There’s no question that a lifestyle of drinking and a lifestyle of sobriety are very different. When you’re drinking and using, the high melts your inhibitions. You’re free, wild, and unreserved. Perhaps you’re more friendly, sexually open, alive, full of vitality, less judgmental and even funny when you’re drunk. Perhaps you have memories that you know you won’t ever have again living sober. It’s easy to miss the person you were when you were drinking or using.
But what do you do? You know you’re never going to go back to that kind of lifestyle. Drinking gets out of hand. Over time, you might have destroyed a marriage, lost your job, spent time in jail because of accumulated DUIs, or became physically ill because of too much alcohol intake. So you know that you’re not going to return to drinking; you know that living in sobriety is the healthier, the more sane choice.
And yet, you have those fond memories. You have friends and lovers that touched you in ways that were wildly fun and exuberantly joyful. There’s a glamour in drinking. Research has shown that this is actually one of the obstacles to sober living. Those who relapse and who are still identified with the romance of drinking can more frequently relapse.
In fact, a different study done in 2006 and published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) revealed intriguing information about alcohol abuse and chronic relapse. Essentially, the study found that those who become alcohol dependent before the age of 25 are less likely to ever seek treatment than those who become alcohol dependence at age 30 or older. This same group (those 25 and younger) is also more likely to have multiple dependence episodes of longer duration than those who become alcohol dependent later in life. Certainly, the romance of drinking is greater emphasized for young adults, such as in high school and college.
Yet, the glamour of having a drink and letting loose can be felt at any age. Drinking and drugging are included in many memorable movie scenes. Whether it’s a group of guys drinking around a poker table, or a cocaine addict laying out his lines of coke, or the heroin addicts of Pulp Fiction, Hollywood continues to see the use of drugs as cool or as something needed to be brave.
But what do you do in those moments when you’re missing your old life, when you’re wishing that you could take the good parts of it with you in your new life of sobriety? Below are some quick suggestions.
Get together with a friend who has also stopped using and reminisce together. Share those fun times together so that you’re not the only one experiencing them. Find someone who also values sobriety just as much so that the two of you don’t convince one another to return to using.
Remind yourself of the painful moments too. Sure there were wonderful times and you had great inner freedom to be who you are but that freedom came at a cost. Remind yourself of the destruction that drinking or drug use brought on.
Write those memories down and glean what you can from them. Feel those freeing feelings now as you write. Tap into the person you were when you were drinking. Feel the restraints you might be placing on yourself now and while you’re writing feel what it’s like to be without them.
Discover the ways that you can be the person you were while committed to your sobriety. Certainly, there are other ways to experience freedom and wildness in life. Each person finds it in different places. Some find it in Nature and accomplish exhilarating achievements like rock climbing, hiking to the top of mountains, or bungee jumping. Others find it by getting creative and getting lost in the river of the limitless imagination. And still others find it in music, whether it’s listening to music or creating music of their own.
Although the drinking and using life has it’s glamour, it also has its problems. If you’re missing the person you were before you got sober, try the above suggestions.
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