8 Tips On Avoiding Temptation After Recovery

Avoiding Temptation to Relapse

The act of getting sober is the first step in a long journey. Staying sober long enough to completely get the drugs out of your system and survive any withdrawal symptoms can be difficult without assistance, but many manage. Yet that’s when the trouble really begins. Day after day, the first few weeks of early recovery are mired in cravings and temptations, reminders and nagging thoughts of release and relapse. For some, avoiding temptation feels like sticking your head into a bucket of water, holding your breath, until you realize that to survive, you’ll have to develop gills rather than pulling out.

Gills take time to develop – or more concretely, avoiding temptation and recovery is about learning how to enjoy life while sober and stop thinking about the temptations and cravings. With time, they do fade – but the beginning can be excruciating for many. Some don’t make it through the first few weeks without a relapse, and it may take several until you finally abstain permanently. The key is not to give up, and to eventually make sobriety the norm, rather than avoiding temptation the uncomfortable exception.

Life while sober is not meant to be boring, monotone, or painful. It’s meant to be everything that life while addicted is not: namely, real and beautiful. Life while sober is life, in its full diversity and absurdity. It’s everything that being alive is meant to be, and if you can appreciate that, then recovery will be much easier. Here are a few ways to work on avoiding temptation in early recovery and keep your mind off a potential relapse.


Find New Hobbies

Having new things to do is more than just about filling time, but it’s about engaging in something that requires concentration, focus, and brain power. Teaching yourself a new skill takes time and effort, and not only will that reduce your ability to think inwards and react to your cravings, but it will help you rebuild any brain power lost through drug abuse.

While the brain is not quite a regenerative organ, it does have the capacity to recover from damage through continuous use – and like a muscle, using it regularly keeps it healthy. The best way to do that is by learning something new, all the time. From reading books to playing puzzle games or engaging in deep discussion and philosophizing, doing something new can help you rediscover the beauty of simple sober living and keep your mind off other things.


Create A Busy Schedule

Another way of avoiding temptation is to give yourself less time to think about it. Create a strict schedule, and stick to it.

Build a morning routine, structure your day around work, allocate hours of the day to specific chores, tasks, and hobbies, and build a day that leaves you feeling accomplished and tired each time you hit the hay.


Get Your Endorphin Release

Even if you’re not a particularly sporty person, doing something active on a regular basis can greatly improve your outlook on life, improve your health, and make you happier in general.

You don’t need to hit the gym if you’re intimidated or bored by conventional exercising. Find a dance studio, or go for walks in the park, or go swimming. There are many ways to get physical, and many don’t have to involve sports or traditional workouts.


Know Your Triggers

Another tip for avoiding temptation is avoiding your triggers. Sometimes, the cravings come and go – but they are often triggered by a familiar stimulus, such as a sight, sound, or smell. It could be a stroll through an old neighborhood, a specific song, or a painting.

Anything bringing back the nostalgia of years gone by and your days as an addict can be counterproductive to your early recovery and should be avoided. With time, you can readjust and reintroduce these memories without much risk – but it’s best not to tempt fate early in the healing process and just work on avoiding temptation at that time.


Make New Friends

Aside from finding new things to do, it’s also a great idea to meet new people. Not only might you be surprised at how a few strangers could enrich your life with stories and perspectives you might never have expected, but new friends can stave off the loneliness or introversion that often follows sobriety, especially if your old circle of friends hasn’t completely accepted your decision of avoiding temptation.


Pursue New Experiences

Whether it’s a trip into a different part of the country, a food you’ve never tried before, or an experience you’ve never experienced, make a promise to yourself to be more open this time around and make an effort to taste every bit life has to offer, regardless of what it might be offering.


Have A Support Group

No matter how much time has passed since you left the addiction treatment clinic, the support should never end. Think about your friends and family, and how they have stood by you throughout your recovery. Cherish this support group and nourish your relationships with each person who means something to you. Our connections to others make life better, and more valuable.


Avoiding Temptation & Staying In Therapy

Therapy is more than just your gateway into sober living. Therapy is meant to be a continuous, lifelong process – although it does not always have to be in front of a therapist. It doesn’t hurt to check in with your therapist every now and again and talk about the progress you’ve made, but in the meantime, be sure to approach other forms of therapy, and find what helps you work through your stress and your personal issues with addiction the most.

Some people prefer group therapy, as it presents an opportunity not only to talk about issues with others who have had similar experiences, but it provides you with a place to make new friends and help newcomers to the sober life.

Others prefer creative therapy, like music therapy or art therapy. It’s best to continue staying in whatever form of therapy your treatment entailed for at least a year or so, and then branch out into finding other ways to live life and reflect.

Temptations will never fully go away, but your attitude towards them will change. Avoiding temptation does not have to be dangerous, if your conviction is strong enough, and your motivation to resist is unbreakable. One aspect about sober living is in the idea that you should spend as much time and energy as possible learning new things and building relationships, skills, and experiences. This is because the more you have, the more likely you want to protect it – and that gives you a greater drive to resist any cravings and temptations and continue to reap the rewards of well-lived sober life.

Just being sober itself won’t be enough to change your life, but it will give you the chance to change it. You must take that chance and, with the guidance of others around you, never let go.


How A Sober Companion Can Help You Overcome Addiction

sober companion | transcend Recovery Community

The issue of sobriety has been addressed for centuries in America. Getting sober and staying sober has been a goal for people long before the inception of AA, and addiction and sobriety as concepts are older than this republic of ours. Yet despite the long and hard struggle, we still have a problem with drugs and alcohol. However, one thing that has changed is how we approach the issue: the idea of a sober companion.

Sobriety usually had its place in society as a form of spiritual cleanliness. While some religions experimented with psychedelics as part of their rituals, others denoted the importance of keeping a clear head. It wasn’t until quite recently in human history when science began addressing the medical importance of addiction, most commonly including the damage done by abuse of alcohol and morphine, and in the 19th century, we began treating the issue. It took decades for a unified definition, with countless terms being coined to generally explain the same thing – a habitual and insatiable craving for certain substances, with damaging consequences.

From there, the debate sparked around the how and why. Is it psychological, or physical? Or both?

Recent studies show that addiction is a disease of the brain and must be treated on both a physical and psychological level. Yet instead of giving patients their medicine and sending them on their way, time and empirical evidence has proven that therapy is the most effective way of preventing relapses and achieving long-term sobriety. Most notably, however, the social aspect of recovery is what seems to help patients stick to their sobriety even in times of high stress.

Enter the sober companion. While still a relatively new career in addiction treatment, sober companionship has its benefits when it comes to helping people stay clean.


What Is A Sober Companion?

A sober companion is someone available to a recoveree, often living with them, and providing constant guidance and help. Sober companions or sober mentors are more than just good friends. A sober companion is not stationed in an office, approachable thrice a week for a standard consultation.

Sometimes, a sober companion is trained to work with people to adapt their recovery to who they are, what they can and can’t do, and what they need. Other times, they have no professional or psychiatric training.

Addiction is a complicated disease, and the reasons for why people get addicted and stay addicted vary wildly. As such, there is no easy answer for getting sober. It takes hard work and the right people to find out exactly what works best for you in recovery, and a sober companion can help you figure that out.

Sober companions are paid by the week or the month, and they can help you out for a few weeks, or a few years. There are no concrete limits, and the exact terms and rules depend entirely on you, your companion, and how you want to frame your relationship.


Companionship vs. Sponsorship

Many draw parallels between sober companions and sober sponsors, but there is a significant difference. Sober sponsors, typically as part of a 12-step program like Alcoholics Anonymous, are basically members of the program who have taken it upon themselves to help you stay sober by offering advice, knowledge, and time. Sometimes, they become friends.

At other times, they become confidants. Yet in every case, a sponsor is meant to help prepare you for many of the things you’re likely going to face in early sobriety by drawing from their own experiences working with others and on themselves. There is no training involved, and very little in terms of necessary qualification. It’s not a profession, either – sponsors are not paid to do the work they do with others.

Sober companions are professionals. Some are trained, others are not. Some act as life coaches or personal trainers in addition to being sober companions, or as spiritual guidance. Others focus solely on keeping you sober, 24/7. All sober companions are paid to do the work they do and dedicate themselves to your sobriety by doing whatever it takes to help you stay clean. They may be your friends one day and your nemesis another, but every ounce of effort is put towards improving your recovery.

Regardless of whether you find a sober sponsor, or enlist a sober companion, they both do have one thing in common – they are a significant part of your support system. A support system is a group of people you rely on to get through hard times. Chances are you are part of someone else’s support system – a friend or a loved one – and together, we all help each other deal with our challenges and struggles, and ideally provide one another with the motivation and inspiration to keep going.


Your Support System Matters

To understand how a sober companion functions, it’s important to understand the importance of a proper support system. A sober companion is a professional trained to keep you sober, most often to help after rehab to keep you on track long enough for sobriety to set in permanently. But a strong support system is just as important and will keep you set for life. That does not mean just surrounding yourself with people who support you – it means integrating yourself with a community or group that cares about you, and that you can care about. Be a part of something bigger than yourself, from a functional family to a sports club or a group of another kind.

It is also important to weed out relationships that actively hurt you and your recovery. Separate yourself from people who doubt you, pull you down or enable your addictive tendencies. For many, that means cutting out a large portion of their social circle – but this is for the best in the long term.


Making Sober Friends

Keeping a sober companion in your employ for the rest of your life means you’re not moving past treatment into a steady sober life. The goal of every tool in the recovery arsenal is to teach you to live life free from those tools. Some things will stay forever – lifestyle choices, like eating healthy and staying sober, are prerequisites. Other things, like attending treatment programs and meetings, may fade with time.

But one thing that must stay constant is a solid support group. Sober friends are the best way to take care of this. Many people find themselves in a position in life where they can’t confide anything to anyone except their own therapists. But a friend you can trust, one you can tell anything and help with everything, is a truly rare and special thing. And it’s something you should pursue in both life and recovery. Having a sober friend at your side can help you both keep each other from using again and support each other when things go wrong – without the help of a professional.


How Can Mentorship Help After Sober Living?

Sober Mentorship | Transcend Recovery Community

The point of mentorship is to define a path for someone, and to give them a light to shine through the darkness. They exist to cut through the fog, bring clarity to uncertainty, and provide the kind of guidance that lets a person grow without robbing them of the pain and challenge needed for growth.

In addiction treatment, sober mentoring provides that same function, in a professional setting. For millennia, humans have existed and co-existed, passing knowledge on through tutelage, training, and mentorship. Overcoming addiction is as much a matter of willpower as it is a matter of knowledge – and who better to train someone to overcome their own addiction than someone who has done it before.

But to understand the good a sober mentor can do for someone in the early and middle stages of recovery, it’s important to understand what sober living is, and why it plays a role in a crucial part of the recovery timeline.


Explaining Sober Living

Sober living is a treatment philosophy that emphasizes recreating an honest and realistic setting for tenants to live out the every day responsibilities of life without the temptation of drugs. Tenants are asked to pay rent, have a steady job/go to school, and engage in community activities and events, while having individual and group therapy and regular drug testing. Drugs and other illicit substances are strictly forbidden in sober living facilities, and tenants can stay if they like.

The point of a sober living community is to replicate the challenges and difficulties of real life, letting tenants explore the stressors and confront their responsibilities without the temptation of falling back into old habits. For many, this is invaluable – it teaches them self-sustainability and gives them the tools they need to fight their cravings and focus on the task at hand.

Sober living facilities are traditionally a perfect fit for people looking for an intensive treatment program after their initial treatment from addiction. Many have trouble transitioning back into the real world after residential treatment. Adjusting to the world after rehab can be difficult, and sober living is meant to ease people into that world without the risk of relapse.

It’s not perfect, of course. A sober living community is still an addiction treatment center, and the outside world brings with it many old memories and more powerful triggers for cravings and the like. The solution is to continue your treatment, but in a way that remains minimally invasive and allows you to face the struggles of sobriety in the real world head-on – by having a sober mentor.


Professional Mentorship vs. Sponsorship

Support in recovery can come in many forms, and one of the more classic forms is the sponsor from a group meeting. Twelve-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous have been around for decades, espousing the importance of keeping away loneliness by facing addiction in pairs and groups.

Yet there is a marked difference between having an assigned sponsor and a sober mentor. Sober mentors are professional therapists with a background in addiction and sobriety, a passion for treatment, and a long repertoire of treatment methods. They act as your mentors to living life in sobriety, equipped with a greater understanding of addiction than most people, and an emphasis on how every individual can experience recovery in their own way.


The Mentor-Mentee Relationship

The mentor-mentee relationship is a professional one, but that does not mean that it cannot result in friendship. It’s critical to be in therapy with someone you like and can trust – and this is even more crucial when picking a sober mentor. Sober mentors are not just people you call when you have a problem, or therapists you check in on once a week to get some peace of mind. Their job is to help you on every step of the way throughout early and middle recovery, giving you advice, watching your progress, and telling you off when you’re about to do something regrettable.

Life can become drastically difficult out of nowhere. No one in the world has perfect control, and anything could happen to plunge us into misery and make our old habits look extremely attractive. Fighting against temptation when motivation is extremely sparse is just one of the many things sober mentors tackle with fervor. At the end of the day, they’re not just a potential friend. A sober mentor is a coach, someone with the energy and the insight you need to look yourself in the mirror and understand where you want to go, even when life is at its dimmest and grimmest.


Becoming A Mentor

Research shows that giving is better than receiving, not only from moral viewpoint, but from a psychological one. Giving to others can have a profound impact on you, especially when what you give is a meaningful service. This is an important lesson for people in recovery, because it helps support the idea that if you’ve gone through addiction and survived recovery, then the personal insight you have, as well as the general knowledge you have accumulated, can be invaluable for people struggling with addiction and looking for help in early recovery.

Treatment is hard for everyone, and everyone struggles in their own way – but one person’s struggles can be inspiring, insightful, or helpful to another person, if only to provide a fresh perspective and to motivate.

The first step to becoming a sober mentor for others is to be confident and happy with your own sobriety. The second step is to develop a passion for helping others in the community achieve their sobriety and maintain it. And finally, there are programs and certifications for achieving professional mentorship status that help you further your knowledge on treatment applications, family dynamics, crisis prevention and intervention, motivational techniques, psychology, and addiction science.


Recovery Is An Ongoing Process

Sober mentorship proves that the recovery process is an ongoing one. Even after treatment, there are many obstacles that make staying sober incredibly difficult, from triggers to unexpected circumstances and unforeseen challenges. Life is full of curveballs, and regardless of whether you catch them or dodge them, dealing with them straight out of treatment can be difficult.

Sober mentors and other professionals work to help guide you through the first few months and years after treatment, setting you and your friends and family on a path to keep the addiction in check forever.


What Can a Sober Mentor Do for You?

Sober Mentor | Transcend Recovery Community

Sobriety is an individual state – it’s something you have to trigger on your own, maintain of your own volition, and pursue with your own agency. If someone pushes you to get sober, it won’t last. If someone gives you an emotional ultimatum to get sober, it won’t last. Even life itself cannot force you to get sober – until death takes you. And even then, you wouldn’t be sober. You’d just be gone. It’s on you to get sober and stay sober – but there’s more to sobriety than taking step for step on a lonely road. You have to do the lifting and make the decisions, but you can do so with a sober mentor or someone by your side, encouraging you, reminding you, helping you do the things you need to do the most in order to stay true to your own promises and live out the sober life you might have longed for.

That is what a sober mentor initially represents – the person in your life who helps you stay sober. But the keyword here is help. Help is always important. We need help, and support – not just as recipients, but as senders. Helping and supporting others can be extremely fulfilling – and in much the same way as you might need the help of a sober mentor to get through the toughest times of your recovery, someone will one day need you. Or maybe they already do.


What Is A Sober Mentor?

A sober mentor is a professional. They begin with the experience and the passion to help others – and then they follow that up with training. Sober mentoring programs exist for individuals who have gone through life facing their own hardships and challenges to meet and help people struggling through many similar challenges on their own road to wellbeing.

Sober mentoring is more than a sponsorship program, and it differs from many other programs. In a sense, it’s a one-on-one relationship with a transitional goal in mind – moving from a healing environment like a recovery community back into real life without losing hope or falling out of established sober habits.

Sobriety is not necessarily difficult to achieve. Many people stop using or drinking, and the motivations for doing so do not have to be particularly powerful. The struggle begins when a person has to actually keep up that sobriety, for days and weeks and months. Life is not streamlined, simple or idyllic – it’s messy and harsh, more so for some than for others. Withstanding life on your own two feet is hard enough but doing so while staying sober after months or years of substance use can be gut wrenchingly difficult, and seemingly impossible.

Sober mentors work to open your eyes to the possibilities of a prolonged and permanent sober life, one that makes you strong enough to face all of life’s challenges, including even the most tragic setbacks.

The sober mentor has multiple responsibilities, including keeping schedules for their clients, helping them emotionally and psychologically, collaborating with the client’s other treatment options and with their friends and family, and being skilled in crisis management, interventions, and more.


The Mentor/Mentee Relationship

If you don’t like your therapist, you’re not going to get much out of therapy.

This holds true for sober mentorship, as well. A sober mentor is a qualified professional doing their job – but that does not mean that they have to be cold or unfriendly while doing so. It’s important to find a mentor you’re comfortable with, someone with whom you share chemistry.

Beyond that, the mentor/mentee relationship may be one you have to prepare for. The first most important step is to establish within your own mind that you truly want this. A sober mentorship is voluntary – it isn’t a program that should be hoisted onto someone if they’re out of control, but rather it should be something a client decides to choose is best for their transition from a recovery community to regular living.

As such, prepare by considering how you want to incorporate your mentor into your life. Sober mentors are not sober companions – they usually do not get paid large sums of money to live with you and stand by your side 24/7. Instead, they may be available on a regular basis, meeting as often as you are comfortable with, and under certain emergency circumstances.

Decide when and how often you plan to meet, and what you want to accomplish with this relationship. Is your primary objective a smooth transition into a new job? Reconnecting with family? Staying sober for six months straight? Try and consider what matters most, and why.


Sober Mentorship In The Long-Term

Sober mentors can be both friends and professionals, yet speaking in concrete terms, sober mentoring is a service that is meant to be temporary. While some individuals might only need this sort of intense professional help for a few weeks, others can spend months or even years struggling with their addiction and various treatments.

The long-term view requires sober mentors to both focus on the now and provide tools that help clients deal with their own issues in the future, as well as working with close relatives and loved ones to help them understand what they might have to do to help the client prolong their sobriety and maintain it throughout recovery and beyond.

Choosing a sober mentor can help a person overcome the hardest, most challenging aspects of recovery – the early recovery period, when the cravings are the most powerful and the memories and emotions are at their strongest. But after a certain period of time passes, it is time for a client to move on towards a more independent stroll through recovery. While we all need support from those around us, seeking professional support forever is not a good sign of progress through recovery. The aim for sober mentors is ultimately to make their own existence in a client’s life obsolete, preferably as quickly as feasible depending on the client’s progress.

What Makes Staying Sober After Recovery So Difficult?

Staying Sober \ Transcend Recovery Community

Many people who have gone through the years and therapy needed to overcome an addiction will tell you that it can be horrendously difficult to admit your addiction, and then take the necessary steps to seek help, find support, forgive yourself and beat withdrawal. Many more will also tell you that, as hard as all that is, it’s just the beginning – and the biggest challenge will ultimately be staying sober long after the treatments are over.

In many people’s eyes, recovery is the period after addiction when someone decides to seek treatment, and undergoes at least an entire program getting their life together and going “back to normal”. But the thing is that this is a misconception. There is no such thing as normal, and there will never be a template life to go back to. When you go through an addiction, you can overcome it and change your life for the better by staying sober – but you won’t go back to living how you did in the past.

When treatment ends, life will be very different from how it used to be before the addiction. And no matter how much time passes, you still have to live with the memories of the feeling of addiction, and the things you did.

Coming to terms with that while staying sober and finding a way to live with and live past the temptation is the real key to beating an addiction in the long-term – and understanding why is important to explaining why staying sober is so difficult to maintain, even after treatment.


Staying Sober: Defining Sober

Sobriety is not abstinence – rather, it is having a clear state of mind. That means not just skipping out on your drugs of choice, but it also means skipping out on alcohol and every other drug, and for many people, it means skipping out on any medication that affects your mind unless medically necessary. To be sober, you have to not be using.

Maintaining your sobriety can be torture at first, which is why treatments and programs exist to make the journey a little easier, and help work you through the challenges as they arise.

But people make the mistake of thinking that once the treatment is over, the temptation and the cravings magically disappear. They don’t. Instead, you’re meant to use the time and resources given to you during treatment and recovery to amass a set of tools to work with in times of stress and need, to fend off temptation, fight off cravings, and work on staying sober.


The Temptation Of Addiction

The reason addiction has such a radical and long-term hold over the human mind has to do with both a set of psychological reasons, and a set of physiological reasons. These reasons are intertwined.

On the psychological side, an important part of recovery is seeing it not as a treatment for addiction to be excised out of your life, but more as a training for how to deal with addiction, and beat it into obscurity within your life. This takes several steps, the most noteworthy of which is self-love.

This has nothing to do with spirituality, self-motivation, or surrounding yourself with people who love and adore you. It’s not about amassing massive wealth, success, and fame. It’s not about becoming the perfect human.

It has to do with staring into yourself in front of a mirror, and making conscious decisions to turn into someone who is true to themselves, and likes it. Sometimes, you may have to make changes. Other times, you may have to learn to live with, and even love certain aspects of yourself.

Only then, when you’re independently okay with who you are as a person and don’t need to seek validation from others or from outside objects and titles, will you be able to completely embrace sobriety without a shade of doubt. This is because addiction feeds on doubt. It feeds on insecurity and fear. It feeds on worry and stress. If you can’t be happy with yourself, then you won’t be able to live a happier sober life – and the temptations will stay.

The physical reason why addiction is so difficult to overcome is that it warps the pleasure center of the brain, completely changing the way we perceive joy and euphoria. Things that used to bring people happiness – like their hobbies – fall out of favor, while the need for the drug takes over.

Rewriting that takes time, because the stimuli of drug use cannot be beaten. Overstimulation of the brain’s pleasure center is essentially why it gets warped, and recovering from the effects of drug use and staying sober can take years.


Losing The Routine

Every drug recovery treatment plan has a routine. Routines are helpful when fighting an emotional or mental battle – they help make life simple, give us something to do, and take away time that might otherwise be spent thinking about or doing something harmful.

The structure that a routine can provide also gives people a daily pattern to adhere to, and return to when things go wrong. A big part of struggling with sobriety outside of the confines of a treatment center or sober living environment is the fact that the routine often eventually falls away, and with it, the sobriety can suffer.

You don’t have to have the same routine all the time, but be sure to bring structure to your life. When the stress begins to knock down your routine, don’t let it all fall into disarray. Adapt, accommodate, and stay strong.


Why People Struggle With Relapses

Relapses occur astonishingly often, at least in the eyes of some. Others might recognize that a relapse is nothing to fear, and may even be considered part of the early recovery process for most people.

Having a relapse can be damaging to your overall progress, especially as it resets your sobriety counter – but that does not make it the end of your chance at staying sober, or worse, spell out your doom. A relapse is not a failure. It is just another experience with addiction, and an opportunity to learn and do better.

Through relapses, you can mark periods and triggers in your life that bring you closer to addiction and the cravings, and find ways to be more vigilant of these factors and avoid them or work around them. No matter how large your setbacks are, the most important thing is to keep moving forward and continue on the path to lasting sobriety.


What Are the Advantages of Recovery in a Sober Living Community?

sober living

While addiction can be treated in many different ways, there is a universal applicability to a sober living community because they’re more than just a treatment method.

Therapy, rehab, partial hospitalization, and outpatient treatment – there are a lot of ways to help someone deal with the ramifications of addiction and return to a semblance of normalcy and sobriety. However, these treatment tools fail to do one thing as effectively as a sober living community: teach self-sufficiency in sobriety. Ultimately, after a debilitating disease, every patient longs for the day when they can cut loose their crutches. Stand up out of the wheelchair. Use their limbs again. While many treatment centers help residents learn how to deal with sobriety in the real world, it is a specialty in sober living communities.

Addiction can be disabling, sometimes on a mental and emotional level and sometimes on a physical level – and overcoming the effect of years of addiction takes more than a few weeks in a treatment center. Even a 12-step program is limited by its ideology and function as a group therapy tool. A sober living community is not meant to be a treatment method, or even just a facility for early recovery – it’s a place where people come to learn how to live again, and learn how to enjoy being alive again, without drugs. It’s a place where you can become in-tune with your own needs and wants, grow conscious of others, and become part of a community rather than being stuck with yourself.

The advantages of a sober living community are numerous – but before one can delve into why, it’s important to understand what a sober community is.


What is a Sober Living Community?

Sober living communities are defined by their ruleset and setting. A sober living community is a community, for the most part – composed of either one building or several homes on private property, it is a tightly-knit, controlled environment where residents can live to guarantee a safe early recovery environment, and stay sober outside of temptation.

Not unlike a homeowner’s association, a sober living community has some established ground rules that must be respected in order to live there. For one, everyone must pay rent. Every resident must also either work, look for work, or be in school. Random drug tests are part of the safety measures implemented to ensure that no drugs are available on community premises, yet otherwise, every member’s time and privacy is valued.

In some communities, it is mandatory to join a number of activities with other community or home members, in order to build a real relationship with others. In other communities, this is left for the resident to decide.

By and whole, every community has the same aim – to create an environment that is as close to real life as possible, simply with more stringent controls to prevent drug use or the temptation thereof. Some communities give residents extra things to do, including house chores and cleaning work as well as curfews, in order to provide both a sense of routine and establish a schedule. These things help residents who struggled with addiction find something to hang onto, a pattern they can use to get back into recovery if a relapse occurs.

Sober living communities have both an individual and collective focus. On one hand, they often offer and further encourage people to seek therapy and treatment, either through the facility’s own treatment options, or outside. Beyond that, sober living communities are a community, and thus invest a large amount of time and resources into organizing group events and outings, group meetings, and group activities.

When a rule is violated, the punishment ranges from paying a fine and apologizing, to being sent out of the community. However, relapses are rare as most sober living communities are meticulous about their security, to prevent any substance abuse on-premises.

Sober living communities are often split into men’s sober living and women’s sober living facilities to provide further comfort for the residents.


Leaning Back into Life

Ultimately, the main advantage to a sober living community over a residential program aside from the overall cost is the fact that a sober living community better simulates real life and gives you a greater opportunity to adjust to the responsibilities and difficulties of struggling with both recovery and living life again.

Make no mistake – no matter what you do, you’ll never go back to the same life you once had. Addiction changes everything, including you – but that’s a good thing. Take this as an opportunity to grow like never before, and reshape yourself and your life into something better.

Yes, addiction and addiction treatment will cost both financially and emotionally, and recovering from these traumas won’t be an easy task. But it is an opportunity to seek out new ways to cope with stress, find a line of work you’re truly interested in, and approach your family and loved ones with total honesty and ask for forgiveness.


Maintaining Sobriety Outside of the Community

Sober living communities typically don’t have a time limit – which is part of why they are effective. While many other programs are meant to be completed within a certain time period, including most rehab and residential programs, a sober living community can be a useful tool for the first few weeks or months of recovery. However, at some point, it’s time to move out of the community and into a life where many of the same safeguards against drug use no longer exist – especially for legal drugs.

Maintaining sobriety outside of the sober living community is easier than with other treatment facilities or options. The routine and scheduling build into sober living treatments allow residents to embark on their new lives with a better sense of time management, useful coping skills, and the self-discipline needed to work hard without the constant sense of temptation coming from their old days of addiction.

It’s true that, in general, the temptation doesn’t go away completely. There’s always something that lingers from addiction – but with the right toolset, your family and loved ones, and the relationships formed through staying in a tightly-knit sober community, you’ll have nothing to worry about.


Is Addiction A Choice?

Dealing With Addiction | Transcend Recovery Community

Life is all about choices. The people we choose to be with. The things we choose to do. The words we choose say. At the end of the day, our lives and what we did with them are our responsibility, and it is up to each of us to live a life well-spent, and well-lived.

At least, ideally, that would be the case. But we can’t always take responsibility. Sometimes we must accept that certain circumstances led to a bad outcome, and that we must move on past through those circumstances to make the best of things.

If something goes wrong, it’s not necessarily your fault. But it may not necessarily be someone else’s, either. Sometimes, when there is no one and nothing to blame, the hardest thing is to let it go. When it comes to addiction, in most cases, there is no single thing or person to blame. Addiction develops over time, and the factors that cause it likely developed over years.

But there’s a fine line between living a life free from meaningless grudges, and living a life free from accepting any responsibility or owning up to your own mistakes. Mistakes and failures are a part of life, and often enough when something does go wrong, it is our fault.

When it comes to addiction, one of the many questions people have is whether it is one or the other. Is addiction a matter of circumstance? Or is it a choice people make, their responsibility? It’s a tricky question – but anyone who tackles the issue on a personal level must find an answer to it.


What Choices Mean To An Addict

Choice is critical. To be able to choose, not just based upon some sort of biological programming, but out of your very own reasoning, is important. We all need to be able to choose our beliefs, our partners, our actions.

But true free will – and the ability to choose beyond some predestined way of thinking – is difficult. One thought leads to the next, and most “logical” conclusions are the result of inevitable, and uncontrollable circumstance. As such, these reactionary choices are still choices, but the one’s were forced to make.

This his how addiction works. Your brain compels you to think a certain way, and the choices you make are in favor of that way of thinking. But that doesn’t mean you’re really choosing anything. You’re forced to act a certain way.

Choosing outside of these cravings is exceptionally difficult – otherwise, addiction would not be a problem to begin with. It doesn’t have to do with willpower. Instead, it’s a matter of motivation.

Someone who struggles with addiction may not have the motivation to stay clean. They may find themselves constantly being doubted, by others and themselves. Sometimes, people lose hope in their own recovery. People in recovery need friends and loved ones to remind them what they’re fighting for, and to keep that motivation ignited and that passion burning.


No One Chooses The Pain Of Addiction

Regardless of whether you find that people are responsible for their own addiction, the fact remains that most people who struggle with a drug do not want the pain of their addiction. They don’t want to fear relapse, or overdose. No one needs that in their life.

In fact, no one should need drugs in their life. It’s only when something is missing, lost or stolen when drugs become a viable option to help us fill life’s voids. Unlearning that, and relearning how to live a sober life and be free to fill that void with real living can take months and years – but people go through those journeys all the time, putting one foot in front of the other best they can, despite their own cravings.

That’s the true power of choice in addiction – it’s the choices we make to become better people, and recover from addiction. Those are the choices that, in the end, count the most.


Choice Is Important For Recovery

While most would say that they didn’t choose to become addicted, choice is incredibly important for getting out of addiction. Overcoming addiction requires you to choose to get better, and commit to that choice completely. Unlike addiction, which can creep up on you, the road to long-term sobriety is long and its pain is very noticeable.

It starts with a simple and small commitment, such as wanting to get better. Then it becomes something more concrete, such as going to rehab, seeking the help of a known specialist, or joining a recovery community. Then it becomes a daily routine, a fight you must fight from sunrise to sunset, and beyond. Eventually, you’ll get past the painful stage, and you will begin to love live again.

Living life, the way it’s meant to be lived – without the cravings – can take some getting used to. But if you choose to get better on day one and commit to that choice – even through the failures and the hardships – there is always hope that one day you won’t feel like you need a fix when things get tough.


Blame And The Role It Plays In Addiction

Blame can be an incredibly destructive force in addiction. On one hand, blaming others will deflect the failure off yourself, and it will keep you from understanding the dangers of addiction, and learning how it can hurt others around you. On the other hand, blaming yourself too harshly will lead to another problem, wherein you may lack the confidence in yourself to stay sober, or even find a reason to.

Addiction is a terrible thing, and different people must struggle with completely different circumstances. But it’s always tough, and the last thing you need is to cast doubt on your ability to get better. While completely ignoring your failures is just as bad, being too hard on yourself can invite just as much trouble.

Try and find a way to continue believing in yourself, while acknowledging the work that must be done in recovery.


How Can Routine Help You Maintain Sobriety?

Maintain sobriety | Transcend Recovery Community

It’s hard to maintain sobriety – relapse rates will tell you as much. Addiction is more than a simple switch, to flipped on and off. Instead, it’s a gradual process that takes years or even decades to reverse. With time, it will become easier to deny your cravings. That, and people tend to become better at finding ways to live without drugs, no matter how tempting they may be.

However, getting to that point where you can maintain sobriety typically takes a long time. And in that time, the chances of giving up are very high.

Having a routine can help make it easier to overcome your cravings during early recovery, and help arm you with the tools you need to maintain sobriety in the long-term. We’ll explore why a simple routine can have a major impact on your ability to maintain sobriety in both the early recovery period, and over the course of your lifetime.


Consistency in Early Recovery

Early recovery is, if anything, inconsistent. First: the length of time spent in “early recovery” is different from person to person. Second: your mood may improve drastically one day, and crash down the other. Third: staying away from drugs will be harder than ever. Yet your motivation to maintain sobriety will be strong and fresh as well. This creates a massive inner conflict spanning days, weeks, and even months.

Creating and following a routine during this period of your recovery can massively improve your chances of not just avoiding relapse, but also help you get back on track as quickly as possible and maintain sobriety.

This is because routines offer consistency, which is sorely lacking during early recovery. Through a consistent routine, you’ll have something you can hang onto in times of chaos. No matter how you’re feeling or what you’re thinking, you know that on Monday you’re scheduled you hit up the gym at this time, clean up around the house at this time, and make that for dinner at such and such an hour in the evening.

Routines give you a sense of normalcy with which you can more easily adjust to living at home after rehab as you maintain sobriety.


Taking Your Mind Off Things To Help Maintain Sobriety

It’s important to create a routine that constructively helps you. Don’t just bore yourself to death, or try and be as “efficient as possible”. Give yourself room to explore creative endeavors, go to new events and meetups, spend some time reading a new book, and squeeze in a short workout. Doing these things will help you take your mind off the cravings, and introduce new sources of fun and pleasure in your life. Meeting new people, exercising and exploring new interests or your inner creativity can boost your self-esteem as well, which makes an enormous difference in addiction recovery.

Eventually, drug cravings do diminish. Whether they can go away or not may depend on the severity of an addiction, but given enough time and dedication, any addiction can be overcome.

Some people rely on their family and friends to keep them on the straight and narrow, especially early on when the temptation to swerve off the path of sobriety is very powerful. Others take it upon themselves, taking up every class and activity they can to find that one thing to obsess over to beat out the urge to use, smoke or drink. A sober living home can also help if you feel like the extra support will work well. Whatever works for you, remember that consistency is key.


The Power of Coping

The difference between a healthy habit and an obsession is the way you approach the activity in your life. Many of the things we do for fun or entertainment are activities we use for coping with life’s challenges. A negative coping mechanism is one that makes your overall life worse. It detrimentally affects your mood and thinking, cuts into your ability to work or concentrate, and consumes your thoughts far too much.

A positive coping mechanism helps you deal with life’s challenges effectively. Instead of distracting you from your problems, it gives you the clarity, focus, and confidence needed to effectively address them.

Take exercise. An unhealthy obsession with exercise can quickly destroy your body, alienate you from your friends and family, and consume your entire life. It can cause you to spend far more money than you need to. You begin to mask your problems in life by addressing perceived imperfections in your diet, or training protocol.

A healthy coping mechanism is when you use exercise to work off stress, set realistic goals that avoid injury, and use your daily or regular training session to help you build your ability to focus. You set the time aside to train – but you don’t let it rule your life, or consume more of your day than the rest of your schedule.

This difference is crucial when determining whether a habit helps, or simply hinders your ability to live life – and maintain sobriety. You’re not trying to create a distraction, you’re trying to improve your ability to enjoy the day-to-day, and be happy with the important things in life – the work you do, the talents you hone, the family you love, the friends you hang out with, and whatever else may give you purpose and meaning.


What to Look for in a Sponsor

What to Look for in a Sponsor | Transcend Recovery Community

Anyone who is new to attending 12-step meetings with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) will be strongly encouraged to find a sponsor. A sponsor is someone who can guide a sponsee through the 12-steps, and someone who can support the sponsee for a period of his or her recovery from addiction.

If you’re at the point of finding the right sponsor for yourself, it would be wise to choose someone you can imagine having a supportive relationship with. The following guidelines are meant to point you in the right direction:

  • A sponsor should be working with their own sponsor too. Look for someone who has a sponsor themselves. Someone who has a sponsor will know what the sponsor/sponsee relationship is like. He or she will have a model for the kind of support that a sponsor gives to them. Also, someone who has a sponsor will know the ways that the sponsor has supported them, and in return can provide that kind of support to you.
  • A sponsor should have more experience in their sobriety than you. In fact, they should be secure in their sobriety and firmly rooted in living sober.
  • Your sponsor should be someone of the same gender. Those who are heterosexual should choose a sponsor that is not of the opposite sex, and the opposite is true for homosexuals. The point is that you don’t want a sexual attraction to get in the way of your growing recovery. Your sponsor should provide sober help, not take you out on a date.
  • Your sponsor should be well versed in the 12-steps. There are some in recovery who attend Alcohol Anonymous (AA) meetings, but who give the 12-step program lip service. If you want to find someone to help you “work the steps”, you’ll need someone who knows those steps well. Ideally, this is someone who has worked each of the steps in their own life and has experienced the benefits of doing so.
  • Your sponsor should be able to speak the truth to you, even if it hurts. A good sponsor will not hide what needs to be said. This is particularly important in recovery from addiction because denial is such a strong force prior to getting treatment. Someone who can speak honestly about what they see in your life can be hard to face but worth it if you really want to change.

These are some points to consider when looking for a good sponsor. If you’re going to really make this change in your life, then why not find someone that’s really going to facilitate this transformation for you.

At the same time, you might find that your sponsor/sponsee relationship grows to dysfunctional, unhealthy, or not useful anymore. Of course, you always have the option of choosing another sponsor at any point. In fact, one of the greatest advantages to getting sober is reclaiming your freedom and empowerment. And here’s a place to exercise that freedom. When you’re with a sponsor who is not supporting you the way that you need, find another one.

However, ideally, you’ll find someone that strongly encourages change in your life, not only at the start of your sobriety but throughout your recovery.


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The Benefits of Living at an Addiction Treatment Facility

The Benefits of Living at an Addiction Treatment Facility | Transcend Recovery Community

There is a wide variety of treatment forms to choose from when it comes to addiction. Of course, it depends on your needs. For instance, if you’re struggling with a severe form of addiction that’s significantly impairing your life, then you may need to live at a treatment center for a period of time. However, if your needs are not that severe, then perhaps an outpatient treatment center is better.

Exploring the benefits of a residential treatment center might help you decide upon the type of treatment you need. Of course, it’s best to discuss your options with a doctor, drug counselor, therapist, or psychologist. However, in order to help you weigh the options, below you’ll find a list of options that are non-residential.

Sober Living Homes / Halfway Houses – These are an extension of care for those recovering from addiction and who have already participated in and lived at a rehab center. At these centers, although patients live there, as they would in a traditional rehab center, they have significantly more freedom to be able to attend work, school, or family events.

Outpatient Treatment Center – At these centers, patients live in their own home but attend the Center at regular intervals for treatment. They might attend the Center for group therapy, individual therapy, drug counseling, or mental health treatment. Regular attendance to the Center depends on their need, and can be daily, weekly, or bi-monthly.

Community-Based Services – These are informal ways to get treatment, such as attending an Alcohol Anonymous (AA) meeting. AA meetings and others, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Overeating Anonymous (OA) are based on the 12-step model of treatment.

However, if you found that the above options won’t quite meet your needs, then you might strongly consider a treatment center in which you live with other recovering addicts. These are typically called residential treatment centers or live-in health care facility, also known in the drug-counseling field as RTC. An RTC might offer services such as drug counseling to address substance abuse, therapy to treat mental illnesses, and other forms of treatment to address behavioral issues. RTC’s often also address the issues of patients who have a dual diagnosis, meaning they have both an addiction and a mental illness.

Additionally, RTC’s also offer individual and family psychotherapy, medication, support groups, and strong communication among the psychiatrist, psychologist, family members, social workers, teachers, and other professionals an adult’s life. Ideally, there would be an integration of services between the psychiatric and the drug counseling fields in order to best treat an adult with a co-occurring disorder. Along these lines, some RTC’s are beginning to employ behavioral health therapists to ensure that behavioral concerns are well addressed.

Furthermore, there are also RTC’s that are gender specific. (Sober living homes and halfway houses can also be gender-specific.) When the opposite gender is not attending the same treatment center, patients can keep their thoughts and attention on their recovery without having romantic or erotic distractions. In addition to this obvious benefit, being with others of the same gender undergoing the same process can be supportive. For example, rooming with another individual of the same gender, attending group therapy with those of the same sex who have the same concerns, and working with issues that are specific to your gender can support the emotional and psychological growth that can take place during treatment.

Lastly, one of the greatest benefits of an RTC is that you are immersed in a sober living environment. You don’t have to contend with any issues at home, whether they are relationships, the presence of drug-using friends, or reminders of your life as an addict. In an RTC, you can fully and completely focus on your recovery. Having this kind of environment in the beginning is crucial to the start of recovery for most addicts.

These are some of the benefits of living at an RTC. However, be sure to consult your doctor or psychologist before making a final decision about your addiction treatment.


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