Finding Meaning In Your Sobriety Milestones

Sober Milestones

One thing which we do not tend to learn, while in addiction, is how to give ourselves credit. The road of recovery has been marked with goalposts – or milestones – to ensure that we take the time to acknowledge that we have, indeed, committed to the journey of life which so many before us have bravely embarked upon. When you arrive upon these markers, you gain reassurance that you are on the right path toward finding your best self.

These milestones are typically divided into periods of time, though you may find that you proceed more quickly – or more slowly – down your life path than do others. There are many ways to conceptualize the process of self-development during these time periods. The following description describes the process of recovery as the journey of becoming your own, sustainable, source of mental, emotional, and spiritual fulfillment.


Milestone:  30 Days – Tilling the Ground

By this time, the chemical effects of the invading substance will have been removed from your body. This is the time where you are beginning to get to know the real you, apart from being controlled by the drugs or alcohol. Getting to know yourself, sober, can be both an exciting – and a trying – time. You may be finding that there are parts of yourself which have not ever been properly dealt with, and those parts may begin to find the confidence to safely emerge.

The longer that the addictive substance played a part in your life, the longer it may take to stabilize yourself and to find your center. Emotions which were previously altered, ignored, and suppressed will need to find a new – and better – way of expressing themselves. Thoughts which were previously centered on how to score that next high will need to be retrained toward thoughts of how to find peace, and of how to plan for a successful future. Many will begin to realize that the addiction took up a large part of each day, and living without it leaves a large gap of time which will need to be filled. The task, here, will be to discover new, meaningful, activities to pursue during your waking hours.


Milestone: 90 Days – Planting the Seeds

By the time you have reached your 90-days of sobriety, the new thoughts and behaviors which you developed within your initial recovery plan will have become old-hat. While the first thirty days can be experienced as a drastic, and rapidly changing, period, this second milestone marks your stability. You are likely to notice that the temptations to resort to using substances occur less frequently, and with less intensity. You have developed a new, hopeful, routine.

While your confidence level in your abilities to survive and thrive without substances is increasing, your past is still close enough behind you to warrant receiving continued support toward your resolve to stay on track. Research has indicated that it can take up to eight months before new habits are fully established, so don’t expect too much of yourself by this stage. Many will find that the attending of support groups and use of coping mechanisms are still providing reassurance during times of self-doubt. These supports are likely to be integrated into a daily life which also includes purpose and productivity.


Milestone: Year 1  – Reaping A Harvest

With all of the hard self-work that has been done over the past year, this milestone is one during which the effort begins to pay really pay off. Loved ones are likely to have come around to trusting, and believing in, this new life of yours. Burned bridges have been restored, or you have made peace with the restoration projects which will take a longer period of time to heal. You are able to look at yourself as someone of worth and accomplishment, and take pride in the choices that you have made over these many months.

A year of sobriety brings with it the confidence that you have what it takes to succeed. While the support team which has assisted you along the way is likely to still be important, you are likely to find that you have developed the ability to nurture yourself during times of stress. New mindsets, combined with hopeful visions of the future, work to spur you onward.


Milestone: Year 5 – Sharing With Others

At this point, you have well established your new routines; relationships; and life ventures. The old you, of addiction, is likely to feel like an entirely different life from the one which you have now. Your self-care practices have served you well, and your feet are likely planted firmly in a direction of prosperity.

By this milestone, many will feel as though their own supply of joy and peace is abundant enough to share it with others. Far from carrying the old reputation of being an addict – unreliable and untrustworthy – a person with five years of sobriety may begin to be looked at as a sage. Those who are in their own, various, stages of change in regard to addiction and life struggles are likely to look to you as a guide for their own success. The challenges and triumphs of your own journey with addiction work as a beacon of hope for those who doubt their own abilities to overcome.


Milestone: Year 10 – Surveying Your Accomplishments

Reaching a decade of sobriety is cause for celebration. Your practices of self-care and community involvement are producing reliable results, and your reputation as a solid, insightful, individual is secure. You are free to experience the mundane – but lasting – joys which come from everyday activities, such as through interactions with loved ones and through taking pride in small achievements. You are likely to be able to experience the depths of humility and gratitude which can only be learned by going through the fires of life, and coming out – intact – on the other side. Your life has become a well-tended field, producing a reliable crop of peace, wisdom, and personal success.


How to Handle Life With A Partner Who Is Still Drinking

How to Handle Life With A Partner Who Is Still Drinking - Transcend Texas

For people who are wanting to quit their drinking habits, the easiest approach is to isolate oneself from the substance. When there is no alcohol around – or available – it is easier to resist the temptation to imbibe. This reasoning is what prompts those of means to retreat to sober living homes or distant recovery centers. Out of sight can often mean out of mind.

For those who are in a relationship with a substance abuser, this handy method of changing behavior through lack of exposure is not an option. Not only does the offending substance remain forefront in the picture, the recovering person is likely to be dealing with continual hurt and frustration over the actions of their loved one. Having access to the substance of choice, while being continually upset and stressed, is the ultimate test of a person’s resolve to stay sober.

While simultaneously battling the temptation to give in to drinking, you are probably searching for ways to help your significant other to recognize what you have already recognized about the habit.

You have recognized that the continued use of alcohol as a coping mechanism is a destructive – and dead end – road. Thoughts of how you can help your partner to realize this as truth may even become your main obsession.

Constant thoughts of how to help someone else can end up pushing your own needs to the background. This is dangerous territory for the recovering addict to dwell in.

When deciding your best course of action for the situation, keep the following factors in mind.


Your Well-Being Comes First

If you have ever flown on a plane, you know that, during an emergency, we are to secure our own breathing mask before helping others. You may have also encountered the concept that we are not able to properly love others until we first learn to love ourselves.

These concepts are quite similar in nature. We need to make sure that we are in a healthy position, ourselves, lest the distressing position of others drag us down.

When we are in a relationship with someone who is still drinking, we are at risk of becoming codependent. In a codependent relationship, only the needs of one person are being met. While the drinking partner may be demanding understanding, patience, and funding for the habit, the non-drinking partner is relegated to the role of selfless caretaker.

This selfless position can result in all thoughts being turned toward how to navigate the drinking partner’s experience, leaving no time or energy for the caretaker to think about his or her own needs.

The implementation of self-care is deemed critical to the process of recovery and maintenance of sobriety. Allowing ourselves to become overwhelmed or run-down by the demands of others puts us at risk for seeking relief from the stress through returning to the alcohol.

If you become aware that your own needs are not being tended to while interacting with your partner, a change of relationship dynamics is in order.


Remember What Didn’t Work For You

While the practice of moving forward, and not looking back, works well in many situations, it is also beneficial to draw on our own, past, experiences when attempting to work with others. For many former addicts, there is a tendency to only focus on the benefits of sobriety when encountering those who are still addicted.

As well intentioned as these approaches may be, they do not often produce the desired results. For proof of this, one need only consider how many times that you were told, by others, that you needed to get sober.

Rather than attempting to change the behavior of your significant other, take some time to ponder what it was that finally resulted in your own change for the better. It is possible that you were finally able to see the harm that your addictive behaviors were causing, or that you were finally able to see some hope in a future which didn’t involve the alcohol.

It is highly unlikely that any one person was the linchpin in your decision to change.

If you are tempted to take on a role of badgering, pleading, or bartering with your partner toward changing, take a step back and remember that those same tactics did not work on you. The decision to become sober is a highly personal one, and has to occur from the inside.

Taking the pressure off of yourself to cause this change from the outside can result in greater peace of mind, and more success toward maintaining your own recovery.


Tough Love is Still Love

In consideration of your own needs – and in consideration of the fact that no one else can lead us to sobriety – it may be the case that you need to implement some tough love tactics.

It is sometimes the case that loving our partner from afar is the healthiest option for all concerned. Allowing ourselves to be the constant source of our partner’s support may be the exact thing which is preventing him or her from reaching the bottom from which they will seek change.

Much as a parent who supplies junk food to a toddler is contributing to the child’s battle with obesity, a partner who supplies support to a substance abuser is likely to be contributing to the continued substance use. This situation is known as enabling.

The partner, like the child, are likely telling you that you need to continue to supply the conditions for his or her indulgence. It is your role, as the more equipped individual, to deny the request.

Tough love requires that we develop the skill of suspending emotional impulses, and of making rational decisions toward our future. Invoking the power of tough love requires that we have the ability to look past the immediate, and to turn our focus toward the long term.

In our quest to do the best thing for our partners, it may be the case that leaving them to their own devices is what will produce the best, eventual, outcome for all.

Maintaining Sobriety After Years of Sober Living

Maintaining Sobriety After Years of Sober Living

You may have heard the concept that recovery is a marathon, and not a sprint. While the initial phases of recovery may occur in a fast-paced setting, with changes and accomplishments arising every day, the business of living daily with your new routines eventually settles into the long haul. For most, there is a blessed relief in being able to tend to daily life, free from the chaos and cravings of addiction.

As rewarding as it is, this sense of relief can occasionally become precarious. Monotony can creep in, or circumstances can change for the worse, and the old temptations will attempt to rear their ugly heads. Bringing these negative thoughts and feelings back into submission, when they occur, is the task of maintaining long-term sobriety. The following are some tips and tricks to employ toward making sure that any temptations to revert to your former habits are as mild, and brief, as possible.


Hang On To Your Vision of the Future

One of the surest ways to get lost along the way is to not know where we are going, in the first place. Chances are, when you first set out on your journey of recovery, your mind was full of hope and visions of a happy, fruitful, future. It is important to not let the details of the daily grind crowd out your determination to reach that promised land.

Every journey of life had hills, and valleys. While we are in the valleys, the mountain top seems further away than ever. Doubt and self-defeating emotions can threaten to send us backwards. It is during these times that it is vital to keep ourselves on course through conscious decision.

One of the most popular ways to do this is to map out your life goals on paper.  This technique is highly customizable to your particular interests and skills. For the visually-oriented folks, a picture board of the future can be created, using drawings or cutouts from magazines. Writers may enjoy writing themselves a letter, intended to be read by the future self. Logical minds may benefit from creating flowcharts or diagrams, complete with all of the antecedents necessary for making the conclusion a reality. The most important part is that we keep our vision of our desired future in front of us.


Remember Where You Came From

While focusing on what is in front of you is the best way to reach your mark, it sometimes pays to spend some time in consideration of what we have left behind. It is often the case that, as we progress in life, memories of the harder times begin to fade into the distance. We can begin to take our current comfort levels for granted, and can find ourselves grumbling over our – relatively pleasant – accommodations. When the urge to feel discontent strikes, it can be useful to recall the negative state of your life while you were in your addictions.

Perhaps you are able to recall the time when all you were able to think about was the next way that you were going to get high. Or, perhaps you can best remember the times that you were nasty to everyone around you, or the isolation that you felt while you were waking up with withdrawal symptoms.  While these types of negative things are not good to dwell on, for long, taking a bit of time to remind ourselves of what we do not want in life can provide us with a boost back toward heading in the right direction.


Focus Your Extra Energy on the Needs of Others

The Dalai Lama once noted that, “If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” Another way to think of this is that helping others to feel good is the formula for helping ourselves to feel good. A major factor of temptation toward self-destruction through substance abuse is the tendency to solely focus on our selfish needs, and on our own discomforts. Turning our attention outward, toward meeting the needs of others, is a remedy against sinking into the mire of self pity.

Chances are good that, while you were being controlled by your addiction, other people were called upon to play a support role for you. You may have received food or shelter from concerned individuals. You may have had someone who was always willing to share encouragement or a kind word with you. You may have had someone in your life who was willing to tell you the harsh truths necessary for turning you toward a brighter path. Now that you are in the drivers seat of your own life, you are able to be the one to provide such support for others.

You may be familiar with the concept of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow’s model provides a concise, highly adaptable, map for successful human development. The premise behind the idea of our ability to continue growing, as human beings, is that we are not able to progress to our next stage of development until meeting the requirements of the previous stage. Our ultimate goal lie in reaching the pinnacle – or mountain top – of our existence. This peak of the developmental period is known as self-actualization. The stage, just before it,  is that of having self-esteem.

Self-esteem is developed as a result of first having our own physical and emotional needs met, and then following that up with becoming useful, contributing, members of society. As someone who has been through the war zone of substance abuse addiction – and have survived to tell the tale – you have a unique set of skills, insights, and abilities through which you are able to contribute to the wellness of others. Utilizing our particular strengths for the purpose of helping others to climb their own mountains in life is intrinsically rewarding, and can provide us with a positive feedback loop. This change in our interpersonal dynamics works for both the receiver of our services and for ourselves, as the act of service to others propels us onward toward our own goal of self-actualization.


How To Work On Bettering Your Life After Recovery

How To Work On Bettering Your Life After Recovery - Transcend Texas

When trapped in addiction, our goal tends to be singular. We know that we have to get sober. After obtaining that enormous feat, we often find that we are faced with a myriad of choices for our future. The freedom to choose our own life course can be exhilarating, but also overwhelming. Without guidance, or a clear vision of where we are headed after gaining our sobriety, it can be tempting to slide back down into our old habits.

If you have participated in a recovery program, your counselors and peers can be a great source of advice as to which further steps can be explored toward filling your life after recover with further achievements, peace, and prosperity. It can also be beneficial to utilize self-assessment tools, such as career fit planners or personality tests when deciding on your future life course.

The following are just a few more ideas of the paths that you can consider while plotting out your plan for making the most of your new life after recovery.


Explore the Education Life After Recovery

There is a concept in psychology known as the Johari Window. An idea within this concept is that there are things that we know about ourselves, and things that we do not know about ourselves.

The difficulty with dealing with what we do not know, is that we are often unaware that such possibilities even exist, especially in life after recovery. One of the most efficient ways to increase our knowledge of our own selves – and decrease our own blind spots – is through pursuing higher education.

For some, the primary benefit of pursuing ongoing education after recovery lies in gaining opportunities for self-development. For those who are lacking their high school diploma, doing the hard work necessary to gain that milestone as an adult can provide an enormous boost to self-esteem. Similarly, there are instances when simply taking one class in an interesting college topic can provide the inspiration needed to make an entire shift in self perspective.

Improving career options is a staple of why people will gain their education. It is nearly a law of society that a higher level degree means a higher level of pay, particularly when compared amongst those within a same occupation. Take time to research into what it is that you can see yourself doing over the next several years, and then follow that up with some research into what it takes to get that position.

It has been said that, “if you do what you love, you never work a day in your life.” Gaining a degree or certificate provides a solid pathway toward doing what it is that you love, and getting paid for it.


Enhance Your Social Circle

As we evolve as individuals, we tend to attract – and be attracted to – different types of friendships. While we are in addiction, our social circle often consists of others who are not pursuing a better life for themselves. Now that you are on a journey of self-improvement in this new life after recovery, it is important that you surround yourself with the support of others who are on a similar path.

There is a famous phrase, of unknown origin, which states, “If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room.” The wisdom behind such a concept is that humans tend to learn and grow best when in the presence of others who are more skilled or knowledgeable about a topic. The enduring nature of this concept has given rise to the existence of senseis; teachers; and mentors throughout the centuries.

Finding others who share your passions in life – but who are a little further along on the journey than yourself – is a great way to ensure that your pathway toward self-improvement stays clear.

Creating a new social network can be a happy side effect of embarking upon new educational pursuits. In addition to being provided with teachers who are skilled in the topics we seek, we are automatically surrounded by others who are sharing a part of our vision, goals, and passions. A common theme brings fellow students to this place of learning, and that commonality can be the starting point for positive friendships.

This phenomenon of friendships based on shared interests occurs whether we are 8, or 80,  years old, so don’t allow your number of years on the planet cause you to be wary of testing out those waters.


Give Back to the Community

Whether we like to consider it, or not, our time in addiction was selfish time. This is not to say that we are selfish people, but rather that our focus was on our own situation during that period of life. After taking adequate self-care steps on our own journey of successful recovery, we become more free to focus on the needs of those around us.

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, reaching a point in our lives where we have the energy to devote toward the public good is a critical step toward our reaching our full potential as an individual. Once our basic needs – such as for food, shelter, and safety – have been met, our task is to form meaningful relationships. After our meaningful relationships are established, we discover that our personal experiences of inner acceptance, peace, and hope can be implemented toward helping others.

Giving back can take many forms, dependent upon your unique passions and personality bends. Some may find fulfillment in doing volunteer work, such as for a church or a homeless shelter. Others will find a way to give back while still receiving a paycheck, due to having selected a public service career path.

Still others will find that their best method of contributing to the betterment of humankind is through spending quality time with certain members of the family, such as with their children. The key is to find the ways that you are able to give energy out, while simultaneously receiving self-affirming satisfaction from engaging in the service.

Finding Your Place In Society Again After Recovery

Finding your Place In Society After Recovery

Addiction can be likened to a hell, and the recovery period following our exit from that dark place can be considered an oasis. Once the throes of kicking the habit have been endured, and we have gained some tools for retaining our footing on higher ground, we often enjoy a honeymoon of peace and hope that has been long lacking in our lives. This joy and peace can be disturbed by considerations of how we are going to transition back into our daily lives, following our exit from a treatment program.

For those who have enjoyed the safe haven of a substance abuse treatment program, there may be anxiety about how life after leaving the facility will progress. Many who leave a life of substance abuse are going to return to a life where former friends, activities, and interests have disappeared. Others are bravely returning to situations which are less than ideal, and are needing to be equipped with strategies for staying on their higher path. The following are some tips toward ensuring your continued success in recovery.


Establish Your Maintenance Plans

As you transition into your new life, make sure that you have plans in place to continue to support your recovery. For many, the maintenance phase of recovery is considered to be a lifelong stage, requiring that plans always be ready at hand, in the case that the temptation to go back to using the substance becomes too strong to dismiss. Options for continuing this self care include joining support groups, or participating in individual therapy.

Most cities have local chapters of Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous groups, and a list of their meeting times and locations can be found online. There are also many programs which offer free or low cost, one-on-one, substance abuse counseling. The support gained by meeting with a qualified professional on an outpatient, occasional, basis can be a valuable commodity while you work toward building your new life. Finally, there is often opportunity to continue to interact with the support persons you met while in the action stages of your recovery process. No matter if you are living in a sober living community or not, the friendships formed during this stage can last a lifetime, and provide you with ongoing support in times of need.


Find – And Do – What You Love

When we are stuck in our addictions, the substance takes center stage. The drugs and alcohol have a way of creeping in slowly, and then taking over as our main focus and pastime. Not only does it demand that we spend our time and energy on finding ways to use it, it simultaneously decreases our enjoyment for other things. Once we are rid of these sabotaging effects of the substances, it is time to rediscover our true passions.

We may not be able to go to our dream jobs every day, but we can still find time to pursue our favorite passions as a hobby. When we find –  and practice – what it is that we are most passionate about, not only do we enjoy a sense of fulfillment from our activity, but we also put ourselves in a position to meet others who share our interests. You can conduct an internet search for local programs and clubs

which focus on your passions, and can even join international societies as a way of sharing your interests with others.

If the desire is to actually make money off of doing what you love, there is always the option of returning to school for some retraining and certification. It has been said that, “if you do what you love, you never work a day in your life,” and schooling is the route that many take in order to make this concept a reality. The federal government will often subsidize this further education, through providing FAFSA grants and student loans. There is no need to worry about your age when considering a return to school, either. The average age of full-time college students has been steadily increasing, with the amount of students being over the age of 25 expected to increase by 50% over prior decades.


Gather a New Social Network

Think about how, while in addiction, it was always possible to find others who were in that same, low, state. This phenomenon works in the opposite way, as well. As we continue in our own successes, we will be heading along a path of attracting other, successful, people. Using your new tools and skills of right thinking and discernment, you will be better able to chose your friends more wisely.

The key to forming lasting, true, friendships is to find – and be – our true selves. When we are in a state of operating at our best, we will naturally attract others near our same stages of development. This idea is where the insightful phrase, “water seeks its own level,” comes in.


Give Back

Once we have crafted our life in a way that ensures that we are secure in our recovery, many former addicts will choose to find ways to use their knowledge and experiences to help others. Experience is often considered the best teacher, and those who have traversed the depths of darkness that addictions pull us into – and have survived – are often the best equipped to assist others in climbing out of that pit. The beauty in helping others is that everyone involved will benefit.

One of the best ways that we can show our gratitude toward others who have been there to assist us is by becoming that helping person, ourselves. There are many ways that this can be accomplished, and it is possible to find your own, customized, niche. If you are interested in public speaking, you can find opportunities to share your experiences with others by offering to speak at substance abuse meetings; at prisons; or during college courses for substance abuse counselors. If you are a writer, there are opportunities to publish articles, booklets, and blogs about what what you have learned. If you have a love for working with children, many programs for at-risk youth allow for volunteering as a mentor.

Tips for Finding Good Sober Friends

Tips For Finding Good Sober Friends

Friends stick with you through thick and thin, and are there when it matters the most – but when you go sober, you might quickly find that a lot of the people you once called ‘friends’ aren’t much for good company, let alone love and support. The bad news is that some friendships are built on that party life, and while that is well and good, there is a time when that sort of friendship simply is not viable anymore and you find yourself looking for bonds that are much more cerebral.

The good news is that it’s easier to meet people and make friends than it’s ever been, and communication today is so sophisticated and instant that it’s not only possible to make friends with someone you’ll never meet in person, it’s actually easy. Facetime, Google Duo, Skype, Snapchat, and a variety of other apps and tools have made face-to-face contact faster and more qualitative than ever before, even across hundreds or thousands of miles. Forget pen pals and SMS buddies, nowadays there are no limits as to where you might find conversational partners you can tit-for-tat with in real time.

And even if you’re looking for good friends to actually meet up with, the Internet is often an invaluable tool. But that doesn’t mean it’s your only way of befriending strangers. Before we get into all the ways you can find good sober friends nowadays, however, it might be important to mention why you should bother to begin with.


Why Friendship in Sobriety Matters

We need support. Whether it’s a village, a tribe, a family, or a community, there are always other people in our lives who we depend on, and who depend on us. Yet the need for a more personal, almost intimate level of support becomes obvious when we begin struggling with battles that may revolve around ‘life or death’.

The choice to go sober isn’t always well-received by those we once called friends, and the loss of that friendship can be a particularly hefty blow, especially early on in recovery. Furthermore, left without friends to help us through our toughest moments, the possibility of relapse becomes much more likely.

While dating is seen as a bad idea early on in sobriety, seeking out friendship is good. Partnership, intimacy, and companionship are much harder criteria to hit, and long-term compatibility and commitment depends largely on the results of an early trial period, where both individuals put a lot of themselves on the line. Rejection in romantic relationships is much more devastating than simply not hitting it off with a potential friend. But how does one start to look for a friend in sobriety?


Find Friends, Not Just Sober Acquaintances

Sobriety should not be the defining characteristic of a friendship. While it’s obviously important to find and make friends who support your recovery and don’t sabotage it by openly drinking or using around you (or, even better, are as committed to sobriety as you are), it’s also important to note that friendships are built on interests and experiences that go beyond a common life goal.

Having Facebook friends who go to sober meetings and struggle with sobriety in similar ways to you can be great and talking to them can provide interesting insight into how other people deal with some of the challenges you have faced. However, you are more likely to find friends by focusing on who they are and what they like to do, rather than how their life revolves around treating an addiction.


Finding New Friends in Recovery

Why not start right now? It’s a good idea to be friendly with the people you’re in recovery with, at the very least because it provides you with an opportunity to soak up a lot of knowledge and experience from people who might have been at this sober game longer than you have. Addiction strikes people from all kinds of backgrounds, and each journey is unique.

Sometimes, you might even find someone you mesh with particularly well, and you will both want to keep in touch long after the program has ended. These supportive bonds are important in post-program recovery, because they help remind you that you’re not alone in this, despite how it might feel sometimes.


Finding Friends Online

The internet can be a scary place, but if you keep your wits about you, it can also be an amazing place for discovering new people. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Meetup are just a couple of places that support fostering like-minded communities and meeting others around you with many of the same interests. There are also countless websites and online forums for people to exchange stories and organize local get-togethers for recovery.

There’s no guarantee you’re going to make friends, but the more time you spend meeting new people, the more likely you are to meet someone special.


Finding Friends Through Hobbies

Do you hit the gym? Do you like to run? Do you foster animals? Are you a plant person? Recovery provides many with another chance to discover what it is about living life sober that they enjoy the most, with many finding out that they have interests in topics and hobbies they would have never thought to try out in the past.

Broadening your horizons through creative and physical activities also provides you with a great opportunity to meet new people who are on that same path, but with wildly different backgrounds. Out of all the ways to make new friends, the easiest and most consistent is to pick something you’re truly passionate about and seek out others who share your passion. You might have more in common than you would think!

Perhaps the most important tip is to be open-minded, and curious. Don’t jump to conclusions or fall for prejudices, and instead be open to new ideas and personalities. Don’t be afraid to make friends with people who might challenge your beliefs, or who live a life so very different from yours. Seek common ground, but don’t look for clones. Friendships are a great opportunity to learn more about different racial and cultural backgrounds and have a greater understanding of the world and how alike we can be despite fundamental differences in upbringing.

Tips for Dealing with Newfound Sobriety

Tips for Dealing With Newfound Sobriety

The transition from drug use to long-term sobriety is not easy, and recovering addicts face their fair share of challenges along the way. And while everyone has unique obstacles to overcome, there are several common roadblocks that stand in the way for nearly anyone seeking to emancipate themselves from their addiction. Learning to deal with sobriety in the long-term is easier said than done, and it helps to know what to expect, and how to get by.


Beat the Boredom

The excitement and luster of freedom from addiction wears thin quickly, in what many recovering addicts describe as a ‘pink cloud’ of hope and optimism. After that, it becomes difficult to find any words to describe the basis of early sobriety other than ‘monotonous’. Successful recovery is built on structured schedules and effective routines, but to a mind craving psychoactive drugs and struggling with urges and other memories, finding effective distractions becomes incredibly important.

Sobriety in and of itself doesn’t cure a person’s addiction, because addiction cannot be cured. Recovering addicts will always be ‘addicts’ in the sense that the effects of addiction on the brain linger, but they can avoid drug use and live fulfilling lives by adapting to their condition and fighting back against any urges to use again – essentially rendering their addiction moot. One of the ways this is accomplished is by slowly learning to focus on other things for pleasure and recreation. Take up a new hobby, try out an old hobby, get competitive, learn an instrument, exercise your creativity, or spend more time exploring the world around you. Whatever it is that best floats your boat, pursue it.


Maintain Employment

One of the more effective ways to deal with newfound sobriety and maintain it in the long-term is to set up ways you can hold yourself accountable, and quickly adapt to the responsibilities of sober living. Many recovering addicts who are on the road to recovery after months spent struggling with severe addiction must readjust to the responsibilities of sobriety, from covering living costs and dealing with monthly bills and annual tax reports, to being accountable to others, avoiding tardiness at work and at social gatherings, and making an effort to be around others again.

Maintaining employment can be a big challenge for many who spent enough time out of the job market, and one of the struggles of newfound sobriety is juggling the many responsibilities that sober living requires with the challenge of staying clean in spite of the psychological and physical long-term effects of addiction. But because work is something we have to do day in and day out, week after week, it is a helpful path to utilize the effectiveness of consistency and routine as a way to quickly adapt to sober living.


Learn from Relapses

Even for recovering addicts with weeks or months of sobriety under their belts, relapses are a risk that never completely disappears. Yet instead of fearing a relapse, it’s important to recognize it as an invaluable tool for discovering weaknesses and effectively addressing them throughout the recovery process.

Learning from your relapses can help you recommit to sobriety in a more effective manner, by finding out what it is that led you to relapse to begin with, from long-term pressure and stress (indicating the need for better stress management and fewer sources of pressure), to a single, difficult event (revealing the need for better ways to deal with life-changing upsets, a stronger support system, and potential psychiatric aid).


Consider Sober Living

Sober living homes present a unique solution for recovering addicts struggling with the challenges of early sobriety for the first time, by giving them a drug-free environment wherein they can learn to adapt to their new situation and overcome any roadblocks without the fear or temptation of a relapse.

Sober living environments are also very conducive towards recovery, with group activities and recovery-oriented rulesets helping tenants and clients maximize their efforts by encouraging maintained employment, strict curfews, evenly distributed chores, and regular group therapy sessions.


Looking Back

As the months and years pass, it becomes more and more important to take the time to reflect and look back on how far you’ve come, and how you’ve progressed. Reflecting on the progress you’ve made is important, especially because we often tend to get caught up in the present and in the challenges we are yet to face, to the point that we forget how much we’ve already gone through, and how much we’ve changed in the process. Change is the purpose of addiction recovery and witnessing your own transformation over time can help give you the motivation to keep pushing forward in your commitment to sobriety.

Other than being motivated by your own progress, a retrospective also gives you the chance to feel grateful for the help you’ve received along the way and can give you the opportunity to express your gratitude to those who were there with you. Expressing gratitude not only helps those who cared for us know that they’re appreciated, but it also helps us feel better as well.

Gratitude also reminds us that despite the challenges we face, it’s ultimately important to focus on the positive changes and improvements we’ve made over time, rather than homing in on our mistakes and dwelling on past and forgiven errors. It’s important to learn from one’s mistakes, but it’s a mistake in and of itself to focus only on the bad, and not take the time to celebrate the good.

Newfound sobriety can be exciting, thrilling, and daunting. It’s normal to feel anxious or overwhelmed, and it’s normal to make mistakes, slip up, or even relapse. It takes time to effectively adjust, and while outpatient programs and sober living arrangements take a great deal of that initial pressure off a person, and help make the transition much easier and smoother, it’s important not to underestimate the power of patience and perseverance. Much of the fear and giddiness of early recovery will pass, and with it, you’ll find your own ideal routine and recovery plan. Surviving those first few months may be the most critical challenge.


Getting Through the First Year of Sobriety

Getting Through Your First Year of Sobriety

The first year is the hardest, and arguably the most important. While sobriety and drug recovery are a lifelong process, it has to begin somewhere – and the numbers show that it’s during the first year that people are most likely to relapse, struggle, or even give up on their sobriety.

Getting through that first year won’t guarantee that you’re no longer addicted, but it is likely to bring you to a mental and physical space where you’re much more capable of dealing with any of the feelings and emotions that may arise due to your addiction, from cravings and urges to sudden irritability and old memories. Here are a couple of important tips to get your through that first and crucial year of sobriety.


Be Wary of the Pink Cloud

The pink cloud is a term used to describe the onset of happy and hopeful emotions often experienced at the beginning of recovery. When you first go sober and make it through the withdrawal phase, it’s easy to look toward the future and see endless possibilities unfold before you now that you’re free from the oppressive shackles of a useless addiction, and free to pursue the future you’ve always wanted.

But these emotions are, sadly, always temporary, and often coupled with a rollercoaster-like plunge into a deep abyss of shame, depression, and loneliness. The pink cloud is good in the sense that you have every reason to be hopeful for the future, but it’s often an emotional bubble before a troubling crash.


Don’t Date

This might seem overly-cautious, but it’s a serious recommendation. Avoid new relationships until one year of full and complete sobriety. It’s a different matter entirely if you’re in an existing relationship with someone and they supported you throughout the recovery process, but in that case, it might be a good idea to temporarily avoid moving in together or give yourself enough time to focus on your sober living challenges before moving back in with your partner.

Having someone to be with in a steady and strong relationship is unbelievably valuable, but fresh relationships can often be very stressful and may lead to rejection and emotional turmoil, which is much harder to process in the beginning stages of recovery.


Don’t Buy Things

Or, to be more accurate, avoid major purchases. We all need food and clothing and gas money, but stay away from making new or major investments, getting a permanent place to live, jumping into a new business investment with your best friend, or otherwise moving a substantial amount of your wealth. Early sobriety is not the time to make life-changing decisions, especially ones you probably cannot take back, or ones that might leave you in financial ruin and oodles of distress.


Rehab Is Just the Beginning

Many recovering addicts go through a 30-60-day rehab program in the beginning of their recovery period, and while these programs are meant to prime you for what’s ahead, they are by no means the only programs you should consider attending throughout your recovery time.

Rehab leaves many people feeling confident in their future and ready to take on the challenges of sober living, but that feeling fades. It’s important to keep it alive, and to continuously nurture the motivation to stay sober. After rehab, consider enrolling in an outpatient program, in a sober living home, go to sober meetings, visit addiction specialists and therapists, and so on.


Focus on Diet

Some miss out on the difference that a better diet can make on a person’s long-term psychological and physical health, as well as recovery. A better diet should be a consistent one, one that a person can adopt and continue maintaining for years to come. Ideally, diets should also be crafted to avoid foods a person doesn’t agree with physically. Nutrition science is still a very green subject, and there is a lot to discuss and discover. Consider a hypoallergenic diet, and slowly reintroduce items that often cause food allergy issues in a variety of individuals, including grains, dairy products, certain meats, and more.


Focus on Exercise

Just as diet is important to helping the body recover from addiction, exercise can be an excellent emotional and physical outlet to help individuals find a way to release excess stress, manage their emotions during recovery, get a daily energy boost and mood regulation through regular release of endorphins, and find a physical hobby or sport they enjoy thoroughly. More than just keeping yourself in shape, exercise can drastically change a person’s mental health and help recovering addicts work against some of the emotional challenges they may be facing during early recovery.


Focus on New Friends

Old friends can sometimes be a problem when trying to recover from an addiction, especially if your old friends played a significant role in developing your old habit. It’s important to cut away from such friends and consider making new ones. Meeting new people isn’t just a good way to make new and lasting friendships, but it can also help you expand your horizons, make new experiences, open your mind to new thoughts and philosophies, and maybe encounter something fundamentally life-changing.


Focus on New Hobbies

Just as meeting new people can help you build new bonds and experience new things, finding new hobbies can help you take your mind off the addiction and create new memories of joy and fulfillment through a craft you enjoy, a physical accomplishment you have been seeking to reach, or a challenge you set out to master. Hobbies are about more than just having fun – they’re about finding a personal path towards self-improvement, emotional growth, and finding a way to develop as a person past who you were, and towards who you want to be.


Continue Therapy

Rehab is just the first step, and other recovery programs similarly help a person prepare for the future. But to make it through a year and further, consider seeking a one-on-one therapist with a history of working with recovering addicts. Real-time mental healthcare and advice can make a massive difference, not only over the course of year, but over several years.


It’s Always a Fight to Stay Clean

Living A Sober Life

Addiction recovery is a lifelong journey, rather than a finite and scheduled process. And while rehab and other recovery programs can help an addict survive the process of withdrawal and early recovery without relapsing, it can take years for a person to feel comfortable in their sobriety and live with a sense of peace regarding their past addiction. It’s important to understand that, because recovery is a lifelong process, the need for support and recovery resources extend far past the first few weeks of addiction treatment.

It’s critical to plan in the long-term. That means facing the possibility of more than one relapse, problems with cravings, and other similar challenges. As grueling as it might sound, there is no real state of “failure” in recovery. As long as you haven’t given up, you’re still in recovery.

Is that a bad thing? The answer to that is that it’s a matter of perspective. It’s neither good nor bad, it simply is – but how you might choose to view it heavily affects your chances at successfully maintaining sobriety. Coming to terms with the reality of your circumstances and making the best of what you have is important when wanting to overcome an addiction. While difficult, for many, it’s going to be important to learn to embrace the recovery process, and understand that the struggle to stop using is a part of who you are now, regardless of whether you identify with any specific philosophy of sobriety, or are exploring what it means to be sober without a sober group.


Why Recovery Is a Lifelong Process

Addiction is not an illness that has a definitive cure. Instead, it is a condition that appears chronic in nature, and must be managed and controlled. Anyone can become addicted, and the potential to be addicted to a substance is something most people are born with. It’s only through repeated drug use and a number of other factors that an addiction comes to be – but once the brain forms a connection to a certain drug, breaking that connection becomes very difficult. It’s impossible to fully wipe away the memory of addiction, and even after decades of sobriety, cravings and memories may still persist, especially in times of stress.

Because the cravings might never fully go away, any recovering addict needs a number of reasons to stay away from the drugs that once consumed them. Sober life, rather than a penance or an escape, must be a second chance at life, one that a recovering addict takes full advantage of so as not to be persuaded back into using again.

However, it’s not feasible to live a great life every day. We all have ups and downs, and while recovery programs focus on helping recovering addicts make the most of their sober living, it’s also important to learn to rely on others to help get them through the hardest days. Whether through AA sponsors, role models, family members, close partners, or best friends, we all need people we can rely on to help us in our darkest hours. On the other hand, we owe it to ourselves to minimize the impact and frequency of those hard and harsh days.


You Must Have Fun

Drug recovery begins with the process of withdrawal, helping recovering addicts overcome the physical and emotional challenges of the first few weeks of sobriety. But after the withdrawal symptoms end, other challenges come into view. Living a sober life can be very difficult for many, especially for those who have spent several years struggling with addiction.

For one, severe cases of addiction and physical dependence also struggle with greater cravings. On the other hand, living life without the use of drugs to soothe pain (both physical and emotional) is often harder for recovering addicts than for other people. The brain has learned to completely rely on drugs as a coping mechanism and can only slowly recover through a long period abstinence.

To remain sober, many recovery programs and recovering addicts insist on the importance of having something to focus on. Whether it’s a hobby, a passion, or a job, time spent in recovery should not be invested for the sake of recovery, but for the sake of other more tangible forms of personal growth: to learn new skills, acquire experiences, meet new people, and think new thoughts. And, of course, to have fun. Addiction can often leave people bereft of the ability to feel pleasure – it’s important to find better and healthier ways of feeling good, even if they don’t provide the kind of high you might be used to.

Moderate exercise, an exciting or adrenaline-pumping experience, an extended walk through nearly untouched nature, and a healthy, fibrous, and nutritious meal can promote the release of endorphins, reduce the depressive and anxious thoughts that sometimes accompany recovery, and help you ease into a long-term sober life.


Maintaining a Long-Term Commitment

Long-term is the keyword here – a lifelong commitment to being sober might not be feasible at first, given how many struggle to avoid a relapse early on in their recovery, but it does get easier over time. A large part of that ties back to how the brain recovers from drug use over time and regains its former make up and structure. However, much of it also hinges on the changes you commit to throughout the recovery process, from your first day at rehab, to your first anniversary celebrating sobriety, and beyond.

Rehab, which typically lasts one or two months, is not enough to keep someone motivated for life. Recovery must be a life-long process, with a continued commitment through group meetings, contacts with other recovering addicts, efforts at sponsorship, regular therapy sessions, or other ways.

Thankfully, this is not a fight you have to fight alone. The relatives you stood by you during recovery to the friends and loved ones you meet over time, as well as those who helped you through the first few months of recovery and continued to help in the form of the treatments and therapies, all play an instrumental role in your continued sobriety – just as you can aim to play an instrumental role in someone else’s journey. The fight doesn’t end, and it has its ups and downs, but it does get a little easier over time.


Setting Boundaries During Recovery

Setting Boundaries During Recovery

Boundaries are important for anybody, but they’re especially important during early recovery. As a person makes the transition from a life of addiction into their sober life, they have to come to terms with several unique challenges as they adapt to the circumstances they are faced with outside of their addiction. Depending on what they have done and how much time has passed, going sober after years of being addicted can be very daunting. Among the many changes you have to get used to, there is the fact that interacting with others may be somewhat difficult, especially if you feel you’ve hurt them, or if they feel you’ve done them wrong.

Coming to terms with what you’ve done and finding a way to mend broken bonds and overcome any feelings of self-hatred or anger is very challenging. Because it’s such a delicate time for most people, it’s important to respect the role that a healthy set of boundaries can play when helping someone adjust from being addicted to becoming a sober person.

To make effective use of boundaries during recovery, it’s important to understand what they are, how they can be helpful and problematic, and how using them effectively will mean understanding what is best for you and your recovery, as well as knowing how you’re going to have to move forward to help heal old wounds.


What Are Boundaries?

Boundaries are, very simply, rules of engagement for yourself and others when interacting. We often go our entire lives without thinking about boundaries, until we realize that we’ve employed them time and time again. A boundary in this sense is any measure we take to control the way we interact with others. Boundaries can be extremely helpful for your own mental health and for the wellbeing of others, or they can be destructive and harmful.

For example: good boundaries allow you to coexist with a loved one without constantly being up in arms against each other on specific topics. Bad boundaries actively impede your ability to communicate with one another, causing significant problems including alienation. Good boundaries include knowing when you draw the line in a conversation and decide to stand up for yourself. Bad boundaries are accepting no form of criticism whatsoever and blowing up in anyone’s face when they so much as dare to make a non-positive comment.

Boundaries are versatile and necessary for our ability to assert who we are, what we tolerate, and how we protect our identity and mental health. For those who struggle with addiction, healthy boundaries can help them maintain a better sense of self and avoid many issues related to self-esteem problems and guilt. For those who live with someone struggling with addiction, setting up proper boundaries can save the both of you a significant amount of grief.


Why It’s Important to Set Boundaries for Yourself

Recovery can be a difficult time, but it can be made significantly more difficult by a lack of understanding or a callous approach by others around you. Even if they mean well, a lack of compassion can fuel fears deep within many addicts that their addiction is something they deserved, or something they cannot overcome. Rather than seeing boundaries as a way to control a conversation, consider how words and sentiments heavily affect you when a loved one or a friend crosses a line they didn’t know existed. Making these lines clear is not being ‘demanding’ or overly sensitive. It is common decency not to verbally hurt those around us for no reason, and it’s vital to recognize that we all interpret hurt in different ways.

Consider how you want to be treated, apply the golden rule. Treat others as you want to be treated and let them know where you draw the line. This is especially important when considering things such as humor or topics of conversation. If you feel uncomfortable discussing your days as an addict or recounting memories of drug use, then simply create a boundary that is not to be crossed. If you feel that there are certain jokes you just cannot take without getting upset, be sure to mention it in such a way that your friends and family members know not to joke about certain things. You can’t forbid anyone from laughing at anything or saying anything, but you can enforce your boundaries by making it clear that you do not want to spend time around people who repeatedly ignore your boundaries and make a mockery of them.

As easy as it is to intimidate someone into disregarding their own boundaries and just going on with the abuse, that attitude can quickly lead to depressive thoughts, anxieties surrounding social occasions, and a significantly growing risk of relapse.


Setting Relationship Boundaries During Recovery

It can be especially difficult to set boundaries during a relationship, because we often work hard to maintain a healthy relationship and fear that anything that might ‘upset’ the nature of the relationship could end badly. But it is precisely with those that matter most to us that we must pay the closest attention to the way we communicate.

Consider if any of the discourse you’ve recently had with a loved one has left you feeling upset, sick, or resentful. Arguments are not inherently unhealthy, and it’s not wrong to sense a conflict between yourself and someone you care about. But analyze how you feel about the interactions you’ve had recently and whether they’re fair, or whether there is a one-sided approach wherein one party has all the power to criticize, and the other struggles to get a word in.

Making changes to yourself and your lifestyle is part of the recovery process. But if you feel that instead of support and compassion, your efforts are met with resentment or further criticism, it’s time to take a step back and consider if you need some time to be alone with your thoughts or in the company of other people to figure out your boundaries.

Another example of when to define boundaries is when you find yourself in a situation where you feel obligated to support your partner or do as they do but are in conflict with your own beliefs and morals. Should you value your opinion over your partner’s? Make an exception? Work towards a compromise? If you fear that you can’t stay sober at a family function, consider drawing a line and decide not to attend events that you feel endanger your health and sobriety. Or, make a compromise, by going with someone, staying only a short while, and completely avoiding alcohol. And so on.

Boundaries apply to yourself and they apply to those around you. Consider how your actions might lead to moments of temptation and unnecessary grief for yourself and those around you and consider where in the sand a line needs to be drawn to avoid all that. Consider your limits in the interaction with others, and how their words and thoughts might negatively impact your goals in recovery. Yes, not caring what others say and think is a lofty aspiration, but we are social creatures and we do care quite a lot about how others perceive us. Making the right choices and respecting your own needs is part of the recovery process.