Motivation is important for recovery. No matter how expensive or qualitative your drug addiction treatment ends up being, its effectiveness at least partially depends on your willingness to commit to the changes you’ve made in your life. Other factors matter as well, such as how applicable the treatment is to your issues, and the support you get from friends and loved ones when willpower alone isn’t enough to get you through the day. But if your heart isn’t in it, you’ll be hard-pressed to continue being sober.
For most people going through a recovery program, the motivation to stay sober starts out at an all-time high and only begins to fade as time goes on. This is especially difficult for first-time recoverees, as they start out motivated for the journey ahead yet begin to lose motivation in their own sobriety around the same time that they feel they’re finally ‘through’ with all of their recovery work. This results in finding yourself practically alone and without any set structure to rely on as you begin to struggle with emotions and thoughts surrounding old habits and potential relapses.
That is precisely why so many insist that recovery is a lifelong process. It doesn’t end with getting out of rehab. It doesn’t end after finishing your outpatient recovery program. It’s not over the day you decide to move out of that sober home and back into an apartment or house of your own. Recovery and sobriety are lifelong commitments, and as such, they require a lifetime of work. But that doesn’t have to be a condemnation or a bad thing – working on your recovery can be fulfilling and can be an important step to figuring out how you want to define yourself in sobriety.
Why Did You Go Sober?
When in doubt, it’s important to return to the root cause. What drove you to seek out help to begin with? What was the moment when you realized you need to step up and sober up? What thought fueled the realization that you must make a choice between dying through drug use or making better use of your time on this ball in space?
There are countless potential reasons, and everyone has their own personal reason. Some did it for their children. Some did it for a partner. Some did it for the family. Some did it for friends. Or to keep a dream job. Or because they feared death. Or because they realized how terrible they felt physically. Or because they had to get out the relationship that drove them to that point.
All of these reasons are valid, and it’s critical you find yours and never let go of it. Frame it, in your mind or physically. And consider what else drove you to go sober. Make a list of 3-5 reasons why you had to stop taking drugs, and why you felt the need to completely clean – so that whenever you feel like those reasons are slipping away from you, you’ve got the right reference to look them up again.
Why Being Sober is Better
Just as there are countless reasons to stop using drugs, there are countless reasons being sober is better than being addicted. But to go over just a few of them:
You’ll feel better, physically and mentally. Excessive drug use wrecks the mind and body, with serious long-term consequences. It takes time for those wounds to heal, but the difference will be astounding. Not only will you feel better, but you’ll be able to think clearly, sleep properly, and worry less.
You’ll have much more time. Addiction is incredibly time-consuming and expensive, and can rob a person of weeks, months, and years. Many teens who start off getting addicted at a young age find themselves stalling both physically and emotionally, skipping forward in time. Recovering from that loss of time can be brutal, but there is also something very liberating about knowing you now have much more time on your hands. It’s also something you’re more likely to appreciate and use wisely.
Relationships will have meaning again. It’s tough to be in a meaningful and honest relationship with someone when you’re addicted. A big part of addiction is the inability to truly control your urges and cravings, and that often leads to a complete lack of trust both in yourself, and on your partner’s end, feeling that you’ve lost trustworthiness. But with the ability to be honest and remain true to your commitments, you have the potential to develop beautiful relationships and friendships with those you love and care about.
You can give back and help others heal. The recovery process is different for everybody, but there’s something to learn from each and every story. As unlikely as you might think it, there’s potential for your story to be the one to help someone else make the right choice and commit to sobriety. You can give back to the community and people who helped you heal by continuing to help them stop addiction in other people’s lives.
As your recovery programs draw to a close, it’s important to remember that you will have to begin relying on yourself to stay motivated. Not all the time – there will be days or weeks when you just need help, and that’s perfectly okay – but there’s no question about the fact that you do have to continue putting the work into your recovery, even years after going sober.
Work is not a dirty word, and it’s time to embrace the fact that work can feel good, even when it’s objectively hard. As humans, we don’t necessarily thrive in setting that requires us to be on vacation 100% of the time. Neither do we thrive under the pressure of constant crunch time. But when we’re working, day in and day out, for something we believe in, we feel that we’re pursuing and fulfilling a purpose in life, and that every hour spent awake has meaning.
Believe in your recovery. Pursue a better life for yourself and those around you knowing that it’s through your efforts that you’ve come this far, away from the bad old days. And know that even when you stumble or fall, it won’t be as difficult to get back on your feet.