The Key to Maintaining Sobriety Long Term

Maintaining Sobriety

Long-term sobriety is the goal for anyone who endeavors to stop using drugs. Sobriety itself can last an hour or a life-time, or anything in between – but a short-lived sobriety doesn’t mean much if you find yourself stuck in a destructive cycle between costly treatments, painful relapses, and the guilt and emotions that accompany this switch in both directions.

But if it was easy, then addiction as a whole wouldn’t exist. First and foremost, it’s important to note that the key to long-term sobriety is not necessarily something that exists in the same way for everyone. Everyone has a key, but it’s entirely subjective, and there’s no way of knowing what your key might be. Furthermore, the key alone isn’t enough. There are several components to successfully remaining sober, and all of them are important. Which one is most important will depend entirely upon you.

We’re going to go through several keys and consider why each of them matter for long-term sobriety. As a whole, the basics are support, reason, and alternatives. While it might not start out that way, every addiction eventually turns into something a person can use to run away from their problems. It might start with a party or it might begin as a series of rash mistakes, but it eventually turns into something a person’s brain perceives as completely necessary to maintain sanity. That’s why support, reason, and alternatives matter.

 

Don’t Be in This Alone

It’s almost impossible to stay sober alone. Some might go so far as to blame loneliness and isolation for most cases of addiction, insofar that people start using drugs as a way to form bonds and connect with others, failing to do so, and instead only forming a bond with substances.

You need to decide on your own that you want to get clean – but you need the right help to stay clean. Friends, family, a partner – whoever you have in your corner, you need to be able to trust them and, just as importantly, they need to be able to trust you. That means telling them everything they need to know and entrusting them with your life at times. They’ll have your back and will be there to convince you to stay strong and continue staying clean on the days when you really don’t want to.

 

Keep in Touch with a Professional

Having a support system is important. You can call on them for help, rekindle and reform old relationships, and spend more time with the people you love. But professional help is important, too. Family and friends are who you call when you need the support, but it’s the professionals who help you sort out your own head and find your own path through all of this. A therapist or psychiatrist can help you identify why you began using, what makes you want to use again, and what you need to do to get both of these things under control. Some people get into drugs because something else is going on in their lives, and they want a way to deal with the pain. Others develop pain because of their addiction and continue to use as a way to cope. A therapist can help you untangle the mess that drugs has left behind, and help you make more sense of your situation.

 

Find Your Purpose

We all need something to do, and not just because we get bored. We’re meant to work together, matter to one another, and be useful within the community and within society at large. There’s an inner human drive to empathize and do good things – indeed, helping others intrinsically feels good, and that’s not just a social construct.

That’s why a purpose can help. Addiction often leaves people aimless, unsure of where to go and what to do. Life is difficult to return to after a long period of addiction, and guidance can help. Whether your purpose comes in the form of being a good parent, or pursuing a better position at your company, or quitting and going into a different line of work altogether. Through a purpose, we can find a reason to keep going even on the tougher days.

 

What’s Your Idea of a Good Time?

You need ways to let off some steam – ways that don’t involve vice and bad choices. It might sound irritating to go and focus on “healthier lifestyle choices”, but there’s more to it. Addictive drugs can’t be “replaced” in the same capacity – they’re some of the most potent and powerful psychoactive chemicals in the world, and the feeling of being high and wanting more fades but doesn’t disappear forever.

You don’t need another way to get high. But you do need ways to deal and cope with the stressors of recovery. From sports to games to dancing, you simply need a few ways to have fun.

 

It Does Get Easier

Maybe the most important piece of information for anyone to receive while going through recovery is that it gets easier a step at a time. It’s not necessarily a day-to-day change – some days things are better, and some days things are worse. But over time, you’ll notice that it gets easier.

The only way to survive recovery is to be surrounded with people who remind you that it’s not always bad, and that you can be strong and healthy. Another thing that’s crucial is to have a reason to be sober, and something to look forward to. A purpose to focus on, and something to hold yourself accountable for so even in your darkest hour, you call for help before doing anything you might regret. And, finally, it’s important to have fun. To let loose in new and healthier ways, find ways to cope with your stress, be around others and indulge in ways you previously couldn’t.

Over time you’ll realize that there’s more than one key to maintaining a long-term sobriety. Having a place to return to when things get really bad, like a sober living home, is important too. It’s when it all comes together that the future feels more certain.

 

Being Thankful for Your Sobriety

Thanksgiving Sobriety

Thanksgiving is historically a time to celebrate rare moments of understanding and peace between two completely different concepts, juxtaposed by uncertain circumstances. Transitioning from a life of addiction to committed sobriety can feel like a battle with momentary ceasefires at times, and in early recovery, it’s important to cherish each moment you spend feeling confident in a future where you can stay clean and sober.

But as the months turn to years, and the years pass by, it can be easy to take something like sobriety for granted. And when life’s challenges and frustrations catch the better of us, old temptations are always ready to try and claim another victim. Being thankful is not just polite, it’s important.

 

A Calmer Life

If addiction is anything, it’s tumultuous and without control. From one moment to the next, life pulls you from one miserable direction into another, and any attempt to beat it on your own gets thwarted by an inner voice that convinces you to give up, or cravings so intense that you can’t think of anything but the next high.

It takes more than one person to start the journey to recovery, so for anyone who made it through to a better, sober life, it’s important to reflect on the way there and think about all the people and all the factors that helped you along the way.

It’s because of all that, that you get to enjoy a calmer life. A life more in line with what you really want and wish for. A life that gives you the opportunity to make your own choices, live and breathe freely day after day, and never feel trapped in the same way again.

 

Better Mornings

Waking up from a long night out can at times be downright excruciating when you’re addicted, and it’s only worse the longer the addiction lasts. Drugs and alcohol can heavily dehydrate the body and place a huge amount of stress on your endocrine system and your brain, causing massive headaches, dry mouth, muscle pain, memory loss, blackouts, and many other unpleasant symptoms. For many, mornings because synonymous with the struggle.

That all changes when you start to adjust to sobriety. Sure, not every morning is a walk in the park. But you learn to be grateful and thankful for the peaceful mornings when you wake up earlier than expected, aren’t in a rush, and get to enjoy the first cup of coffee or tea with the sight of a rising sun. The smell of butter on toast, eggs in a pan, or pancakes, stacked and wafting through the kitchen. You get to have time to yourself in the mornings to prepare, wake up, and get ready for a productive day ahead.

Some days won’t be like that, and most days meld together. But it’s the days when we get to stop and appreciate all we’ve managed to change that are the most important – and ideally, you should take time to be thankful for every day.

 

Healthier Living

Quitting drug use is not just a sound choice mentally, but physically as well. For every month spent sober, your body has more time to heal from your time spent using drugs. From alcohol, marijuana and cigarettes, to cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and prescription medication – every drug leaves behind a trace in the body.

Drugs themselves are usually metabolized completely within a matter of hours, days, or weeks, but what’s left behind is the physical scarring and damage left by the drug use. The heart, liver, lungs, brain, and kidneys bear the brunt of the damage, alongside other organs like the skin and stomach.

Not only does quitting help your body rehabilitate itself, but you’ll also find yourself reinvigorated with an appetite for the healthier things in life. It might take some time – and you’ll still probably crave a lot of sugar and salt during early recovery – but as you get used to sobriety, you learn to appreciate the real joys of cooking for yourself, making something equal parts delicious and healthy, and finding yourself yearning for time spent alone exercising, or in a group.

Healthy living isn’t meant to be a chore, but a lifestyle you can maintain for decades. That means finding a way to live a healthy life you can truly love living.

 

A Real Future

Drug use is prohibitively expensive. Not only does drug use often tend to leave people struggling in debt or, in the worst of cases, reaching out past the law to fuel their obsession, but it’s also accompanied by the bottomless despair that fills you when you realize you’re struggling to see a better tomorrow, or any tomorrow at all.

The hardest part of early recovery is escaping that fear without the use of drugs. But with time, you learn to cope in better ways, and a better life begins to metamorphosize through your sheer efforts. Suddenly, you realize that all the money you’ve been spending previously looking for different highs is now better spent financing a more productive and healthier life, and a better future.

 

People You’ve Helped

It may be strange to think of being thankful for the things you’ve done for others, but it’s more important to think of it as being thankful for the opportunity to help others. Most people don’t quite realize it the first time around, but it feels good to matter to others. It feels good when people care. When you can look around and see that your life made a difference to others, that cuts deeper than anything ever well. The ability to leave behind a good legacy others will respect and cherish goes far and beyond every possible measure of physical wealth.

And for someone who struggled through the depths of addiction and worked hard to build a life around sobriety, that feeling of helping someone along their own journey can be incredibly rewarding, and it can be a potent way to hold onto and cherish your own sobriety. Giving thanks for the opportunity to matter in someone else’s life lets you reflect on the fact that, more than anything, we’re here to help each other, and it’s through one another that we get through this bizarre journey.

Finding Purpose in Your New Sober Life

Sober Life Worth Living

Sobriety might seem like a magic word, but it is very simple in its definition. It simply means not being inebriated. Being sober means not using drugs or alcohol and committing to sobriety means committing to a better life lived without the mental haze and the constant craving that characterizes an addiction.

You get to live a meaningful life, lived with genuine experiences, rich relationships, and the possibility at feelings of fulfillment and content, the kind you would never experience through any drug for longer than a few minutes. Where drugs are ephemeral, achievements of hard work and dedication last years, and the love and kindness of your friends and family last for a lifetime.

But how does one go from concluding a rehab program to living the kind of life that’s truly “worth living”? Firstly, no matter what your definition of an afterlife might be, every life is worth living to the end. But to make life enjoyable and fulfilling, we need purpose. People spend their entire lives chasing after dreams and aspirations to try and realize their purpose, and this question is much more philosophical than it is empirical. Purpose is meaning – it’s having a reason to do the things you do. It’s having a reason for getting out of bed. But many people settle for a single definition. They struggle to find happiness because their tunnel-vision led them to believe they only have one purpose.

Being a parent is a purpose. Being a lover is a purpose. Being a good leader, a good team member, a good artist, a good worker. Some people are driven by their work, others are driven by a goal, others are driven by the good deeds they do at home and throughout their community. Some focus on their children, others focus on the world – yet in each and every one of us lies the potential to find a purpose for living, and pursue that purpose with perfect clarity – meaning, without straying from sobriety.

 

Why Purpose Matters in Sobriety

Addiction is the result of many factors, and always has a list of causes. Yet many people initially turn towards drugs because they’re aimless, or their aims are misplaced. As drugs slowly disassemble a person’s life and hope for the future, purpose gets lost and thrown away – to the point of deep depression. With recovery and rehab, sobriety gives a recovering addict the chance to pick up a new purpose and continue to stay sober.

Through purpose, we can find a clear context for the day-to-day. Through purpose, we endure hardship and struggle through challenges, because we know that it’s worth it, in our own eyes. There’s nothing religious or fanatic about it – purpose is the pursuit of a goal that gives us meaning, or the adherence to an identity that gives us meaning. And by pushing forward, day after day, recovering addicts can ignore temptations and leave behind their days of addiction because they’re focused on living a better, much more meaningful life.

Purpose helps us be accountable to others, responsible for our own actions, and encourages us to strive for success in whatever shape or form we define it. But as much as purpose is what helps us drive through every hardship, we need to remain open with our perspective. Keeping a closed mind to other opportunities and losing sight of the potential meaning in our lives because of a failure is not a good way to live.

Take two children who grow up as dreaming athletes and arrive on the regional stage. Both fail to qualify as national athletes, and both try again and again. One succeeds, and their hard work helps them fulfill themselves. But the other doesn’t succeed. Does that mean they’re invalid? No. It means they need another purpose. We can’t always succeed, and none of us really know what we’re supposed to do until we actually set out to do it and find out if it’s the right thing or not. It’s up to every single individual to figure out when to push on and when to give up – and much more importantly, it’s up to each and every one of us to pick up the pieces and find another purpose after failing.

As a contemporary example, take actor Dwayne Johnson. A talented athlete, he aspired to become an NFL star, but never made it due to an injury that sidelined his career. Determined to figure something else out, he pushed his father to train him as a wrestler, as per the Samoan family’s long tradition. He eventually had his road to fame through the WWE and continued his success in Hollywood. Very few people have the luck and the circumstances that eventually led to the creation of The Rock, but everyone has the ability to overcome their challenges, work through their shortcomings, make use of their talents, and find a purpose in life that brings them happiness and fulfillment – no matter where it may be found.

Addiction is a terrible disease to struggle with. It eats its way into a person’s mind and changes the way they think and feel. To deal with the long-term effects of addiction, you not only have to abstain from drugs and alcohol – but you have to find meaning in your life. Seek it out among your family, at the workplace, or on the field. Find your passion, your drive, your meaning. Go to classes. Try out what interests you. Hard work may not be worth what it used to be, but we can all afford to live purposeful lives, if we adjust our perspective and find the right path.

 

Sober Living and Purpose

Sober living communities are excellent for people coming out of rehab or for recovering addicts struggling with a relapse, because sober communities are based on social accountability and responsibility.

When you live in a sober living community, you’re accountable toward others. Tenants in a sober living community share responsibility for said community, and have to keep their living spaces clean, while sharing chores to keep the common area presentable and hospitable to all.

Every tenant is also required to go to work or school, or actively seek employment. These rules are meant to help ease tenants back into what sober living initially means – being part of a greater whole, a society where you contribute and share in the benefits of your combined contribution.

From there, you’re encouraged to seek out your purpose, and engage in any activities that might interest you. Without addiction, the chains are off, and life is open to you.

Planning A Sober Party: How Do You Do It?

Sober Party

One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding sobriety and addiction recovery is that the second you sign into a sober living home or a rehab facility, you’re handing in your soul and are damning yourself to a life of prudishness and dreary boredom. There are countless jokes and quips about how sobriety is the death of fun.

However, sobriety can be fun. You just have to know how to have fun in the first place. If you’re new to being sober after spending most of your time at parties getting drunk, it can be hard to imagine what a party must be like without booze.

Sober parties are fun, but they’re a very different kind of fun. If your idea of partying involved lots of alcohol and loud music, then you’re going to have a very limited array of options for mimicking that. Sober parties involve having fun while being entirely aware of it – which is tough for most people coming out of recovery.

For someone with a history of addiction, self-awareness is all too awkward and uncomfortable, especially in a very social setting. Before you throw a sober party, you must ask yourself if you’re entirely comfortable with the idea of being around a lot of people without booze – or if you’re ready to get into a “party mood” without a drop to drink. It gets a bit easier with time, as you get to know your sober self, and what you enjoy doing. But don’t be surprised if your first few parties might feel weird, or at least wildly different from what you’re used to. That being said, here’s what you need to know:

 

Make The “Sober” Part Clear

The biggest difference between a regular party and a sober party is the lack of booze. But because celebrations and alcohol are so synonymous, it’s critical that you make that abundantly clear. It’s also important to know that you may not get that many people to come the first time around. If you have freshly-sober friends, they may not be comfortable going to a party just yet. If you have friends who still drink liberally, banning booze might just turn them off to the idea of going.

Don’t give in. No matter what, it’s important to absolutely ban booze at a sober party, especially if you and/or the people you’re inviting are recovering. A lot of recovering alcoholics have trouble going to parties and staying completely clean, and many long-term sober people may find celebrations quite stressful despite learning all the ins and outs of avoiding alcohol at parties. By staying adamant about your no-booze rule, you create a welcoming atmosphere for people wanting to socialize but avoid temptation.

 

Know Your Friends

The themes of the party are going to depend entirely on who you’re inviting. For some, something as simple as a sober backyard barbeque with good rock music can be a party. No one needs booze to enjoy music, unless it’s particularly bad. If you and your friends are more into games, then plan a night or a day all around them, from infuriating board games to Cards Against Humanity, boules, football, or party video games.

If your friends are far more into food than playing around, then plan a potluck. Task everyone with bringing something homecooked or get everyone together to plan and cook a giant five-course dinner.

If the people you’re inviting don’t all know each other, it’s important to have something planned to get everyone to introduce themselves and talk a little bit about who they are. You can turn it into a game, or just make it a priority to have everyone give a little wave and say hi. As a host, go around and make sure everyone has gotten acquainted.

 

Food and Drinks Matter

Both food and drinks matter, but the food matters more than the drinks. Regarding beverages, here are a few important rules:

  • Don’t get imitation alcohol. Non-alcoholic beers, champagnes or wines are a bad idea. However, punches and fruit drinks might be a different story.
  • Get a variety of drinks going. Make some of your own and buy a few. Be a little adventurous with your purchases and consider getting novelty drinks you might not have heard of before – they can become interesting conversation starters.
  • Keep the drinks cool and keep them coming. Give everyone something to drink.

For the most part, it’s best if the focus is on the meal rather than the drinks. If you’re going for a themed party, keep the theme going through the drinks and food. For example: if you’re going Indian, offer lassi, jal-jeera, tea, and thandai, alongside a variety of meal options, including meat-based dishes, some fish for the pescatarians, and entirely plant-based dishes for any potential vegans/vegetarians. There’s an infinite number of themes and possibilities online for you to explore and try out.

 

Not Everyone Might Like It

Some will never be convinced that sobriety is fun. This is epitomized by “dry drunk” behavior – when someone struggling with alcohol addiction is committed to quitting drinking but hates every moment of being sober. This is relatively normal for the first few weeks of recovery, where both the mind and body must take time to adjust to being drug-free and coping with the various challenges that poses. Many use drugs like alcohol to deal with emotional pain and remove themselves from the world, cutting away at fear and anger by watering it down with a consistent stream of booze. But once the tap is out, the emotions come flooding back in, with a vengeance.

The fallout for weeks, months, and years of bottling up one’s emotions is a rollercoaster ride of ups, downs, and twists. It’s no wonder many end up miserable, at first. But then the truth starts to set in, and people realize that they had been drinking their lives away. Alcohol doesn’t make things fun – it just lets you forget the bad things, but also eliminates the good. Relationships fall away, careers are destroyed, and lives end.

But with sobriety, you get to live life as it is: some good, some bad, and a lot in between. It’s your choice whether you choose to remember the good and work for more of it, or wallow in the bad and never truly find out how good life can be.

 

Self-Introspection During Recovery

Introspection About Life

Life goes by much too quickly nowadays – while our life expectancy has steadily risen over the past few decades, the day-to-day has generally become much more saturated with a constant flow of information, competition, and a never-ending stream of suggestion and manipulation.

Stress levels are rising in our society not because of enduring plagues or the looming threat of war, but because people are constantly asked from every angle to watch how they present themselves, strive to match the newest trend, or worry about the newest social or political movement. Mental illness, while better understood and explored in today’s society, is still consistently aggravated by societal pressures and perceived pressures emitted through media and the internet.

Meanwhile, our constant access to data and information gives us an unprecedented level of knowledge, in exchange for steady mental stimulation and the stress and fatigue that accumulates because of it.

Life goes by so quickly because there is little to no time to turn the noise off for a moment and let time slow down.

While meditation has not been a valued cornerstone of Western spirituality or philosophy for very long, there is precedence for taking time to reflect in Western society. We would gather for family traditions, take the time to make daily offerings to specific deities or pray for their favor, and unwind after a long day at work – not through Netflix, television, or the radio, but through conversation and recollection.

Families spend less and less time together, and more and more time online – especially on their mobile devices. Dinnertime conversations and general exchanges are becoming rarities, and while the internet permits us to chat with anyone, anywhere, at any time, face-to-face interaction fades.

It is important to learn how to simply stop and reflect on things, now more than ever before. And this is especially true if you are recovering from an addiction. In recovery, the ability to reflect on your own and through conversation with others is critical. Old-fashioned face-to-face social contact is important as well, to help us regrow a sense of trust in others, and bolster confidence in our own abilities to interact with people and be a meaningful part of a community again.

If you have recently begun your road to recovery or feel that something is missing in your quest to maintain sobriety, then consider the power of reflection and introspective thinking.

 

What is Introspection?

It is as simple as it gets – you bring your mind within yourself, and think about what you’ve done, what you’ve thought, and why. Introspection is as simple as hitting the mental rewind button and contemplating your actions in times past – which can help a great deal in understanding your own addiction, and how to best prevent possible relapses moving forward. Simple questions – like, why did I start using in the first place, and what have I learned while sober – can help turn a chaotic and difficult time in your life into a time of learning and true growth.

It’s not wholly accurate that people cannot change. While our personalities do solidify to an extent in our twenties and early thirties, there is a great long list of things that can change simply by confronting yourself and reconsidering your mindset and approach to life. Perspective is crucial in recovery, as a positive perspective can help you combat oppressive negative thinking and move forward with hope in your own future, rather than crumbling under the stress and weight of a potential relapse or total break from recovery.

To begin incorporating introspection into your life, find a good time in your day to shut yourself off from the world. Remove technology, communication, and distraction. Take your time every evening to simply sit and think, and ask yourself a set of questions. They could be specific to a given day, or a given problem, or a general issue that has been bothering you. Introspection is a form of self-therapy and works much the same way as cognitive behavioral therapy, or other forms of psychotherapy where patients are asked to confront their way of thinking and reshape how they view themselves and the world.

 

Why It’s Important to Look Inwards

There is always the danger of using big words with little meaning when writing about matters of philosophy and psychology, so applicability is important. Incorporating time to reflect on your day, week, or life in general is immediately beneficial to anyone, at any point in their lives. It used to be that we had the time to go over our day, but with the amount of filler and distractions present in our lives today, we live day after day without ever getting the comfort of a proper resolution to our issues.

As such, things pile up, and the stress grows. One worry is superseded by the next, but none of them ever actually go away, leaving traces in your mind like ghost data on a hard drive.

You need a break – more than just a long vacation, but a regular break from worrying and overthinking. Reflection is not meant to be time spent turning one worry into another or going over problems until they mutate into something worse. Remember: perspective is crucial. Reflection is a time to think on what you’ve done and thought and derive a positive context for the future. Sometimes that can be difficult, and that is where professional therapy comes into play. At other times, just taking a minute to think things through can help out a lot.

 

A Time for Changes

Recovery is the process of treating addiction, but this is often a very vague description of the recovery process. Every person’s recovery is a bit different, but everyone must make changes in their lifestyle to accommodate their newfound sobriety and make it a sustainable choice.

Regular reflection is one such change, but there are many others you can make that contribute to the concept of changing your perspective for the better and carving a future for yourself that is not filled with worries of relapses, but happy thoughts of a better and exciting tomorrow.

For that to happen, you must make a lot of changes to how you spend your time. Try and get into a line of work that you enjoy or are passionate about, even if you can only find an entry position. Try and make as much time as possible for the things that interest you the most, the things you are the most passionate about. And as much as possible, cut out things that you feel are heavily distracting you or are contributing to negative thinking, from Netflix to Facebook and Twitter.

It might start with something simple as taking fifteen minutes before bed time to stare at the ceiling and sort out your thoughts, but everyone finds their own form of meditation sooner or later. Some people find themselves best lost in thought during autopilot activities, such as cleaning chores. Others turn towards reflective thoughts during training sessions or exercise, like swimming, diving, and long walks/runs. Whatever it is that best helps you get into a steady calm flow state of mind, try and pursue it regularly and find the time to reflect, and clear your head. While this is separate from introspection, it can contribute to helping you calm your mind, and bring you closer to something close to a meditative state.

 

Making New Friends After Recovery

Finding New Friends

So, you are out of rehab, and well into your recovery process, rediscovering yourself and finding out what you are most passionate about, now that your life is open to the possibilities of doing much more than pursuing another high. However, for many people, going into a treatment program and working through the recovery process can lead to a lonely outcome, especially if some of the necessary life changes involve cutting out a whole host of people who have negatively influenced their lives over years.

While group meetings and sober living homes contribute to making new social contacts in sober circles, not everyone finds a good match through their treatment programs. These treatment programs help people in recovery be sociable with others and learn to trust one another to a certain degree, but they do not guarantee lasting friendship or aim to forge a powerful bond between people – healing bonds are important, but many support groups eventually wax and wane as people go off to find emotional support in other places, through family and other friends.

Finding your own friends while sober is important, especially if you have had to trim your social contacts down due to sobriety. However, without knowing where to start, this can be a difficult task.

 

Making Sober Friends

The key prerequisite to friends in and after recovery is their sobriety, at least around you. You are not going to be looking for drinking buddies, so preferably search in circles where people are already having fun and being sociable without alcohol.

The easiest way of ensuring you are looking for sober friends in sober places is by attending a wider breadth of group meetings and support groups all over your area. Expand your search to new places around town and see if you do not happen to run into interesting people. If not, there is always something new to learn from attending group meetings – they can help give you insight into your own addiction by way of someone else’s perspective.

 

Making Friends Outside of Recovery

Sober circles can be a great way to make sober friends, but it is still a narrow selection of people who might be interested in the same stuff as you. Workshops, events, and competitions are great places to meet people with similar interests to yours.

Focusing on your hobbies during recovery is part of the process, as well – it helps in finding ways to cope with stress without drug use or other negative, maladaptive coping mechanisms. In other words – try and have more fun, and you might find new friends along the way.

 

Quality Over Quantity

The goal is not to expand your Facebook friend list or make a friend for each day of the week – depending on your needs and sociability, one or two best friends and a handful of other friends is usually all you need in life.

It is important to meet with a lot of new people and be open to unexpected conversations and acquaintances, but do not expect to make half a dozen best friends by forcing yourself to meet more people. Be natural about it – see where things go. Friends are a matter of chemistry and mutual interests, not persistence.

 

Focus on The Activity

Nobody goes to the gym to make friends, or heads to a convention looking to meet their BFF. Rather than focusing strictly on making friends, just focus on getting out more often. Do not be afraid of social contact, and do not be afraid of introducing yourself to strangers – in time, you will find the right people for you.

Until then, the goal is to:

 

Try to Be Social

If you hate going out, then force yourself to go out just a little bit. Being social is key to meeting people, and even if it goes against your nature, you will often surprise yourself with how pleasant it can be to meet interesting people in interesting places, especially the kind where people with the same passions and interests as you mingle.

Take your week and find the time to do something outside of your own home. It could be something as simple as running an errand and checking out a cool club or activity on the weekend or joining a new gym or heading to a new park for a morning/afternoon jog a few times a week. From there, it is just a matter of warming up to the idea of talking up strangers and learning more about them.

 

It’s Okay to Struggle

There is a lot of pressure on people with addiction to get better. Typically, there are people who care for you – your parents, family, friends. They want you to get better, and many steps towards getting better involve getting uncomfortable, and watching things get tougher before they get easier.

Sometimes, you struggle and do not manage to follow through on a step or achieve a goal the first time around. Your first foray into meeting new people or trying something out might not go according to plan, or you might not meet anyone, or you might not go to a meeting you were supposed to go to.

There are countless reasons why things might not pan out, but it is important to deal with the aftermath in a useful and productive way. Beating yourself up over it and turning the situation into a combination of a guilt trip and a pity party will only make things worse, increase the trauma, and lead to a reluctance to try again. But pushing yourself too hard might just backfire as well.

Try to remember what the goal is and try to ask yourself if you are truly dedicated towards it – if the answer is yes, then just proceed at a pace you are more comfortable with. Do not push for too many events and social outings in a single week. Try with just one and see where it goes. Instead of diving head first into the whole making friends thing, dip your toes in it a few times.

It will get massively easier with time, especially after the first few times that you meet someone fun or interesting. Going at your own pace is important, because not everyone is very sociable – some people prefer to spend more time on their own, while others love being surrounded with people, and naturally make friends. Find a balance where you can be with others and have time to be alone and reflect on your recovery.

 

Staying Positive After a Relapse

Staying Positive

A relapse occurs when someone who is in recovery uses drugs again. There are many ways to describe relapses, and many of them involve words like “fail” or “end”. Yet a relapse is neither a failure, nor an ending.

This is an important premise to set when discussing what a relapse actually is – and how you can manage to come away from this experience with something valuable in mind.

 

Why Relapses Aren’t Failures

To begin with, it is important to explain why relapses occur. While you may not know it, relapses are unfortunately quite common among many people struggling to stay sober for long periods of time during their recovery. Rather than see this as a sign that most people are “too weak-willed” to see their recovery through to the end, it is important to reframe what a relapse might mean.

Relapses occur when there are flaws in your recovery process. And this is most definitely to be expected, especially on the first attempt at sobriety. If you have been addicted for years and finally managed to take your first step towards a different kind of life, then the change from being addicted to being clean and sober for days on end can be drastic. People tend to mix their sobriety with many other drastic changes, some of which are beneficial and some of which can further apply stress to the situation and make it difficult to cope.

As a coping mechanism, addiction is potent at making us forget our problems and run away from them – drugs are great for escapism, but they do not solve anything, instead only prolonging the problem. When you’re clean, all your problems often come crashing down on you, while your usual coping mechanism is verboten.

So, what do you do? If it’s your first time around, and you’re reaching your limits, then the overwhelming nature of it all is likely to trigger a relapse. Couple that with many of the various triggers people are often not aware of the first time around, and it becomes difficult to resist the allure of going back to using after your first sober stint.

This does not make relapsing a good thing, and neither does it mean a relapse is meant to end your recovery. Instead, take this mistake and see it as a bump in the road. In some cases, it won’t be the first time. However, the big question now is: what do you do next?

 

Recovering into Recovery

The most important thing to do when first relapsing is remembering to not give up. No matter how hard it is to promise yourself that you will keep trying, you have to make a commitment to your continued sobriety despite any current and future setbacks.

Just like admitting your addiction is the first step to getting better, accepting that relapses can happen is the first step to moving past them. If you continue to fear your relapse, and fear that it will lead to a never-ending cycle, then you will have even more trouble maintaining sobriety. Relapses are not positive experiences, but you can turn them into something better, and create a more positive outcome for yourself.

That relies on going back into treatment. Most clinics and treatment programs know that patients can relapse, and often do. It is important to go back over what you learned while in rehab or sober living and find a sober lifestyle that best suits you. From there, examine what went wrong the last time.

Was there a specific emotional trigger for the relapse? Was it triggered by an intense craving, or a memory? Did something or someone weaken your resolve? Or did you stray from program, and find yourself losing the motivation to stay clean?

Doing something repeatedly and consistently requires not just motivation, but discipline. However, having something to anchor yourself to can help you stay on your path. Consider who in your life is most important to you and remind yourself of them when you feel tempted to use. Accountability can be a powerful tool for combating cravings after the initial early recovery period.

If you find yourself constantly craving and combatting powerful emotions, you may not be ready to stay sober on your own. Move back into a sober living home, or if you have not considered that option, find one to move into.

If your relapse was triggered, eliminating the trigger can help. Eventually, you will find the strength to resist a relapse even with old memories of using come back, but it isn’t a good idea to burden yourself with additional stress by letting triggers – such as places, certain music, and even certain people – back into your life. Find ways around old neighborhoods, cut out friends that are not supportive of your sobriety or continue to use around you (or talk about using), and if the option is available to you, consider temporarily moving to a different home – close to your friends and family, but away from old memories.

 

Make an Effort to Go Out

After a relapse, it is incredibly tempting to simply lock yourself away – many people struggle to recovery emotionally, instead feeling shame for giving in, or regret for using again. The idea of being out and about with others might be unpleasant especially if you are not a very sociable person to begin with, but the key to overcoming a relapse is fortifying your sobriety: by making it fun.

You must try but consider going out more often. Find sober parties, things to do, classes to attend, people to hang out with. If you live near or in a major city, there are half a dozen things for you to do in any given neighborhood at any given point in time, and none of them would involve alcohol or drugs.

By turning your sobriety into the chance to experience a new perspective of life, rather than a form of punishment for your sins, you drastically improve your chances of staying sober.

 

It’s a Learning Experience

Relapses are just that: learning experiences. They teach you about your emotional limits, help you explore yourself in sobriety, and give you a direction to avoid, hinting at the right path instead. After a relapse, you must reflect and consider what went wrong. Consider what you should change.

Regardless of how many times it takes, never let a relapse throw you off your long-term goal. It does get easier, with time, if you manage to find a way to learn from each stumble rather than consistently repeating the same mistakes.

 

Sobriety Is the Right Choice for Your Health

Sobriety For Your Health

Being sober has its benefits. For one, you remember what’s going on around you the next day. Secondly, being sober means you can think clearly and make decisions after careful deliberation – which, often, can save your life or someone else’s. And third, being sober gives you a chance at a much better life, with a fulfilling purpose, a loving family, and friends who care about you.

But beyond all that, being sober is the right choice for your health. Not only does addiction drastically increase your risk of death due to the chance of overdosing or dying in an accident, but prolonged drug use takes its toll on your body, brain, and mind. Recovering from an addiction is a long and tough road and recovering physically is equally tough.

Here’s how addiction affects the body – and why sobriety can get your health back on track.

 

How Drugs Eat at the Brain

The brain is the first organ drugs attack, binding to receptors in your brain cells to elicit certain emotional responses. Over time, as an addiction progresses, and people drive up their drug intake, most forms of drug use begin to cause accumulative brain damage – on top of changing the way you think, drugs can affect cognition and memory, making you prone to risk-taking and bad decision-making.

The damage is largely reversible, but it takes a lot of time. Aside from the brain, drugs also affect the body.

 

Your Body and Drug Use

They say the dose makes the poison, yet most addictive drugs are harmful at nearly any dosage. Nicotine, the active ingredient in cigarettes, is toxic – however, most cigarettes don’t have enough nicotine to cause nicotine poisoning. Instead, cigarettes harm the body through burnt tobacco, which causes a buildup of carcinogenic tar in the lungs and airways.

Cocaine, while relatively harmless in its plant form, can cause major havoc in the body as a powdered extract, damaging the heart and raising the risk of a stroke. Alcohol is poisonous as well, causing liver cirrhosis in the event of excessive drinking, and building up damage in the heart.

The list goes on – drugs from heroin to methamphetamine and benzodiazepines can all cause organ damage, taking months and years to fully heal and reverse. By quitting, you’re already one step closer to helping your body heal – simply taking a long break from drug use can give your body the time and resources it needs to heal. However, there’s a lot more you can do to speed up the process. For example, sleep.

 

Your Sleep Will Improve

People in general tend to neglect their sleep. As a culture, we value hard work – and that often means putting your sleep on the line to bring results. But cutting down on sleep to bring more hours to the job won’t do you much good – and when you’re struggling with addiction, losing sleep is often a part of your daily life.

Sleep is much more important than most realize – ideally, the average adult human should sleep roughly 6-8 hours every single day. While we used to sleep in phases, it’s healthier to enjoy a single long REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Sleep makes up as much as a third of a person’s day.

When you’re sober, you have a chance to catch up on some sleep and schedule your life in such a way that you get as much of it as you need. Good sleep means better digestion, better complexion, better thinking, and a healthier mood. Bad sleep or insomnia can drastically affect your cognitive skills, negatively affect your mood, and harm your body. Choose sobriety, and choose good sleep.

 

Regaining Control Over Your Weight

Gaining or losing weight is not necessarily a bad thing – depending on the context and the rate at which your weight is changing. If your BMI rates you as obese, but you feel comfortable and fit, have a healthy bodyfat percentage, and rate as healthy in your physical tests, then there’s nothing to worry about. Gaining ten pounds or losing ten pounds is never the end of the world, either. But if you gain and lose ten pounds over the course of just a few days, something might be very wrong.

Addiction can often cause severe weight loss or weight gain, coupled with malnutrition. Often when quitting, people who were on drugs like cocaine or meth will find themselves putting on a significant amount of weight while in recovery. This can be good, especially if you were underweighted previously, but if you find yourself replacing drugs with food then you may have another problem on your hands in the form of stress eating.

On the other Hand, drugs like alcohol often put on extra weight due to empty calories converting into fat. However, despite gaining weight, many alcoholics do not get enough nutrients to keep themselves healthy.

While in recovery, it is important to look in the mirror and consider how you might want to change, if you want to change at all. Weight is only one aspect of maintaining a healthy body – weight gain and weight loss are a part of the recovery process, and it may take a few months for your weight to normalize once you’re sober. After that, it’s on you to decide how you feel about your body.

 

Healthier Body, Healthier Mind

Physical health and mental health are intrinsically linked. If you feel terrible, chances are that you will neglect your physical health. Likewise, as your physical health deteriorates, pain and sickness can lead to feelings of depression.

People tend to focus on one and forget the other but staying healthy involves balancing both. When you become sober this is especially important, as your goal is not only to stay sober, but to live a lifestyle that lets you enjoy your sobriety. While many people enjoy eating or extreme sports, eating excessively or wrecking your body will drastically decrease your quality of life, leading to decades of pain and medication. By keeping your mind and your body healthy, you get to spend time and money doing the things you enjoy in moderation, rather than paying a hefty toll for overindulgences.

Coming off an addiction, you’re sure to understand the consequences of overindulgence – don’t make similar mistakes with something other than drugs or alcohol. Sobriety can open your life up to endless possibilities – both positive and negative. It’s on you to make the right choices, and they often do not come easy.

Getting Into a Sober Mindset

Sober Mindset For Life

For many people who struggle with addiction, and are transitioning into sobriety, the sober lifestyle does not come naturally. The idea that you can have fun while sober – that life is far more enjoyable while sober – is usually quite distant for many in their first few months of recovery. A sober mindset will translate to a fulfilling sober life.

Staying committed to being sober is something you warm up to. As relationships go, however, it can be something of a rocky start for most. Quitting an addiction usually means going through withdrawal symptoms, followed by emotional turmoil during the early recovery period. Even after the first few weeks, it can be difficult to feel comfortable when sober.

This is because, for the most part, there is an adjustment period everyone must go through, from the very first day of quitting and going sober, to the end of the initial treatment process.

Getting used to the sober lifestyle is a big part of successful recovery – it is not enough to quit using and/or drinking. You must enjoy life while sober to stay sober – and it may surprise you just how enjoyable life can be when you are clear minded and aware.

 

What Sobriety Gets You

Unfortunately, sobriety is not magic. It will not automatically change your life for the better, provide you with good fortune or grant you happiness. Sobriety is a moment in time when your mind is clear, your body is free from drugs, and you’re bearing the full sensory brunt of living.

By being sober, you’re already giving your body and your brain a much-needed rest from the abuse that substance use puts them through. This is a good first step toward better long-term health and longevity.

Give it a few weeks, and you will begin to see massive changes in both mood and thinking. Drug use and alcohol misuse can cause mental impairment, changing and limiting your cognitive abilities, and your ability to reason and remember things. Only time can heal that.

Speaking of time, being sober means having a lot more of it. Addiction can be extremely time consuming, and it can be very expensive. Going sober and staying sober means cutting addiction out of your life, giving you time to:

  • Sleep more.
  • Focus on your passions.
  • Work and achieve your goals.
  • Spend time with family and friends.
  • Make treasured memories.

Sobriety also gives you the chance to redeem broken bonds and hurt relationships. You can use your regained time to make amends and seek forgiveness or forgive others. Or, you can find new friends and create new bonds.

 

Overcoming the Fear of Relapse

Once you begin to get used to being sober, the fear that it all might go away grows stronger. That fear, ironically, increases your risk of relapse.

To some, relapse is part of the recovery process. It acts to further understand what triggers the person’s cravings, and it teaches them how to navigate early recovery without relapsing again. To others, a single relapse can be enough to lose all hope of recovery.

Relapsing does not spell failure for your recovery. It is best to think of it as a nasty bump on a long road. Relapses are significant – but only insofar that you should figure out why it occurred and understand how to prevent it from happening again in the future. Having a sober mindset can reduce chances of a relapse by helping change your lifestyle and needs alongside, although it takes a good amount of time and commitment.

The only way to fail at addiction treatment is to give up. But if you simply decide to get back on the horse, resume your treatment and recommit to recovery, then there’s hope yet.

 

Enjoying Your Sober Mindset

The sober mindset is one where sobriety is not a chore or a challenge, but a fact of life – one you embrace and feel grateful for. It’s not normal for most people who struggle with addiction to easily adopt a sober mindset and lifestyle– but shifting your mindset to seeing it as a new, fresh perspective on life rather than an indomitable challenge can help you better commit to sobriety.

How you go about reframing your sober life into something enjoyable is entirely up to you. Addiction, in a way, tears choices away from you and replaces them with compulsion and self-destructive behavior. But having a sober mindset, you slowly bring back the ability to shape and mold your own life and make your own choices. At first, it will be overwhelming and difficult to manage. Sober living communities exist specifically to help people deal with choice, by slowly introducing it into their lives through structured schedules and events.

Rather than seeing sobriety as an obstacle, see it as an opportunity. Rather than seeing choice as something to be anxious about, see it as a source of freedom. How you choose to see things can drastically affect your sober mindset – and thus, your recovery process.

 

Staying Sober

Getting physically sober is not difficult – all it takes is a little bit of time. The hard part is staying sober long enough to make a meaningful difference in your life, giving your body and brain time to heal and gain a sober mindset, and taking the time to get your life in order as well.

Learning to enjoy your sobriety is an important step in that journey – but be careful not to “burn yourself out” on life. Remember that life is not just all about experiencing, but it is also important to take time and reflect. Take things slow for a while. Find a pace you are comfortable with, rather than racing from one event to the next to keep yourself busy.

To enjoy you sober mindset, you must find something you are passionate about, and pursue it, rather than finding things to distract yourself from the cravings. That might work for a while at first, but lasting sobriety is more involved – as time passes, stress can accumulate in ways we cannot anticipate. Your life may even reach a boiling point, or some unforeseen event might push you over the edge.

We all have moments we could never account for – which is why after treatment, it is important to look towards your support group as a cornerstone to a sober life.
Friends, family, and those you care for the most can help you through difficult situations, keeping you company through troubled times, and making sure you don’t stray from your sober path. Aside from regularly going to group therapy and helping others figure out their own way towards staying sober, remember that the people closest to you are ultimately those whose support you need the most.

Relationship Consequences Of Drug Abuse

Relationship In Recovery

In most cases, love is a double-edged sword. When you emotionally commit to another human being, you grow empathic to their every feeling. When they’re troubled, you’re troubled. When they’re happy, it brings you joy. And when there’s serious strain in the relationship, it can send you into a fit of depression.

Love can strengthen, but it can also weaken. We risk that whenever we open our hearts to someone else, and even when a relationship’s future looks bleak, we are often inclined to work as hard as we can to save it. Sometimes, that is a good thing. At other times, this drive can only make things worse.

With addiction in the picture, it’s difficult to tell where the pendulum swings. Sometimes, a loving, supporting partner can be the key to recovery. At other times, a partner struggling with addiction can tear the other apart emotionally, irrevocably destroying a once beautiful bond, and leaving a lasting mark.

Through hard work, commitment, and luck, addiction and drug abuse can be overcome in a relationship. But sometimes it’s better to spare yourself, than lose yourself and your partner over your partner’s disease.

 

Why Active Addicts Often Make Terrible Partners

There is a lot of stigma against people struggling with addiction, and many still view it as a consequence of moral failing, rather than a brain disease with behavioral side-effects. It is true that people who struggle with drug abuse usually become less pleasant because of their addiction, to the point where they may start lying and acting irrationally to support their habit. But behavior like this is not indicative of the person’s usual personality, rather, it’s part of the disease.

And it’s that part of the disease that makes addicts terrible partners. Trust is important in a relationship, and the ability to depend on your partner is the cornerstone of any romantic commitment. Addiction effectively steals your partner away from you, making them unreliable and often downright untrustworthy, introducing secrecy and drama into the relationship.

To overlook that long enough to survive recovery is difficult. Relationships have a hard time surviving addiction, and if you’re the supporting partner, then your biggest task is staying sane and not succumbing to codependency, or worse yet, enabling behavior. That being said, being in a relationship while fighting addiction isn’t all bad.

 

Relationship: A Boon Or A Bane On Recovery

One reason why many recovery groups explicitly advise against dating while in recovery is because the pain of rejection or of a break up can easily send a recovering addict spiraling back into addiction through relapse. Early recovery in particular is a very fragile time in a recovering addict’s life, as adjusting to long-term sobriety and life without drugs can take a while.

Relationships, as such, can present themselves either as a big obstacle in a person’s recovery, or as their saving grace, the one thing they have left to hold onto as a form of accountability and motivation for staying sober, and remaining abstinent.

 

Living With A Partner In Denial

If your partner is in denial, and refuses to get help, then you may be approaching a point in the relationship where the person you fell in love with is fading away, and you have to consider your own mental health and emotional wellbeing. Losing yourself trying to help someone else is not a reasonable long-term deal – even if your partner recovers, the guilt of leaving lasting emotional damage will drag them back down.

Be sure to practice self-care if you’re going to be an emotional pillar of support – even if that ultimately means making the difficult decision of stepping out of your partner’s life. For some, that might be the push they need to get them to realize that help is needed.

 

Codependency And Enabling

A relationship between someone struggling with addiction and their partner can devolve further into more damaging problems, including the enabling of addiction through lies and secrecy, and codependency – developing mental health issues including addiction in part because of your partner’s condition.

Often, partners (and parents) who enable their loved ones may not be fully aware of their behavior or may even be in denial. It might start off as trying to save your partner from embarrassment by lying to concerned friends about his or her addiction, but it can progress into bigger lies and manipulative behavior.

An important part of addiction is waking up to the consequences of being addicted and using that as motivation to seek help. By hiding your partner’s problems, you may be making things worse for them.

 

Getting Stronger By Healing Together

It’s not all doom and gloom. But it is a decision you and your partner have to make. If you’re the supporting partner, then you have to ask yourself if you can stand by your partner’s side throughout their recovery and trust their commitment to abstinence. Your support, unconditional love, and constant willingness to be there for them may save them in moments of weakness, especially if you aren’t alone.

In other cases, your willingness to forgive may mean your partner will feel less pressure to change – and over months and years, take you for granted. This toxic cycle is something no one should have to try and withstand.

The juggling act is to find the right point to make that crucial decision. Not too soon, and not too late. If you can find that point – and choose to stay – then with a little luck, your bond will strengthen through the experience of fighting through addiction together. It can be a growing experience, as well, pushing the relationship to its limits and discovering a new sort of love – the dependable kind that lasts through real crises.

What kind of effects does addiction have on your relationship – and how do you see your future? It’s important to sit down and think long and hard about these questions and decide what they mean for the future of your relationship, regardless of which partner you are.