as a treasure trove of negative experiences from which to draw a reasonable expectation of consequence – teens are more likely to do something without really thinking about how it might affect them in the long-term.

In other words, teens not only ignore risk, but often don’t even recognize that it exists in the heat of the moment – especially if the reward (status) is very appealing. That is why experimenting with drugs is more common among teens than adults – they’re less likely to worry about drug tests at work, drug use reflecting poorly on their record, getting caught with illicit drugs, or incurring the wrath of their parents.

Teens who have given up drugs and drinking thus have a lot of work cut out for them. To truly avoid peer pressure, they must become confident in their choice to stay clean, which takes both a lot of willpower and a lot of time spent among other sober people.

 

Why Are People Bothered by Sobriety?

In some cases, refusing to grab a drink can incur a negative reaction. If you’ve ever told a friend you’re not drinking, you might have noticed that, rather than being accepting or indifferent, they might become defensive instead, ridiculing you for your choice to stay sober.

While this isn’t a given, some people are far more sensitive about being told no than others. In part, this is because refusing to give into peer pressure around drinking may, in fact, reflect poorly on the choices others have made on the topic of their own drinking habits. Negative reactions to non-drinkers are not uncommon, as research shows it happens cross-culturally and has more to do with unwittingly forcing others to confront their own choices rather than any specific cultural influence.

 

Learn to Say No

The key to avoiding the effects of peer pressure is to either avoid being asked about your drinking, or simply being confident in your ability to refuse a drink.

Don’t go to social gatherings sure to involve alcohol if you aren’t confident that you can say no. Have a plan to always have a non-alcoholic drink in hand.

Go with a sober friend, so you’re sure to have someone to bail you out if things get awkward. And, sometimes, just saying no can do the trick.

Finding A Purpose in Your Sober Life

Finding Purpose in Sober Life

It may be an understatement to say that an addiction can leave a void in someone’s life. When going sober, one of the greatest challenges is figuring out what to do next – and not being paralyzed by the sheer choice of it all.

In many cases, people do one of two things: get stuck, procrastinating all the things they know or feel they should be doing, or dive headfirst into something with reckless abandon, making great progress only to burn out and crash with no reliable safety net in place.

It may be wise to take a more cautious approach to figuring life out after addiction, beginning with the obvious: what does one need?

We all need to work to support ourselves, for one – but we also need friends who support us along the way, and interests we can indulge in to relax, grow, and enjoy life.

In a way, each of these things give us purpose. And in that sense, it’s important to note that a person can (and should) have more than one purpose.

You can be a parent and a professional. You can be an expert in one thing and a novice in another. The roles we embrace in life are what help give our lives meaning, shaping who we are in our own minds and giving us a better and healthier sense of self. These roles help us fill that void in a way drugs never would have, and never will.

 

Why Purpose is Important

One of the ways in which an addiction can take a life is by completely unraveling it, and often ripping away everything the average person holds dear: family, friends, home, hobbies, and – in the darkest moments – the will to live.

When an addiction is treated, part of that treatment involves helping a person separate themselves from the thoughts they held while addicted, including thoughts of self-deprecation and self-harm.

They learn to associate new things with themselves, by building up the courage to try new things, indulge in old hobbies, and rediscover themselves.

That discovery and rediscovery of the self must go on for much longer than just the first few months of recovery, as it is critical for long-term recovery.

By giving yourself the chance to redefine who you are and take another stab at life – knowing that mistakes will be made and the road ahead will be challenging – you learn to make the critical decision to live on and grow despite the hell that an addiction can put you through.

By working to learn more about your roles in life – your purpose – you embrace sobriety as another chance at living and set aside addiction. That doesn’t make it go away, of course – the urge to use again lives inside every recovering addict, and a person doesn’t just forget what it felt like to be high.

Addiction settles itself in the brain, and it doesn’t take much to be reminded of how good it feels to use. Which is why it takes a lot to set that aside for sobriety.

 

Do What Interests You

The gist of finding new purposes in sobriety is to do what interests you. Seek out a job in a field you enjoy or are passionate about. Or continue to work to support yourself but take every chance to make a living out of what truly interests you.

Set aside a little time here and there for your own welfare, to take care of your mental needs. Go to therapy. Listen to music or make your own. Play some games. Hang out with friends. Keep in touch with those who matter to you and cut ties with those who hurt you. Use sobriety as the chance to explore what it means to you to be happy.

 

Striking a Balance

The most challenging part of finding things you love to do in addiction is learning to strike a balance between them and your daily responsibilities. Just as it isn’t mentally or physically healthy to be addicted to a drug, it isn’t mentally or physically healthy to be completely obsessed with any one aspect of your life.

There’s a difference between having a hobby and spending every available second devoted to your own interests. There’s a difference between having a healthy social life and doing nothing of interest outside of work and social engagements. And there’s a difference between having a healthy relationship with your work and being completely married to it.

We all need balance, but there’s a special benefit to seeking out a balanced way of life when recovering from addiction: it helps you better manage your cravings and eliminates a lot of the stress and frustration sourced from focusing too intensely on just one aspect of your life.

While it’s good to be gung-ho about something other than drug use when coming out of an addiction, there’s much to be gained from employing sensible moderation.

For people with a great interest in physical pursuits, it pays to remember that a lack of recovery does not only lead to diminishing gains but can cause injury.

For those entirely enamored in their life’s work and their new careers, it’s also important to note that when the high of an accomplishment wears off, what’s left is the company we keep. Loneliness is a terrible thing, and there’s more to fostering a genuine friendship with another human being than nurturing a workplace relationship.

It’s important to note that we do not advocate for social lives led simply under the pretense that it’s normal, and thus good, to lead rich and colorful social lives with plenty of friends.

How many friends we have and how we interact with them is entirely up to individual preference, yet it’s important to have friends you can be sober with. Go out as often as you’re comfortable, or not at all – invite your friends over, instead. Plan exotic getaways or a cozy night at home with some games and food. Do more than ever, or as little as possible. Just find people that mesh with you, share your interests, and accept your faults.

For every person more likely to take a passion to the extreme, there are a series of issues that might come back to haunt them later, fueling a potential relapse. To avoid falling back into old habits, it’s important to remember that passion and obsession are separate things. Pursue your purpose, but don’t forget to take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and socially.

Is It Possible to Find a Luxury Setting for Sober Living & Recovery?

Luxury setting for Sober Living

When most people think about drug recovery and sober living, thoughts of luxury are very unlikely to enter their minds. We think of drug addiction treatment of something gritty and unpleasant, as individuals spend hours locked in dingy rooms desperately battling their own demons while taking a series of pills to combat the nausea and the headaches caused by severe withdrawal symptoms. Some might think of a circle of addicts seated together in a rented basement, Naloxone posters and anti-smoking ads lining the walls as a therapist talks to the round encouraging others to share their story and discuss their experiences.

But the truth is that addiction recovery is extremely varied and exists in many forms. Some stories of recovery unfortunately begin in an overnight jail cell, before moving to the courtroom, followed by a mandated stay at a local rehab facility. Other stories don’t involve a residential stay of any kind, instead involving the struggles of a single parent as they try to make their weekly outpatient meetings after successful rehab. And some have the option of choosing their own path toward long-term sobriety, only to be met with an overwhelming amount of choices.

In the state of California in particular, rehab has grown into a sizeable industry over the decades, giving residents a wide variety of potential settings for sober living homes. The challenge lies in finding the right sober living home.

 

What is Sober Living?

Sober living wouldn’t be described as luxurious in most cases, but luxury sober living homes have been a successful model for relapse prevention and addiction rehabilitation for years. Like any person, an addict doesn’t respond well to horrible conditions – besting an addiction means working with an addict to develop strategies that are most effective for them, whether that means using sports to overcome cravings, helping an addict focus on their career to stop their addiction, or supporting their talents as an artist to motivate them to stay sober in the long-term and pursue their own potential. By working with addicts to bring out the best in themselves, sober living homes help them develop their own unique skillset to avoiding relapse and maintaining sobriety.

Sober living homes differentiate themselves from usual rehab centers by avoiding programs, instead giving residents a space of their own, a weekly schedule, common chores, and a set of rules – which often include a strict curfew and mandatory job searching/employment. This barebones concept serves to help recovering addicts better themselves, communicating with their tenants and developing tools for sobriety in an environment that is devoid of drug-related temptation and violence, yet otherwise quite normal.

This lends itself well to the “luxury setting”, although many misunderstand what this means. Luxury drug recovery isn’t about gold plating and alcohol-free champagne – it’s better staff-to-patient ratios, more amenities, greater freedoms, better access to nature, a wide range of experts to counsel with, and an approach specifically built according to the latest in addiction treatment, offering flexibility, multimodal treatment, and long-term care through relapse prevention and resources aimed at helping former residents stay in touch and support each other for continued recovery outside of the sober living home.

 

Does a Luxury Setting Make a Difference? 

It most certainly does. For one, luxury settings set themselves apart by investing solely in what benefits the resident. Luxury sober living homes and high-end rehab facilities work to offer every viable approach to addiction recovery by working with some or all of personal trainers, meditation experts, dietitians, reputable and experienced psychiatrists, therapy pets, and/or other professionals to help recovering addicts discover an approach that elicits the most progress.

A “luxury setting” can often also mean offering what many might consider a basic right, such as increased privacy, the right to proper gender-specific treatment, the right to addressing an addiction not in a vacuum but in the context of an addict’s other circumstances and issues, ranging from other mental illnesses to experiences with stigma, family problems, and more.

Aftercare is another hallmark of luxury sober living and rehab, as luxury sober living homes have the ability to continue to care for their patients after they’ve left by helping them work on sustaining their long-term mental and emotional wellbeing, as well as regularly following up through online and physical correspondence to see how former residents are doing on their own.

A luxury setting isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, as addiction treatment never is. But for many addicts, it’s exactly what they need. The name can be a bit of a misnomer – while a “luxury setting” implies privilege and unnecessity, many of the services almost exclusively offered through luxury rehab are in fact necessary in the treatment of addiction. A basic right to privacy, a reasonable staff and patient ratio, high-quality aftercare, as well as addiction treatment in accordance with the latest in research – while luxury sober living homes and rehab facilities are often very well-decorated and picturesque, it’s these vital services that set them apart from the bulk of other facilities.

 

Luxury Rehab Still Isn’t Easy 

Luxurious or not, rehab is always hard. While addiction can be accurately described as a brain disease, it’s very important to discuss what this means. Some might misunderstand that addicts are in any way predestined to become addicted – it’s much more accurate to describe addiction as something that has the potential to occur in anybody, but that certain circumstances and factors make it more likely, and every case of addiction occurs due to a unique series of triggering factors linked to a person’s upbringing, experiences, mental state, suggestibility, and more.

This is important because it illustrates that addiction is something that can affect us all, and when someone does become addicted, they struggle with a disorder that at times feels more powerful than they are. While luxurious amenities provide addicts with a greater variety of options in treatment, rehab is still rehab. An addict must effectively go against their own will, avoiding temptation and deliberately ignoring powerful cravings. Many addicts have forgotten how to deal with stress without turning to drugs, requiring a whole host of new tools and abilities. That too requires time and practice.

It’s hard work to overturn an addiction, and while luxury rehab and sober living can make the initial stages much easier through better treatment, the bulk of the work still relies on the will and initiative of the recovering addict maintaining the lifestyle changes made during recovery, as well as the love and support of family and friends who are there to help out when willpower alone isn’t enough.

 

How Does A Men’s Sober Living Contribute to Your Recovery?

How A Men's Sober Living Contributes to Recovery - Transcend Recovery

Addiction recovery treatment exists in many forms, from rehab clinics and treatment centers to sober living homes and 12-step communities. Some clinics offer outpatient programs while others specialize in residential treatment, offering both a path to sobriety and a temporary home for addicts who need another chance at life.

But in all its forms, addiction recovery faces the question: treat addicts together, or separately? While most centers and clinics specialize in both group therapy and individual treatment, the question pertains specifically to gender – some clinics do co-ed programs, while others specially tailor their offerings to men or women.

There’s good reason for that, as much research as gone to show. While we strive for a better, more equal world, where women can explore the same opportunities afforded to men and men don’t have to shoulder the entirety of the burden usually reserved for the male sex, it’s also a fundamental truth that men and women are different, and experience addiction very differently. Addiction both occurs differently for men than it does for women, and the effects of treatment are observably different in women than they are in men.

By embracing these facts and learning more through them, single-sex treatment facilities aim to provide a better experience to thousands of addicts across the country seeking help for their affliction.

To understand how a men’s sober living community can contribute to a man’s recovery, it’s important to understand the differences between men and women in all things addictive.

 

Men and Women Struggle Differently 

Men are more likely to use drugs. Women are more likely to get addicted to their drug use. Men are twice as likely to be addicts due to higher rates of use and availability, but drugs affect women more strongly, and they’re at greater risk for relapse following abstinence. While men are likely to consume, women have a harder time with quitting.

Research into the effects of opioids, alcohol, and nicotine in men and women revealed differences possibly linked to sex hormones and physical differences between men and women, further giving insight into the necessary differences between treating addicted men and addicted women.

Some of the concrete differences between men and women in recovery and risk of relapse include the facts that women are more likely to suffer overdose deaths and physical side effects, while men experience more intense withdrawal symptoms. Men on average have longer periods of abstinence before a relapse, while women report more intense cravings.

Sociological differences exist as well, supporting the argument for gender-specific rehab as many examples of drug use among women stem from problems created by men, ranging from domestic abuse and violence to an addicted partner, and more.

 

The Downsides of Co-Ed Rehab

While coed rehab can treat all human equally, addiction treatment requires a more individualized approach. Women are more likely to self-medicate for pain and anxiety, conditions they experience more often than men. Their reasons for taking drugs often overlap with other women, but not with men. Meanwhile, men face certain challenges that women do not, including higher death rates.

Female-only camaraderie and male-only camaraderie exists and can be harnessed positively to help countless recovering addicts overcome their past shortcomings and look forward optimistically to a brighter future.

Furthermore, co-ed rehab presents the possibility of romance between members of the opposite sex, a temptation that can easily derail an otherwise successful journey towards long-term sobriety, as new relationships formed during such volatile periods of self-discovery and healing often end dramatically and painfully, and quite suddenly.

Co-ed rehab better prepares individuals for interactions with both sexes out in the normal world. But men’s sober living can better help men who feel uncomfortable seeking treatment alongside women, either because they fear that they might grow attached to someone, or because they feel that a more gender-specific approach might help them better address their concerns in recovery, in ways that would not be possible in a co-ed environment.

 

Life Isn’t Gender-Specific

Same sex sober living homes aren’t designed to replicate all the challenges and temptations of life. However, gender-specific sober living still aims specifically to arm individuals with the tools and skills necessary to nurture and maintain sobriety outside of the context of recovery.

What sets sober living homes apart from other forms of addiction treatment is an attempt to ease addicts into tackling normal everyday responsibilities, from staying clean to maintaining employment, upholding social obligations, seeking out healthier ways to cope with stress and have fun, as well as learn how to deal with life’s curve balls without turning to drugs.

But life outside of sober living homes is still very different from life within the walls of sober living. Despite all the preparation, nothing truly prepares someone for the temptation of being out and about again, completely free to meet up with old friends and start using again.

It’s at that point that a recovering addict must muster all of their willpower and recall every lesson they have ever learned on the subject of recovery to stay clean. The same goes for the opposite sex. Most experts suggest staying away from new romantic relationships for at least a year of recovery, in order to cement one’s newfound sobriety before endangering it through potential heartbreak and rejection.

That doesn’t mean it’s forbidden to fail – if a recovering addict finds themselves spiraling out of control, the best course of action to take is to go straight back to recovery, starting not at square one, but at an entirely new junction in their long-term journey against addiction.

 

Men’s Sober Living and Homosexuality 

One point made earlier in this article specifically talks about the difficulties of potentially entertaining a romantic bond in mixed sex treatment, and the tension that comes with being treated alongside the opposite sex.

However, men’s sober living has also become a haven for many homosexual addicts looking for a safe place to recover and seek treatment when LGBT-specific options were unavailable. While attracted to the same sex, the other benefits of a male-only treatment center still apply to homosexual men.

Being homosexual, transsexual, or otherwise non-heterosexual puts one at far greater risk of experiencing discrimination, stigma, ostracization, and other factors that heavily contribute and often lead to the development of an addiction to drugs. Society has slowly come to accept homosexuality, but not fully. Like many other minorities, gay men are still made to feel abnormal in many circumstances. This is only amplified when one is addicted, as all negative experiences are.

Men’s sober living provides a safe place for men from all backgrounds and sexualities to seek treatment for their addiction, and tackle sobriety at their own pace. In time, every individual seeking treatment will find their own path towards long-lasting recovery, regardless of the obstacles and pitfalls along the way. Sober living homes are dedicated towards providing the right environment to make that dream a reality.

The 7 Best Stress Relievers for a Sober Lifestyle

7 Effective Sober Stress Relievers - Transcend Recovery Community

Drug use is, among other things, an excellent short-term stress reliever. But it’s in the long-term that its flaws become glaringly obvious – and dangerous. Such forms of stress relief are also known as maladaptive coping mechanisms.

In short, they serve to cope with stress but don’t serve to help alleviate it.

The difference between one and the other is the difference between taking a pill to ignore the pain and going to a medical professional to fix the cause.

Maladaptive coping mechanisms help distract us from our problems and let us avoid the pain they can cause. But when the high wears off, the problems are still there – and in many cases, neglect causes them to actively grow.

This becomes a perpetuating cycle where many feel trapped by problems they can no longer address, seeing their addictive habit as the only escape from constant misery.

Facing problems head on isn’t easy, but often necessary.

Adaptive coping mechanisms are those that help a person deal with the stress that comes from dealing with problems, effectively pursuing activities that help one adapt and overcome the challenges they face in life rather than distracting them from the problems they face.

These are the kind of sober stress relievers anyone aspiring to stay sober should prioritize.

 

1. Find Things That Calm You

We all have different things that help us calm down and keep from hyperventilating. Whether it’s a song, a thought, a picture, a video, a memory, or an action, it’s important to write down what helps you deal with agitated moments and moments of restlessness and keep a list of these tips nearby.

It can be something simple, like a note on the fridge reminding you to breathe. It can be a habit you use to try and take your mind off a terrible thought, and calm down, like a routine household task, walking the dog, or going through the motions of making a cup of tea.

Think of these measures as emergency calming methods you can use to try and calm down in the event that you feel agitated as a result of cravings or urges.

 

2. A Walk in the Park (Literally)

If you are anywhere near a park or forest, consider yourself very lucky.

Being around nature has proven health benefits, particularly mental ones, often helping people feel much calmer and happier, and less moody.

Going for a walk can help you not only clear your mind of negative thoughts that are more common among people with addiction, but it can also help you make better sense of the messes in your mind and organize your thoughts in such a way that you can better plan for the near future.

 

3. Try Slow Exercise

While there is something cathartic about just laying into a bike or into the pavement for a couple minutes, the real benefits of relaxation and a lifted mood come from steady pace exercising that often lasts over an hour.

Pick a form of cardio you can do for over half an hour and start at a conversational pace. It could be walking, a slow jog, swimming, rowing, biking, taking the stairs, or anything else.

Slow exercise, especially in the water or out in nature, can bring your stress levels down a lot and keep you calm. This is better than spiking your cortisol with HIIT programs or very heavy lifting. Mind you, some people do respond well to more impactful exercises, and feel a greater sense of relief after a round of boxing, or some big weights.

Ultimately, you should do whatever helps you feel best.

 

4. Organize a Comedy Night 

There are very few things as immediately and highly effective for killing stress and improving a bad mood as a good old laugh.

Comedy can be a very effective sober stress reliever, and it’s a good idea to schedule a day in a week or a day in a month to head out to your local comedy club with some friends, or just plan a get-together to browse through Netflix together for some laughs.

Spend more time curating your social media feeds with content that makes you happy, from funny videos to cute animals and uplifting news stories.

Change the way you consume media on your devices and television by more actively filtering through what you watch and take a digital break every now and again to just head out with some friends without giving into the urge to check a phone or tablet.

 

5. Try Meditation

Research has shown that meditation can be very effective in managing stress. But for most people, meditation isn’t a ‘straightforward’ process. Some take to it easily, while others have a hard time starting.

To better explain how meditation functions, think of it first as being ‘actively mindful’.

Mindfulness, when practiced properly, allows an individual to softly dissociate from their worries and struggles and achieve a calm overview of their own situation.

Think of life as a road trip. Now imagine stepping off the road and observing from a distance, watching each individual thought as it passes by, without being ‘in the middle of it all’.

Being actively mindful gives you a different perspective, which can help calm you.

 

6. Talk to Your Therapist 

‘Letting it all out’ is a good way to relieve stress, even if it doesn’t seem particularly productive. Sometimes, we just need a few minutes to lay down the facts, bear our feelings, and be honest with both ourselves and someone else.

While a therapist is a great option, as it’s their job to help you sort through your emotions and consider what to do with them, the same can be said for a friend, pet, or even a plant. The critical points to consider are:

  1. Not being alone
  2. Being honest

Just take a deep breath and start talking. You’ll feel much better by the end.

 

7. Tackle Your Procrastination 

A good way to reduce the amount of stress in your life is to cut down on the things that are stressing you out.

If you have tasks and deadlines to worry about, get them out of the way as early as possible. Put the time and effort in to take care of as much as you need to take care of, so you have more time to spend doing the things you enjoy doing.

If you find yourself often frozen, unable, or unwilling to do what needs to be done, it might be a good idea to bring the issue up with a mental health professional. Procrastination might seem like old-fashioned laziness, but there are often other subconscious factors at play keeping someone from simply sitting down and focusing on the tasks at hand.

There are other ways to deal with stress, and these are just a few of the sober stress relievers that we recommend. Consider trying them all and seeing what works for you, taking note of how effective they seem to be.

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.