Addiction is a long fight – for many, it takes years of trying to stay sober to find the point in life where you feel like you can put it all behind you. Staying motivated throughout that fight can sometimes feel like an impossible task. However, thousands of Americans do it every year, tackling their addiction, and living day after day as a sober person.
While there is nothing wrong with sourcing your motivation externally, there comes a point in life when you must be the source of your own motivation – because if you do not truly want to stay sober, then no amount of support will help carry you through the time it takes to grow beyond an addiction.
Motivation is a central part of addiction. It helps to understand that the disease itself attacks your brain’s reward center, corrupting your sense of what is motivating – in a way, at its peak, nothing is more rewarding and motivating than the high, and getting past that to stay sober takes incredible willpower and lots of help.
That is why addiction treatment centers work hard to keep you sober and remove any temptation for the duration of the program. That does not make staying sober much easier – especially with a painful withdrawal – but it makes is much more doable.
Beyond the initial recovery and treatment, staying sober is something you must work at – and with the right tools, you have a solid fighting chance. But learning how to stay motivated after addiction means relearning what it means to be motivated.
What Drives You To Stay Sober?
Is there anything you are passionate about? Addiction is as much a physical disease of the brain as it is an emotional battle – severing the tie between yourself and the emotions you feel when you are high can take a long time, and a powerful substitute. While no one should go exchanging one addiction for another, it is a good idea to find an alternate coping mechanism – something you can focus on when times get tough, to relieve stress without resorting to addiction.
Because of its sheer variability and efficacy as a tool for self-improvement and better focus, exercise can be a powerful passion. The hard part is figuring out what form of exercise suits you best. Running, cycling, swimming, climbing, lifting, fighting – the only way to find out is to try.
Of course, physical activity is not the only thing you can be passionate about after addiction. Just like getting active, exploring your own creativity, and expressing yourself on paper, on canvas or on a recorder can go a long way towards making you feel better, reducing stress, and improving at something.
There are greater nuances to feeling motivated. Some people enjoy exercise, but only with the additional motivator of competition. Being passionate about being the best is a great way to hone your focus and develop a drive entirely separate from your addiction. Others prefer to collaborate, seeking to work with others on creative endeavors, in order to make something truly unique for everyone to be proud of.
If you want to stay motivated, then sobriety alone cannot be your sole motivator. You need something else – a passion that pulls you towards it, something that you cannot risk giving up for addiction, no matter how strong the temptation becomes. It needs to be something you can turn towards when times are tough, but also something you enjoy on a regular basis even when your day is going perfectly.
Once you have found your passion, you are one big step closer to stay sober and build a life that is not easily given up.
The Importance Of Support
The people who support you throughout your addiction treatment are more than just your support – they are people, with lives and dreams and goals and wishes. Often, they may be close friend and family, or they could the people you have bonded with while getting sober.
Seeing them as friends to care about can create an interdependent relationship where one supports the other – focus on giving, and you may find that you will receive more in the long run. Doing good for others also naturally elicits a positive response in us – we want to do good things for others, and feel good about doing good things, even if we do not receive anything in return.
Building strong bonds with the people who care for you, and for whom you care, can create a greater sense of responsibility towards not just yourself, but others. This accountability to stay sober for their sake will build upon you and give you another sense of purpose beyond your interests, passions, and dreams.
Your responsibility to yourself deepens – to stay true to the person you are becoming, and the tomorrow you envisage for yourself, you must keep on resisting any urge to go back to the addiction.
Staying Motivated During Sobriety
Beyond passion and support, another important aspect of staying sober is finding a way to support yourself financially, without taking on too much stress to bear. If you are in a line of work that is financially stable, but find yourself stressed beyond belief, then leave. Find support, ask for help, and do your best to get into a line of work you truly care about – it can save your life.
There is more to finding a job than really wanting it, and there is more to finding the right job than simply wanting to work in that industry. However, an important goal for anyone on the road to sobriety is living a healthy life. That includes finding work to sustain yourself and help support your family as you stay sober, while enjoying the work you do.
This Is Your Fight
Every step in the right direction can be incredibly fulfilling – but you have to make each step yourself. While others can help support you, you must progress on your own and reach the conclusions you need to reach to find an emotionally stable place away from addiction, in a sober life built around your responsibilities to yourself, your passions, your dreams, your hopes, and the people you care about.
This is your fight – and waking up day after day, it’s your decision to stay sober and live in defiance of your past and the mistakes you once made.