Kicking Off the New Year Sober

Starting Sober In The New Year | Transcend Recovery Comunity

It’s a new year, and for many people, that thought brings a lot of hope to the table. With the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, the perfect time has come to close the chapter on the past and start fresh with a positive outlook. Even if you are not big on New Year’s resolutions, there’s a reason to be excited for 2018. If you have been struggling with sobriety or have only recently decided to act against your addiction, then this month is the perfect time to get ready to combat your addiction and make it through the next year entirely sober.

Sobriety is challenging not just because you’re abstaining from drugs, but because to be sober, a person usually must change. There’s this false idea that changing on any fundamental level is impossible, but that’s not true.

We can all learn to change our habits, pick up new hobbies, dispel old connotations, or even grow as people long after we’ve become adults. In fact, if people weren’t capable of change, we wouldn’t have to worry about addiction.

2018 is the perfect time for you to take up the task of changing your life for the better.


Why the New Year?

We’re in the month of January, so if you’re currently struggling with sobriety or just recently decided to get serious about treatment, then starting on the New Year is more a matter of circumstance than deliberate timing. The sooner you get started on recovery, the sooner you’ll get through the bumps of early recovery and the struggles of being sober right after months or years of addiction and destructive behavior.

Otherwise, if you’ve simply been looking for the right opportunity to make a change in your life, then there is no better time than now. The New Year’s spirit is simple: the old year is dead, long live the new year. In a day and age where reinventing yourself has become an industry, January is the perfect month for motivation and enthusiasm. Everybody wants to change something in the new year, and although many people struggle to fulfill their own expectations, all you need is the kickstart to get onto a journey that will last much longer than a single year.

It’s not just a modern tradition. With the new year eventually comes the end of winter, and the beginning of spring, a time for rejuvenation and reinvention. And just like how the early months of 2018 will be spent slowly defrosting our lives, it can also be used to make it past the harsh and frigid first months of addiction treatment.


How Sobriety Can Change Your Life

Sobriety will have a massive impact on your overall health and wellbeing – but it will also give you a new lease on life. Many people make the wrong assumption about sobriety, assuming a sober life to be boring, ascetic, and more of a punishment than a freeing experience. Others make sobriety out to be the end-all solution to all your problems – that once you quit drinking, smoking or using, everything will sort itself out.

Neither is true. Sobriety gives you an opportunity to live life with a clear head, so you can enjoy living again by reforming old relationships, creating new bonds, making brand new memories and experiences, and feeling love the way it’s meant to be felt.

But the road to learning to enjoy being sober, and figuring out just how to live life without drugs, is a long and bumpy road. There’s a reason many people jump into a life of sobriety only to become dry drunks – living is never easy, but with the right attitude and the right people, it’ll always be worth it.


3 Steps to Sobriety in 2018

There is no definitive guide to sobriety – everyone has their own way. But just because the answer is something you must define for yourself does not mean you can’t seek inspiration elsewhere.

From the popular twelve steps of the AA, to self-therapy guides and sober travel books, countless people have told of their best methods towards sobriety. Here are a few general steps towards staying sober for 2018 and beyond.


Commit to Treatment

The first step is always admitting there is a problem, and agreeing to seek help. Treatment facilities exist across the country, with different specializations to help you deal with your addiction in many ways. Some facilities are classic rehab facilities, others focus on a specific type of therapy, or use outdoor activities and other planned initiatives to help local addicts get better.

Find your ideal treatment solution, from sober living homes to residential treatment, and commit to it for the beginning of 2018.


Plan for Relapse

Early on during the process of addiction recovery, it is not uncommon to falter and relapse. However, instead of getting back up on the horse, many people fall prey to an emotional cycle that puts them through the wringer, and leaves them without the motivation to keep going.

Planning for a relapse can not only help you prevent one, but also prepare you for continuing treatment after a relapse. Depending on where you decide to seek treatment, they may provide you with additional resources to help get you ready.


Consider the Long-Term

Addiction treatment is meant to be temporary – after a certain amount of time, your group support meetings and regular therapy sessions will simply turn into lifelong friendships, or irregular calls between two friendly acquaintances.

While addiction may be something you’ll have to tackle with for the rest of your life, it’s not something you must treat professionally forever. Knowing that you’ll eventually be able to transition into a “normal” life can be comforting, but it’s still something you should prepare for.

While 2018 can be the beginning of something amazing in your life, it’s always going to be bigger than just a single year. Sobriety means knowing you’ll have to commit yourself to staying clean for the rest of your life.

During early recovery, this seems like more of an admonition than a blessing, but the further you’ll distance yourself from your addiction days, the more you’ll realize how much better life is when sober.

You won’t get the old you back – but you’ll get the opportunity to come up with a brand new you, and a completely different life. It all starts with a single decision, and a commitment towards a life of better living.


Asking For Help Is A Sign Of Strength, Not Weakness

Asking For Help Is A Sign Of Strength, Not Weakness | Transcend Recovery Community

The Expectation to Be Perfect

I always look back at my story and think of ways that I may have changed it in some way or form. Do I tell Mom and Dad when I start to feel different than the other kids my age because of how I’m being treated for being good at sports? Do I tell my coaches, my friends? Wait, I don’t have any friends really!! I can never remember seeing the star athlete, the class president, or the valedictorian stand in front of a group of his or her peers and ask for help.

Once you find any success, or are expected by others to perform exceptionally in some way, you almost always find shame in admitting that you’re feeling insecure. That maybe you can’t do this alone. The feeling that you got yourself to this place on your own and can deal with anything that may come your way, is empowering yet very misguided. I never really looked at how I was helped along the way early in my life. I was nurtured by an amazing family and community that allowed me to perform at a very high level. I accepted help in ways that I didn’t simply view as help.

Once I was placed on a pedestal for my athletic ability, throwing a football, my narcissistic personality ran rampant. I struggled greatly in High School because I wasn’t like the others my age. Knowing now that I was going to be part of something that only 1% of the top 1% ever get a chance to do makes it more understanding, but at the time I didn’t know how to cope. I am the only person ever from the State of Montana to be drafted into the NFL. I found myself in a position that no one in my community had experienced before, so by default, I had nobody to relate to in that regard and always felt out of place to a degree.

I reacted with profound judgment and fear when I was treated differently, and the only way I knew how to protect myself was through negative coping mechanisms. I pushed people away, isolated, and acted out behaviorally to make myself even more of an outcast. Looking back, I was an ego maniac with a self-esteem problem.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization. They provide awareness, support, and education to those affected by mental illness.


Letting Go of Ego

My parents tried to do what they could. They took me to a therapist, but I simply manipulated him to get my way. I told him what he wanted to hear. I portrayed a life that was all put together and that it wasn’t me, but other people who were the problem. I always played the victim because I never wanted to truly confront the real issue – I was the problem, not someone else. The elimination of these behaviors may have been accomplished if I didn’t feel that asking for help was a sign of weakness. I now know that reaching out would have been a sign of strength. Being vulnerable is a way of finding humility; it’s also a way of being accountable to yourself and to someone else. The way I have reacted to, and dealt with, my life experiences are just like practicing a craft.

For almost 37 years, I managed to practice the wrong ways to live my life. Those learned behaviors do not change overnight. Life is best lived when we focus on progress rather than perfection. The belief that I was perfect at any time in my life is absurd. The idea that I had to portray strength and perfection at all times set an unachievable bar to reach. I tried so hard to conceal every unmet expectation from the world because I was terrified of letting others down and being viewed as a failure. Living with this sort of secret, shame only resulted in deep resentment that I carried for many years. My biggest mistake was that I did not admit I needed help.

I had a belief that the ideals I needed to live up to and achieve were: 1. Money, 2. Power, & 3. Prestige. It’s all I saw. This belief system developed from the lifestyle I believed would get me the most respect, and part of that meant I could not show any bit of vulnerability. I have a crazy but true story about a time when I was offered an opportunity to spend the weekend on the private island of world renowned motivational and inspirational speaker, Tony Robbins. The intent of this invitation was to help me better myself. I was in a tough place mentally and emotionally during that time, but because I could not let myself be vulnerable, I was immediately defensive. Aggression was my reflexive reaction, and I think my exact words were, “Fuck Tony Robbins.”

Looking back, I realize what a valuable opportunity that was to understand myself and my feelings, and to learn how I could become a better person. Until you are ready and willing to make the decision to do the self-work, such opportunities are useless.

Step 1 – Ask for Help, Step 2 – Accept It

I would look in the mirror during my darkest days and simply ask for help from someone, anyone. I knew I needed and wanted it, I just did not know how to ask for it because I had never done so before. My help came in the form of the Cascade County’s Sheriff Department. It wasn’t how I wanted it, but it was what I needed. I often wondered what might have been if I had asked for, and received, the support I needed before all the consequences. Focusing on the past for which I cannot change is not helpful though. I have gratitude for the life I lived and the person I am now, but the hope is that someone out there who is in a place of hopelessness and misery, may hear my story and reach out for support before they hit their rock bottom.

I choose to continuously share my journey of recovery so that the listener may use my experiences as inspiration to find the strength that is already inside themselves. It takes courage to ask someone for help, and it takes practice and time to fully understand that the vulnerability you show will be the strongest thing you do in this life. Part of that strength is surrender and acceptance of the help you receive. It may not look like, or come in the form, that you thought. Taking suggestion is an action of asking for the help. You can’t, and don’t, have to do this alone. This is simply about living life, about another human being choosing to live their best life, and you being a part of that solution together.

For treatment resources and directories, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website. Here you can look up local resources for substance abuse support and treatment near you.