The challenge in sobriety is not only maintaining your abstinence from repeated substance use, but also finding a healthier and more effective outlet for your stress and frustrations. An addiction can often occur because of sudden and overwhelming change. Whether it’s trouble at school, at home, in the workplace, or in life in general, many are driven towards drugs out of desperation. When treating addiction, taking away that source of relief and release is a primary goal. And for many recovering addicts, those first few months spent completely clean can be the most challenging months they’ve ever had to endure. How do you deal with life’s challenges when your primary coping mechanism has been taken away, and it feels like nothing else compares?
That’s the focus of teaching people about sober living. To successfully overcome addiction, you must feel like you never need to indulge in drugs again, despite the cravings and despite the past. A good sober life is one that convinces you that sobriety is better than being addicted and indulging that addiction.
Surviving Early Recovery
Whether it’s spent in rehab or therapy, the first few weeks of recovery should focus on helping a person rehabilitate their body. Drug addiction takes its toll on a person’s organs and muscles, often coinciding with malnutrition and poor sleep hygiene. Helping someone detox, go through physical rehab, and get a few healthy meals into their system is important. Taking good care of your body immediately reflects on your mental state and can greatly diminish the overall effects of withdrawal and the emotional impact of early recovery.
After acclimating to the recovery environment, it’s time to tackle a person’s psychological problems. Even in the absence of an existing diagnosis or prior symptoms, long term drug use often leads to the development of depressive and anxious symptoms, often as a result of the long-term effects of drug abuse on the brain, as well as he accumulated stress that is often suppressed while addicted.
Every case of addiction is tackled individually through a multimodal approach, using what works to help an individual overcome their specific symptoms and circumstances.
It’s around this time that a therapist or psychiatrist might start working with a patient to not only identify that factors, events, and thoughts that led to addiction, but also help identify healthier coping mechanisms to manage stress and provide a physical and mental outlet. Sports, creative arts, and crafts are all common examples, and everyone has something else that seems to work best.
Finding a Focus
It’s not easy to discover your passion if you haven’t found it yet. Some addicts abandoned doing the things they loved due to their addiction. Recovering addicts may be encouraged to pick up old habits and hobbies, and step back into their old passions with a reinvigorated interest and new goals in mind. Others feel their passions led them to addiction to begin with and need something else to work through the challenges they will encounter in the future. When looking for a hobby, it’s important to start somewhere. Try out for local classes and meet up with interested groups, watch related videos, practice at home, and approach every potential interest with vigor.
It might be jogging, swimming, or contemporary dance. It might be cooking, wood working, or welding. It might be lifting, martial arts, or painting. It might be something you can make a living from. It might just be journaling in a diary to keep track of your thoughts and worries and manage them through prescribed written exercises.
Having a focal point during recovery is helpful for a number of reasons. For one, it’s healthier to track your progress through how well you’re doing at something you’ve discovered for yourself, rather than tracking your progress through days or weeks spent sober. Secondly, it provides a much-needed way to deal with the stress associated with early sobriety, including difficulties with social interaction, powerful cravings, the pressures of finding and maintaining employment, various social and financial responsibilities, and sobriety itself. Thirdly, habits build routines, schedules, and stability. It’s critical to have a sense of structure in your life during recovery. Lastly, sober living is as much about not doing drugs as it is about being happy enough to not care about them. The key to that level of contentment can only be found when you truly give your all towards a goal you’re heavily invested in.
Don’t Stop Looking
One hobby is good, but just as we’re creatures of habit, we’re also ultimately creatures prone to boredom. Routines are good, but we need to change things up to remain invested and interested. Even masters at their craft only ultimately stick to what they’re doing out of their own sense of curiosity as to how they might be able to stretch the limits of what’s possible, challenging themselves creatively to remain interested. So, continue challenging yourself, and seek out new and different ways to apply your physical, mental, and creative abilities. Or, draw inspiration from your various unique experiences as a way to continuously improve in your true passion and focus. Just keep looking.
More Than One Person
Any given case of drug addiction is ultimately about more than just one person. Behind every person is their friends and family, fellow people who were a part of their journey, who either enabled their habit, or tried their best to help, who were all affected in one way or another by the drug abuse, and who ultimately have a role to play in shaping that person’s recovery and long-term future. Recovery might be a journey you have to start, but it’s not one you walk alone. And learning to recognize the importance of asking for help from your loved ones is a big step in overcoming addiction and all its ills.
When times are tough, when cravings become overwhelming, and when you feel like there’s a good chance you’re standing over a very big abyss, don’t be afraid to call upon your loved ones. And in the best of moments, when everything is going well, and when you’re finally aware of how far you’ve come, don’t forget who helped you get there, and find your own way to express your gratitude to those who supported you.