Living a Sober Life Isn’t as Scary as You Think

Living a Sober Life Isn't as Scary as You Think - TRC

If you’re worried about the challenges involved with living a sober life, you may be interested to learn there are a few things you can do to prepare. The more you understand about the process of the recovery journey, the more likely you will succeed.

In this article, we’re taking a closer look at why living a sober life isn’t as scary as you think.

Living a Sober Life Isn’t As Scary As It Seems

The thought of change is uncomfortable for most people. When that change involves giving up the crutch of drugs or alcohol, that uncomfortable feeling can escalate into fear, dread, and avoidance. You may fear the physical symptoms of withdrawal. You may be afraid that you will lose your current friends, or not be able to cope with the emotions that surface while sober.

While addiction can end up feeling like there is a lack of choice to be made, sobriety always involves a conscious choice. Taking steps to bring the compulsion to drink under control of your rational mind can provide you with the strength necessary to stop avoiding the problem, and to make the changes necessary to heal your life. The following are some of the rational steps to take toward the beginning, and maintaining, a decision toward being sober.

Here are a few things you can do to make living a sober life easier.

Name Your Fears About Sobriety

One of the most powerful tools we have against fear is to name it. Fear thrives on a lack of confrontation. It lingers in the back of our mind, whispering lies and prompting us to be worried about things that have not actually happened. Once we clearly identify our fears and give them a label, some of that influence is immediately diminished.

One of the major fears when considering a life of sobriety is that we won’t be able to cope with our daily life. Another is that we won’t have anything to look forward to on a daily basis, or that we will lose the drive to be social.  We may even fear that not drinking will take away our excuse for not making more progress in life. Whatever you find your fears to be, be bold, and call them out. They are already there, so they might as well get to know them.

living a sober life

Make a Pros and Cons List

Something that is often overlooked by those who want a person to stop drinking is that there are actually benefits that a person is receiving from continuing to drink. These benefits are usually short-term, and often come with severe risks, but they are desirable, nonetheless. If there were only undesirable effects, you wouldn’t keep drinking.

Rather than trying to pretend that those pleasurable aspects don’t exist, give them some space for acknowledgment. Perhaps you enjoy the way that alcohol helps you cope with the stress of your job. Maybe you enjoy the way that it helps you to be more social or more creative. Alcohol could be the tool that you use to forget, temporarily, about the mistakes that you have made in life or the bridges that you have burned.

Now, make another list. This time, list the ways that continuing to abuse alcohol is harming your life. It may be putting your job in jeopardy, or it might be a factor in impending divorce. It may be estranging you from your children or isolating you from important people in your life. There may be physical consequences of drinking which are already surfacing. There may be times where intoxication causes you to do embarrassing things, or to make poor choices.

Creating such a list is another step toward bringing your fears out into the light, and examining them for what they are. After listing your reasons for drinking, and your reasons for not drinking, it will be up to you to assign a weighted value to each factor. If you find that the cons about continuing to drink outweigh the benefits, you know you are ready to take your next steps toward sobriety.

Do Your Research

Fear also thrives on a lack of knowledge. Humans tend to fear the unknown. The best way for managing this fear is to arm ourselves with information. When it comes to sobriety, it helps to know what the process of obtaining it entails. The internet is an excellent tool for obtaining such information.

Your process of getting to the goal of living a sober life will depend on how far into the pit of alcohol you find yourself. If your drinking has progressed to the point of experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms when you abstain, you will want to research the detoxification medications and methods that are available. If your alcohol abuse has resulted in loss of income, insurance, or housing, you will want to research your public funding options for treatment. And if you lose heart along the way, do research into recovery stories of others. This can help to boost your resolve and remind you that a life of sobriety is both achievable, and desirable.

Choose Your Treatment Options

Another fear that we tend to have is that we will be robbed of our autonomy once beginning treatment. You know yourself, best, and so are in the best position to determine what will help. Unless your alcohol problem has resulted in being mandated to treatment by the courts, you are in complete control of your treatment. If your first treatment selection doesn’t produce the best results for you, choose another one.

After arming yourself with some emboldening information about what the journey of sobriety entails, you will be ready to make some smart choices about how to go about eliminating your dependency on alcohol.

You may discover that you will be able to recover with minimal input from a weekly support meeting. You may decide that you are better off entering a medical treatment facility or signing up for a stay at a sober living home. Or, you might decide to benefit from entering therapy at your local mental health office.

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Develop Your Sober Social Network

Most people are afraid of being alone. Humans are social creatures, and we thrive in environments of loving support and acceptance. A lifestyle change as drastic as becoming sober can mean that our social needs change. We may need to rekindle lost relationships or may need to make a new set of friends.

Being a part of a treatment program can provide a jump start in this direction, as you encounter people with recovery values and engage in therapies to provide you with the tools for forming healthy relationships.

Conclusion

Now that you know a few things you can do to make living a sober life easier to approach, you can start your recovery journey with confidence. It

Drug Withdrawal and How to Handle It

Drug Withdrawal

If getting clean was easy, addiction would not exist. Addiction is a disease characterized by compulsive substance use despite clear harmful consequences. Unlike doing something out of bad judgment, malicious intent, or temporary ignorance, a person struggling with addiction struggles to stop when their behavior is becoming painfully self-destructive. This is what makes drug withdrawal so tough to overcome.

Among many reasons, one that stands out as difficult to deal with is drug withdrawal. When the body reaches a certain point of substance use, trying to stop causes you to become physically sick. Your body rejects sobriety, pushing you to start using again to feel better. You are compelled to oblige – or suffer through painful symptoms on your way to getting clean.

For many, this is nothing short of treachery. For others, it is almost like their bodies are telling them it is okay to keep using. Either way, withdrawal symptoms are confusing – because of addiction is so clearly harmful and involves gradually destroying your brain and harming your organs, why does the body insist that you do not stop using?

To tackle that question, it is important to understand addiction and the organ it affects the most.

 

Dependence, Drug Withdrawal and Tolerance

We have defined addiction as a disease of self-destructive behavior, but what triggers it? The answer lies in the brain. When a person introduces a drug into the bloodstream through their preferred method, it makes its way into the brain. There, drugs bind to receptors in the neurons – the brain’s cells – mimicking other neurotransmitters that the brain produces naturally. Then, the drugs take their effects.

Benzodiazepines and alcohol function similarly, for example. These are both depressants, which means they reduce certain nervous activity and brain functionality. The reason alcohol causes cognitive impairment and makes you “drunk” is because of its effects on your motor function, and your language center. In this sense, alcohol is like sedatives and tranquilizers, which were commonly abused in the past.

Cocaine and amphetamines, on the other hand, are stimulants. They drastically drive up the amount of dopamine in your system, making you happy, excited, and motivated. This can come at the cost of straining the heart and other organs.

Opiates are special, in that they combat and block pain – but they also boast incredible addictiveness.

All these drugs have something in common, and that is this “addictiveness”. A drug is made addictive by how the brain reacts to it – when you take an opioid, a shot of vodka, or barbiturates/benzodiazepine, you experience a high that leaves you feeling great, and then crashing. That first use is never enough to cause an addiction, but the taste does drive the brain to crave a second hit. Over time, as the hits accumulate, the experience becomes a compulsive need.

That’s where dependence kicks in. Chemical dependence is when the body needs its drugs to continue functioning, to the point where it will react violently – through painful drug withdrawal symptoms – to the absence of drugs.

Tolerance plays another role, as part of the brain trying to defend itself from the powerful effects of the drugs by adapting to them. Adaptation is the key to survival, and it is the key to our ability to grow, learn, and get stronger. But in the context of addiction, adapting to the effects of a drug means it becomes progressively less effective at the same dosage, requiring a higher dosage to elicit the same response.

Over weeks and months, this drives up a person’s risk of hitting their overdose limit, while pushing them further and further into a place where no other form of stimulation can bring them any joy anymore.

Dependence, withdrawals, and tolerance. First and foremost, drugs attack and alter the brain, and everything else follows.

 

Different Drugs, Different  Drug Withdrawal Sypmtoms

Just as drugs affect the brain in different ways, so do drug withdrawal symptoms differ from drug to drug. While nausea and muscle pain are common symptoms, some withdrawal symptoms are much more severe than others, while some symptoms are more common among certain drugs.

Severity is not necessarily tied to the drug, of course – while withdrawal from depressants is typically more dangerous than  drug withdrawal from stimulants, a heavy addiction to cocaine can still be very difficult and painful to break.

 

Always Seek Medical Assistance

Due to the nature of drug withdrawal symptoms as dangerous side effects of long-term substance use, it is a good idea to seek help at a clinic, rehab center or sober living environment before you attempt to get clean and go through withdrawal.

Having medical professionals nearby could save your life should something go completely wrong.

 

Looking Into the Long-Term

It is impossible to tell what the future might hold, but you can determine where it goes by your own hand and intent. Over time, your recovery will lead you to dark places mentally – times when the urge to use is stronger than it usually is. For many of those times, staying strong can be enough to resist a relapse. But do not try solely to rely on yourself. While recovery is your journey, there is no shame in asking for help – and if you want to get better, you will need all the help you can get.

By involving your family and your friends in your recovery and helping them better understand addiction and the struggle you are going through, you can tap into a support system that allows you to stay clean even when you feel like you do not want to. Discipline can take you far in recovery, but there are times when you need motivation more than discipline, and times when neither work, and you just need someone to hold you and help you heal and cope.

Tackling drug withdrawal, overcoming the ordeal, and coming out the other side determined to stay clean is a strong start. Be sure to take every advantage you can get moving forward, from joining group therapies to living in sober living communities, to working with your therapist and your family to create a better understanding between you all and find the support system you need.

 

 

Mental Symptoms Of Addiction & Drug Abuse

Mental Symptoms of Drug Abuse

The fight against drugs can manifest itself on your body in different ways. From weight fluctuation to flushed skin, open sores to tooth decay, there are a variety of unpleasant and sometimes very dangerous symptoms that suggest drug abuse and addiction.

Yet alongside the physical, addiction also attacks you mentally. It can tear at your personality, alter your behavior, undo your motivations, and change you fundamentally. You’re still you – but you’re suppressed under the effects of an addiction.

Identifying addiction within yourself or a loved one is never easy, and it’s safer to contact a professional and get a proper diagnosis. But there are several symptoms that may be cause for alarm, especially if they manifest simultaneously. If suspect you or your loved one are struggling with addiction, then don’t wait to get help. Talk to them or self-reflect and find the courage to seek a professional. Addiction treatment today has come a long way – you can get better.

It’s important to understand how drugs and drug abuse affect the mind not only for the sake of diagnosis and awareness, but to provide a better understanding of what addiction is, how it manifests, and why it’s a disease caused by circumstance, and not a consequence or judgment of character.

Drug Use and Cognition

Before your drug abuse begins to adversely affect your heart health and liver condition, it will affect the way you think and behave. From the very first hit, drugs change your brain’s chemistry – but that isn’t enough to cause addiction. Instead, you may be susceptible to more drug abuse, and with time, drug abuse begins to take a toll on your ability to think, reason, and discern. A rough overview of the cognitive and general mental symptoms caused by addiction include:

Drugs alter the way you think, fundamentally affecting your brain’s cells and structure. These changes aren’t permanent, but they do affect your thinking for weeks after total sobriety begins. This is why early recovery is often such a difficult part in an addict’s life, often wrought with emotional roller coasters and higher perceived stress.

Drugs and Mental Health

Because of the emotional volatility introduced by drug use, as well as its potency as a short-term coping mechanism, there is a common link between addiction and mental illness. Not only can addiction aggravate an existing mental illness or worsen symptoms into becoming a diagnosable condition, but people with mental illness are often drawn to drugs to cope with their condition, creating an unhealthy symbiotic relationship between the two. Drug abuse only feeds the illness and makes it even worse.

When a person struggles with a dual diagnosis, the answer is to treat them as an individual – addressing both diseases in the context of that patient’s experiences, rather than applying separate treatments for the mental illness and the addiction. Like physical and mental health, the two go hand-in-hand, and one affects the other.

The Long-Term Effects of Drug Abuse

In the long-term, drug abuse drastically affects your ability to think, reason, and remember. It screws with your motivations and your behavior, wiring you to prioritize drug use over other matters. It lessens your inhibitions and even increases your tendency towards taking high risks for relatively little reward.  

Additionally, long-term drug abuse messes with your sleeping, and your ability to remember the time of day, and have a proper schedule. Enough sleep and day-to-day routines are important for the human psyche and for our bodies and having a messed up sleeping cycle can affect everything from your appetite to your mood.

Mood swings also become more common as addiction goes along, as does irritability in between highs.

Thankfully, most of the cognitive damage and behavioral changes revert after about a year of full abstinence, and after 5-7 years, the brain is as back to normal as possible.

That doesn’t mean you’re “back to normal,” however. Developing an addiction, overcoming it, and living a sober life is quite the journey, and there’s a lot of personal growth to go through there. The person coming out at the other side will be wiser and mentally tougher – and if you make it through treatment and recovery, you’ll have a greater understanding of your mind and how to manage it.

Staying Sane After Recovery

Addiction has been described as a chronic disease, due to the fact that relapses can be quite common, and cravings can grow stronger in the face of stress. Because of this, it’s important to remember that no matter how long you manage to stay sober, the fight against addiction is a lifestyle choice rather than a single, prolonged battle. People out of recovery will have to be more mindful of stress than others – memories of the pleasant feeling of being high and carefree can resurface when you’re under a lot of stress.

That does not mean that people in recovery can’t stick themselves into stressful situations and come out the other end sane and sober. Instead, it means you simply have to pay more mind to these periods in your life, and counter them with applicable and personalized stress management techniques.

A big part of addiction treatment is not just helping someone stay sober for a month or two, it’s teaching them how to deal with the stressors of the outside world without resorting to drug abuse and use. You can cope with stress through exercise, art, music, dancing, writing, and more. Whatever it is that best speaks to you and takes your mind off things after a long day, get stuck into it and invest your free time into getting better, and making progress. Not only will this help you stay sane for years to come but getting better at something takes your mind off the addiction, the stress of a career, and the task of sobriety, and lets you focus on a completely unrelated and emotionally fulfilling goal.

Cravings and feelings may still surge even after years, from time to time. Knowing how to deal with them in an emergency, before a relapse happens, is crucial. Be sure to have a plan on who to contact and what to do when you’re close to the brink, and need something to help keep you from jumping back in. Even if everything goes wrong and you do relapse, it’s important to know that this isn’t the end of the world. Get back on the horse as soon as you’re able to. Go back into treatment, get onto a schedule, and work your way back to where you were, with a new lesson in mind.

 

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.

 

Finding A Purpose In Sober Life

Finding A Purpose In Sober Life | Transcend Recovery Community

No one can argue against the idea that sobriety is challenging for an addict. Struggling with addiction is more than a matter of choice or will – rather, it’s a medical issue, and sobriety involves an arduous and grueling rehabilitation and recovery period after treating the disease and transitioning to sober life.

To be sober means not to drink or use drugs – you can be sober for a day, or a lifetime. But when someone talks about sobriety, they usually refer to the commitment of continuing a sober life.

This abstinence isn’t just challenging because of the difficulties of early recovery, though, or because of the craving that drug addiction often leaves you with for weeks and months after treatment.

 

The Biggest Challenges Of Sober Life

Sobriety’s greatest challenge is the transition from relying on drugs to deal with life, to dealing with sober life. Addiction has several different meanings, but there are two overarching definitions: physical dependence, and psychological dependence. Either qualifies as addiction without further specification, but most of the time, people refer to physical dependence when discussing addiction as a disease.

In either case, struggling with drug use often means finding yourself in a position in life where things are doing downhill, and drugs become an effective coping mechanism for shutting out the pain and anger. Yet when drugs go away, the problems only become more apparent – and the only way out is through.

Getting past the initial few weeks of abstinence while dealing with the stacked consequences of addiction is what makes early recovery so difficult. The pressure to stay clean on top of a list of growing responsibilities can be overwhelming, and without proper support, it can be very difficult not to relapse.

But even with sober living support, making sober life better than your old life ever was is the key to staying clean. So how do you achieve that? How can you live a sober life more enjoyable and better than any high on earth? You do that by finding your purpose – and using it to stay on track, no matter how bad things might get. Of course, that’s easier said than done. But there are a few tips that might help you figure out what you need to do to continue your abstinence and overcome your fear of relapsing.

 

You Need A Goal

Everybody needs goals in life. Achievable, relatively short-term goals, and lofty life-time goals. These goals must be something you’re passionate about, hungry for, and willing to fight for. It might be a personal career goal, a sports goal, or an academic goal. It might be something you’re only a few weeks away from, or something that you’re planning to build towards for a decade.

Whatever goals you might have, sobriety gives you the chance to pursue them – and in pursuing them, you can guarantee your focus on living a sober life.

If you don’t have goals, then creating them might be a bit of a challenge at first. Begin with a form of self-improvement for which you have the time and resources. Something simple, like relearning an instrument you use and playing a single simple song, reading one book per week, or something similar. Whatever it ends up being, make sure it’s something you think you can achieve within a month – then make sure you achieve it.

 

What Drives You?

This is a question everyone must ask themselves at some point – and if they don’t know the answer, then their priority must be finding out what it might be. Life is unbelievably varied and complicated, and every individual has their own lot in it. You may never be able to see ahead into your own future, but you can decide what direction to steer towards. That’s why discovering your passion is important.

Some people grow up finding and dedicating themselves to their passion. They have their own stories about how they fell in love with a sport, a profession, or a goal, and they spend decades honing their skills, shedding blood, sweat, and tears to do the best they can, for the sake of knowing that they did it.

Yet most people do not find their passions so easily. Many only realize what they really want to do in life much later, past their youth. If you don’t know what your purpose or passion might be, then there’s only one way to find out.

 

Just Do More

Addiction robs us of time, money, and relationships. It can make people incredibly lonely and leave them struggling to stay happy. Yet with treatment, support, forgiveness, and therapy, you can get back on your feet and find the time in your life to dedicate yourself to living a better one.

Taking the time to try new things is imperative when your goal is to be happy with yourself. You may never know what your passion is until you discover it. So, take classes, visit new and strange places, learn new things, and be open for unexpected opportunities and fortunate happenstance.

Whether luck exists is something that cannot be quantified. But it is undoubtedly true that any given day is filled to the brim with opportunities that may change the way you live your life. You must keep your eyes open to catch them as they pass by, and never let go once you’ve found the right one.

 

Fueling Sobriety Through Passion

Setting a goal and reaching it is incredibly satisfying – it requires hard work and determination and has a powerful emotional and at times physical payoff. This is important for life in general, but it’s critical for sobriety. Addiction takes things from people, often including their pride and dignity. Most recovering addicts regret the choices they’ve made and the things they’ve done while addicted and feel ashamed or embarrassed. They may have strained their relationships with others, or they may have messed up with once-a-lifetime chances.

Getting out of that mental hole is important, because such negative thinking is conducive towards relapse and further problems. Yet to foster positive thinking, people need a win. Setting a goal and achieving it will give you the push you need to feel like you can go further, do more, and stay true to yourself. It will improve your self-esteem and your will to continue living a sober life, for the sake of the future.

The Community Factor in Sober Living

Community In Sober Living | Transcend recovery Community

The community factor might seem unrelated to addiction recovery, but studies have shown that the people you surround yourself with have a big impact on your mental health, and even your chances of relapse. More than a potential risk, there is also a case to make that the right community is preventative when it comes to dangers like relapsing or struggling with depression due to addiction.

Few treatment modalities make use of a healthy community of recovery purposes. Sober living homes are one such modality, being centered on the concept of living within a clean and harmonic sober community. Understanding why this works, and how it works, can give you further insight into addiction as a disease and as a lifelong challenge.

 

What’s In A Community?

A community is more than a collection of individuals. It’s a network of people. Much like how a whole is more than the sum of its parts, when people come together and form bonds, they are capable of awakening great things in each other.

Of course, communities can also cause harm, and they can be dangerous. Group mentality is a powerful thing, and it can help you grow as an individual, or twist your values and bring you to do regrettable things. Often, the people you surrounded yourself with played a role in your addiction, introducing or pushing you to using.

In a similar way, immersing yourself in a completely different kind of community can change your outlook on life, on yourself, and your future. It can turn the boat around, help you switch lanes, and overcome previously impossible tasks – including defeating your addiction. There is a reason teams function well together.

A community that lives together is an altogether different and even more influential thing. Spending day in and day out around the same people can have a tremendous effect on you, for better or for worse.

 

Why Your Surroundings Matter

Fundamentally, humans are social creatures. Much of our self-worth is based on many of our earliest memories and experiences with others, and of our perception and personality towards others. To put it in an abstract sense, we’re inherently shapeless and given form through the mirrors of other people.

In a more concrete sense, it means that we rely on each other to form bonds, share values, resolve conflicts, and co-exist. Without other people, we can’t function properly, and become lonely.

This matters in the context of addiction because how others imprint on us – especially in our formative years as young adults – can leave a lasting impact. One reason why addiction most commonly starts in the teens is because teens are most susceptible to peer pressure, risk-taking, and ill-informed decision-making. Peer pressure works on teens the most because they are the most eager to fit in and belong.

 

How Sober Living Improves Recovery

It goes beyond people and communities. Your surroundings matter – the conflicts, circumstances, and events around you can shape your mood and behavior. People born into health issues and poverty need strong coping mechanisms to stay sane, and addiction is a very powerful and harmful coping mechanism.

In the same way, your surroundings must play a role in your recovery. Rehab centers and sober living communities are built to be places of peace, reflection, and growth. They focus easing you into a way of thinking that allows you to overcome your addiction and keep away from the things that might cause it to resurface. They strive to promote positivity among patients and tenants, and help people create beneficial and long-lasting bonds with one another. These places are not meant to keep you in isolation, because isolation is not conducive to recovery.

But it only works if you let it. While we’re very adaptable, we do ultimately choose to let things get to us. Your surroundings will have a profound effect on you, but the effect depends on the person and their perspective. For addiction treatments to work, patients need to be fully cooperative and they must strive to stay sober. In the same way, once treatment is over, much of recovery is spent learning to look past the things that once drove your addiction, and instead learning to focus on reasons to stay sober and away from drugs.

The scenery you surround yourself with. The lifestyle you live. The people you interact with. All these things affect your sobriety and play a role in recovery. But you can’t forget that, once the dust settles and you’re on your own, your greatest power is the ability to choose and rely on your own choices.

 

It’s Still Your Road

Community is a factor in recovery as much as it is a factor in addiction itself. But you’re still your own person, and you still have the power to choose what to do with your life – and how to let things affect you.

One of the issues often outlined by critics of other community-focused treatment plans like AA is that they remove the aspect of responsibility and the power of choice from your arsenal as a person in recovery. Addiction treatment is not meant to make you feel small, but to empower you to take a new hold of your life and adamantly refuse to return to the old one.

Surrounding yourself with empowering, inspiring, and nurturing individuals can help keep you sane and sober during the bad days, and the tough days. But you’re ultimately the captain of your own ship, and recovery is a journey where you have to make each and every choice and own up to it. Sometimes, this can feel debilitating and difficult. At other days, it shines a light on your newfound strength as a sober person, unchained from addiction, and capable of defying old cravings and painful memories.

Until you find a way to be proud of how far you’ve come, and legitimately believe in your ability to progress further and put this chapter of your life to rest, you’re going to find yourself struggling with recovery and addiction. A good community is not meant to make you feel indebted or out-of-control, but rather, it should open your eyes to the things you have accomplished, and the good you have done.

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.

 

Living The Life: Beachside Sober Living

Beachside Sober Living | Transcend Recovery Community

To an outside, luxury rehabs and beachside sober living might look like resorts that “miss the mark” on what sobriety is supposed to be. They might look more like a vacation from home than serious treatment, and some resent that. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Getting sober is incredibly hard no matter where on Earth you get sober, but there are quite a few reasons why doing it in a good quality treatment facility is a much smarter move for your long-term recovery. This is not a vacation and getting started on sobriety will never be easy – but it does not have to be a painful start, either.

Sunshine, sand, sea breeze and a system dedicated to eliminating temptation and relearning level-headedness. Beachside sober living is just one of many countless options for supplementing and continuing your treatment past rehab, and there’s merit to the argument that it is the most crucial step.

 

What Is Sober Living?

Sober living first became popular when the rise of residential treatment programs revealed that the medical community was catching onto the importance of improving a patient’s environment in the hopes of defeating the addiction. More research proved that a person’s social network – the people they interact with daily – have a massive influence on not just their lives, but their addiction, helping them sway towards getting better or spiraling out of control.

Yet many residential treatment programs do not do enough to help patients stand on their own two feet out in the world in early recovery. They help a person go through withdrawal, survive the earliest recovery symptoms, and hand them the knowledge they need to better understand the disease and themselves – but the transition is still incredibly jarring.

Sober living housing traditionally offers a transition between rehab and the real world, a buffer period to help them adjust and prepare, and teach them to be with others again. Unlike most programs, sober living housing does not usually have a limit – people are encouraged to stay as long as they need to. Life in sober living environments is controlled to a degree: drugs are completely forbidden, and tenants are removed from drug temptations. Instead, they are given a long list of amenities, chores, events, and a few simple responsibilities, as preparation to adjusting to life outside of treatment.

Most sober living environments require tenants to have a job or seek out a job or continue their education while staying at the sober living facility. This, alongside a structured schedule and community-based lifestyle emphasizes how sober living facilities are built around helping tenants find their place in the community, fit in, contribute, and become productive through sobriety, anchoring their recovery in their accountability towards others, and the responsibilities they assume as they step back into their lives and into the lives of others.

 

Why The Community You Live in Matters

We’re never emotionally invulnerable. Every stressor life throws at us gets added into the mix, no matter how much we try to ignore it. And without a healthy outlet or coping mechanism, all that pressure will make you pop and go off. For people in recovery, that is never a pretty sight.

Understanding the dangers of losing it means it’s important to prioritize your mental health and happiness when trying to stay sober. And a big part of that is living in an environment that makes you happy and keeps you healthy. Perspective has a lot to do with it. You might feel miserable and alone in your apartment building, because you’ve been fearful of getting to know other tenants. Being a bit more open to the people around you might lead to interesting surprises, such as acquaintances and relationships you would have never guessed might happen.

Look around for things to do – things you enjoy. If you live in or near the city, then there’s bound to be a class you can join, a club you can sign up for, or a hobbyist meeting you’d be interested in. Live out your passions in a way that is conducive to healthy social behavior – get out there and use the things you know and care about to meet other people that share your interests.

Beyond perspective, it’s also important to cut out unnecessary and harmful elements. Your environment goes beyond just your physical environment, but your emotional one, too. You need a support system of friends and family – but if some of your friends and family do you and your recovery more harm than good, then you need to get them out of your life. Have a frank discussion with the individuals you feel pose a challenge to your sobriety, and either try to talk it out, go your separate ways, or drastically cut off communication and lead your life without them entirely.

 

Kicking Sobriety Off Right With Beachside Sober Living

The unique factor in beachside sober living is the beach – and the ocean. Beyond a pretty scenery and plus points for postcard-worthy pictures in recovery, there is a good reason to pick a beachside sober living treatment facility in a state like California – that reason is the coast.

Living near the ocean, even if briefly, has a positive effect on the body and the mind. While the ocean is a source of many human fears (from storms to tidal waves), it’s a bringer of a great deal more than just destruction. It’s a fact that living near a coast is naturally relaxing – not just because we think of vacation, but because the breeze and the tides are calming. Ocean views are incredibly therapeutic, the blue color of the sea has a natural calming power, and sea breeze in particular can soothe the mind. In a way, it’s the perfect storm.

This isn’t inconsequential to your sobriety. Early recovery can be a very stressful time, wrought with moodiness, temperamental changes, and more. Anything to help you relax and give you the perspective you need for a better, more helpful long-term outlook can go a long way, and beachside sober living is there to help you with that.

What Makes Sobriety Great?

What Makes Sobriety Great? | Transcend Recovery Community

Perspective is important in life. Perspective gives us a better reason to appreciate the things we have and let go of the things we don’t have. If anything gives us perspective, then it is hardship. And one of the greatest hardships is fighting against your own will to achieve a healthier, normal life. Addiction is a terrible disease, but it can give you some much needed perspective that you won’t find anywhere else – especially on matters of sobriety.

Many people take their sobriety for granted. But if you’ve ever been addicted, then you know how bad it can get – the blackouts, the pain, the lack of memory, the financial and emotional loss, the relationships you break along the way, the people you hurt without meaning to. For a while, you might pretend to believe that it’s something you’re only doing to yourself, but when someone gets addicted, a whole group of individuals are heavily affected.

But an important part of staying clean is realizing that it’s about so much more than preventing bad things from happening. This isn’t a punishment, and you don’t have to impose a penance on yourself. If you approach sobriety with this sort of attitude, then you will not get very far. Guilt and shame will only bring the addiction back harder than ever – and that will only make those feelings even worse.

The first step to realizing what lies beyond sobriety, is forgiveness. You’ll have to turn the other cheek to your own wrongdoings and apologize to everyone you’ve hurt – including yourself. When you’re confident that you’re ready to start being okay with who you are in your own skin, you’ll begin to realize that sobriety is a second chance at really living life – and living it in a way you can enjoy it.

 

Sobriety Means More Than Abstinence

Buzzkills. Boring. Lame. There are a dozen terms used to describe people who live life on the straight edge – and they’re all wrong. Not using drugs or drinking does not make life uninteresting, and if you need to supplement your life with drugs to experience anything exciting or out of the ordinary, then exactly what does that say about how you’re living your life?

Life itself is dangerous. It’s exciting. It’s risky. Every second we spend on this planet; an immeasurable number of things is going on. People are born and pass away, and change is constant. It never sleeps. Once you open your eyes to the possibilities right in front of you and realize that life is as exciting as you make it, you’ll never need another drop to feel entertained or excited.

Of course, getting there takes a while to get used to. Sobriety in and of itself is something to get used to right after addiction, but there’s so much more out there to see, experience, and remember.

 

Seeing Life In A Whole New Way

The first thing you’ll notice when going sober is that your head is a lot clearer. Alcohol and drugs affect your brain, and not just through addiction. Excessive drug use can and will lead to brain damage, effectively reducing your cognitive abilities – slowing down your thinking, your problem solving, and your ability to make decisions and observations, not to mention your memory.

In time, all that can come back to you – it’ll take longer for some than for others based on how bad the damage is, how healthy you are, and what your lifestyle is like, but skipping out on booze and drugs is a great start. With that newfound clarity comes the ability to think and be yourself again – and stay consistent in your decision-making, not orienting yourself after the next high, but towards any other motivations and priorities that you might have, such as your passions, your family, and your goals.

 

Skipping The Hangover

Another thing that makes sobriety great is the distinct lack of hangovers. No more waking up at completely nonsensical hours in the day, feeling like roadkill, with an insane headache and no recollection of the last six hours you spent conscious.

Every time you black out, you take a chance of not waking up again. By staying sober, you can give your body and your brain time to actively heal, and not feel the abuse of your drug use.

 

Making New Relationships

Relationships are practically impossible while addicted. Addiction is inherently self-serving, and if you’re struggling with it, you can’t give anyone else the time and attention they need to feel loved and cared for.

Healthy relationships are built on a foundation of giving – both partners give each other fully, dedicating time and putting effort into making the relationship work. Healthy relationships focus on common interests and iron out differences, settling disputes through compromise.

It’s not easy to make a relationship work while sober and in full possession of your faculties. It’s impossible while addicted.

 

Living In A Healthier, Happier Body

Drug use eats away at you, literally. Addiction will diminish your health, either through malnutrition or through the physical effects of the drugs you’re taking. We all know that alcohol causes liver damage, and that excessive smoking leads to lung cancer – but there’s more. Stimulants like cocaine cause a heavy strain on the heart, while opiates can lead to brain damage and even paralysis through accidental overdose. Alcohol also kills brain cells and is a general carcinogen.

A healthy lifestyle is integral to a solid recovery. You can’t just give up drugs, you’ll have to completely rethink the way you eat and move. At first, the transition will be jarring. But as your taste buds adjust and your digestive tract heals, you’ll come to fall in love with healthy eating. Old junk foods will begin to taste too sweet and too salty, and you’ll catch the nuances in foods you might have hated in the past or found too bland.

You might even find some love for exercise, depending on how you go about it. You don’t have to run your behind off on a treadmill if you prefer boxing, or dancing. And there are more ways than one to go about eating a healthy diet. After a rocky start, taking care of yourself a little will turn into countless benefits – you’ll feel younger, look better, sleep better, breathe better, and even think happier thoughts.

 

No More Lies

But perhaps the greatest part about sobriety is that you can vow to put the lies behind you – and turn over a new leaf of total honesty. Lying becomes a necessity early on in addiction, especially as you begin to lie to yourself about where you’re going with your habits and tendencies.

But the second you decide to do something about it, you set yourself on a path towards clearing up those lies, coming clean, and working hard to re-establish a bond of trust with those you care about the most – and with yourself. And that feeling is priceless.

Successfully Transitioning from Sober Living into Life Again

From Sober Living To Life | TRC

Addiction treatment has evolved over the years to grow and encompass an ever-increasing number of circumstances, factors, situations and needs. Addiction is not a disease that has a one-size-fits-all cure, and treatment methods have popped up to accommodate the varying needs across all patient types.

From people seeking a dedicated facility to attend treatment to those who need help while keeping their jobs and living with their families, addiction treatment had to be made flexible to adapt.

Since then, there has been a continuous trend of many people seeking options outside of residential/inpatient treatment, either to continue their recovery through outside means, or to find an option between inpatient and outpatient treatment, to eliminate the major difference that temptation offers.

Many treatment facilities work hard with clients to give them an environment conducive to supporting their sobriety. However, the transition from that environment back into real life can be jarring. Other treatment methods allow patients to visit on a regular schedule, while giving them the opportunity to live their lives. But this carries the risk of higher relapse rates, as patients must have the self-discipline to religiously follow their schedule, and the strength to resist drug cravings even at higher stress levels.

Sober living housing provides a grey between the black and white – a form of treatment that keeps tenants away from any temptation and in the company of fellow recovering tenants, while staying true to the responsibilities and challenges of life outside treatment.

 

What Is Sober Living?

In this context, sober living is a modality rather than a lifestyle. The end goal for any addiction treatment is to make the sober lifestyle a reality – but sober living specifically refers to a facility or setting wherein clients become tenants of a building or community, live according to a few set rules, and are encouraged to engage in community activities while tending to personal hobbies and obligations.

All tenants typically must be in school or have a job, or must actively look for either, and must regularly help with chores. There are curfews, mandatory meetings, and other standards, such as a zero-tolerance policy to bringing or using drugs in the facility, and regular drug testing. Different facilities use different methods and offer different extras – in some cases, rooms are shared, or tenants have separate facilities.

While most sober living communities are gender-specific, some are coed. Men’s and woman’s sober living allows participants to undergo their recovery in a comfortable environment. Prices are usually monthly, in the form of rent and other expenses, and most stay for about six months at a time. However, unlike some other forms of treatment, there is no set limit. Sober living communities encourage tenants to stay as long as they need to.

Sober living always implies an environment that is drug-free and built to encourage regular day-to-day living. The emphasis is less on regimented, dedicated treatment, and more on providing the perfect environment conducive to a healthy and sober lifestyle. While this allows tenants to get used to living in sobriety before transitioning into the outside world, that transition still must take place.

 

How A Sober Community Can Complete Your Recovery

Sobriety is the state of not being intoxicated. To be sober, you must not use drugs. In the case of addiction, not using drugs can at first seem like an impossible task – addiction is a disease that temporarily rewires the brain to crave nothing but drugs, prioritizing them over almost anything else.

But with time, your mind returns to thinking about things normally, processing life in a way that allows you to forcibly and consciously put your previous thoughts on the backburner, forever. Yet sometimes – especially in times of severe pressure, stress, or loss – the urge to use can come back in full force. It is times like this when not using becomes very, very difficult for many, as it seems like an immediate and simple solution to the problem at hand: pain.

The long-term consequences, as obvious as they might be to someone with a clear mind, become less clear when the mind is preoccupied with whatever caused the stress.

That is why recovery is a journey best had with other people. While everyone does ultimately have to make their own choices and dedicate themselves to their own sobriety, being among others and making social contact while you are in recovery can have enormous benefit. Research shows that the social factor in recovery plays an important role, as social support heavily discourages relapses. The idea is simple: when you have friends around during recovery, you are much more likely to rely on them for support, than the artificial high of a drug.

Sober living houses encourage the building and nurturing of a community more than almost any modality in addiction treatment. Through a sober living environment, you spend every day in a tightly-knit community, encouraged not only to live among and alongside other recovering addicts, but encouraged to regularly attend meetings and events that help foster a greater understanding of addiction and one another.

These relationships are not just vital to making life fun in the sober living facility, but they are vital to continuing to stay sober in the outside world. Life can be a bit much at times, but by relying on each other, we can continue to fight on even in the bleakest of times.

 

Learning How To Cope Through (And After) Sober Living

Sober living is about more than staying away from drugs. It is about finding ways to enjoy life for what it is, while taking care of responsibilities and obligations. People in sober living programs are encouraged to work/study, contribute to the community, and participate. In many ways, it helps people readjust to living life alongside others outside of any treatment setting, making the transition that much easier.

However, to successfully transition into real life after a sober living program, the most important thing is to understand the clear differences between the two: that is, the importance of self-reliance and community.

Sober living programs come with curfews, schedules, and requirements. In real life, you must set your own standards and live by them. By setting standards and goals for yourself, you can continue to uphold a balanced and healthy life and maintain your sobriety – even through difficult times. Sober living gives you the time to explore your triggers and build the right coping mechanisms to stay away from relapse – as well as know who to call when you feel trapped and tempted, and who to go to when you cannot be on your own.

Sober living facilities come with the benefit of staying clean by force – there are no temptations, no drugs to abuse. But ideally, a sober living setting will prepare you for a world with all these dangers and temptations, by giving you the toolset you need to steer clear of them even when the cravings are at their strongest, using rational thought and the support of your friends and family.