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.