Three Reasons To Get Sober

3 Reasons To Get Sober

Everyone in substance abuse has their own reasons for beginning, and sustaining, the addictive behavior. Similarly, each addict has to find his or her own motivation for quitting. While being nagged at by someone else rarely results in sobriety, those who care about your health and safety often feel compelled to do it, anyway. They may bring up several different reasons why it is important that you recover from your addiction.

Depending on your particular approach toward life and the values which you hold most dear, one of these reasons to get sober may prove to be more motivating than the others. Whichever reason you can find to compel you toward getting sober, jump on that train.

 

Reason #1: Your Physical Health

There is something about human beings which makes it easy to consider ourselves invincible. Often, we ignore warnings until the point where they cease to become merely warnings, and progress into becoming our reality. In spite of our tendency to figure that such unfortunate consequences will not befall us, it is worth hearing repeated messages about the empirical evidence of health detriments that are related to prolonged substance abuse.

In addition to the ever-present danger of immediate death, there are a multitude of chronic conditions which can develop as a result of substance abuse. Depending on your drug of choice, these dangers can range from heart disease; cancer; tooth rot; infections; liver failure; and brain damage. Once activated, these difficulties will remain with you, even if you later choose to live a life of sobriety. Picture your life of sobriety. Now picture your life of sobriety with these conditions accompanying it.

The negative physical effects of substance abuse can also be more subtle. The dehydrating effects of many substances can result in headaches, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and fatigue. The lingering and after-effects of being drunk or high can leave your brain in a mental fog, unable to concentrate or process information properly. In no way is one in top physical condition following a binge or bender. In fact, it is said that we are taking days off of our life each time we use.

 

Reason #2: Your Relationships

Most substance abuse screening tools include a question about the opinions of others on your substance usage. Our lives do not exist in a bubble, and nor do our substance abuse behaviors. What we are doing to ourselves through addiction is also impacting our friends and family. We are not able to be our best selves for those we care about when we are high or drunk.

For those who have children in the home, there is the ever-present threat of losing them to social services. Even in the absence of outright abuse, being under the influence of drugs or alcohol can be considered to be a form of child neglect. It is often assumed – rightly or not – that a parent who is using substances is not able to properly supervise children or provide for their basic, daily, needs. It only takes the anonymous report of a teacher, neighbor, friend, or enemy, and social service workers can end up knocking on your door.

Marriages and other intimate partner arrangements also suffer when one or both parties are misusing substances.  The time spent engaging in quality conversation and activity is reduced, and the tendency to argue increases. In the worst scenarios, the anger produced through a combination of substance abuse and arguing can end up being expressed through punches and kicks. The presence of partner neglect, frequent arguments, or physical abuse can eventually spell the end of the relationship.

Divorce proceedings in which substance abuse is alleged rarely go well for the party with the addiction.

The friends and neighbors of someone in addiction can also grow weary of providing support. There are only so many middle-of-the night phone calls that most friends are willing to take, and the neighbors can grow tired of hearing the fighting and late-night activities going on at your place. Eventually, the entire social support system of someone in addiction can break down, leaving the addict lonely and isolated.

 

Reason # 3: Your Productivity

Have you ever thought about how many hours of a day are lost to your addictive behaviors? When it comes to planning for, engaging in, and recovering from, chances are good that a majority of your time is spent in servitude to the substance. These are hours and days which could be better applied toward any number of fulfilling and productive activities.

Studies show that 49 billion dollars in days of work are lost to calling in sick with a hangover, and substance-related problems cost the economy more than 250 billion dollars, annually. Using these numbers as an incentive, take some time to calculate your own contribution to these statistics. Take a look at how much money you have lost to recovering, or at how many sick days you no longer have stored up for emergencies.

Even if you are one who manages to make it to work each day, in spite of addiction, chances are good that time is lost once you get back home. Drugs and alcohol impair the sleep cycle, meaning that it is likely that the next day is spent being groggy. The body will be craving good sleep, which can result in heading straight for the bed after work. Time spent in bed gaining that extra sleep means less time spent cooking, cleaning, working on a project, or spending time with family.

Closely related to the idea of current productivity is the eventuality of the future. Picture your life 10 years from now. Children will be older. Retirement age will be closer. These current years will not occur again. Your contributions toward the future that you want to live in are happening now. In order for your future hopes to materialize, it requires that certain steps be made in the today. Since it is today that you are reading this, this is the time for you to take such steps.

Find the help you need, undergo addiction treatment, and surround yourself with others who share the same goal of sobriety.

Sobriety Isn’t An Instant Cure All – But Does Set You On The Right Path

Sobriety isn't A Cure All

It has wisely been noted that, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Nowhere does this adage apply more than on the road to recovery. The decision to get – and stay – sober is a crucial one. It is the decision which sets the rest of one’s life into productive motion. It is, however, a first step. There are many steps remaining for the person who truly desires the transformation to a rewarding life of sobriety.

Expecting that life around us will change overnight is setting ourselves up for disappointment. We may have made our decision to change in an instant, but the rest of our world will need the chance to catch up. Just as our life of addiction wasn’t established in a day, our new reality of sobriety will need to be similarly constructed. New perspectives will need to be developed, and old wounds will need to be tended to. Some of the structures of our old life will need to be torn down, and new roads will need to be forged through unexplored territories.

Making the initial decision to live a sober life is what makes all of this eventual change possible. Approaching life through a sober viewpoint makes for a very different journey, and one which can be expected to have a long lasting, positive, impact on the future. When buckling down for the inevitable work which is required toward such progress, you can take heart in the fact that your choice of sobriety is the key to opening all of these future doors.

 

New Habits Take Time to Establish

When using drugs or alcohol, there is an instant reward which is delivered. That reward may come in the form of increased positive feelings, or decreased negative feelings. It may come as a boost of energy and focus, or it may deliver some needed relaxation. The use of substances to produce these desired states comes with a severe downside, however, which many later seek to rid themselves of. The good news is that these same benefits which are gained from the substance use can be found through more healthy means, and through routines which don’t come with the negative consequences.

Experts have noted that there are definitive patterns to forming a habit. The first aspect has to do with associating a certain place, feeling, thought, or action with a desire. You might, for instance, feel an urge to kick your shoes off as soon as you come home from work, or have an urge to eat something as soon as you step into your parents’ house. These scenarios form the trigger, or antecedent, for a habitual behavior.

The second aspect of a habit is to engage in the action which the situation has produced a desire for. Kicking off your shoes might be the action which results in your feeling like you are leaving the stress of work behind. Getting into mom’s cupboards to find something good to eat might produce a good feeling of childlike wellbeing. We do these habitual things because we know that there is a mental or emotional reward which follows them.

When it comes to substance abuse, it is this second stage of habit which many will find as taking the longest to change. Initially, trigger scenarios which have been related to the action of using a substance will tend to pop up quite regularly. You might even be surprised at how many situations, feelings, and thoughts you have associated with the drug or alcohol use. These triggers will be recognized by the strong urge that you will feel to return to using your drug of choice. Refusing to engage in that, specific, behavior is your task.

It has been found that it is much easier to say ‘yes’ to something than it is to say ‘no.’ While simply deciding not to indulge your trigger response with substance use may work in a pinch, it is better to have a plan in place to replace the old actions with better ones. The next time a temptation to use substances arises, take a moment to consider what it is that you would normally gain from the drug. Then, make a purposeful point to engage in an alternative behavior toward the same result. Over time, your brain will learn to associate this new behavior with the old triggers, and your temptations to use substances will begin to fade into the background.

 

Relationships Will Take Time to Adjust

Another hurdle that will be found along your journey will be that of repairing relationships. Similarly to how your own habits have to be changed following the decision to live sober, the habitual responses of others around you will need to become accustomed to this new version of you. Particularly if there has been a large amount of strife surrounding your substance abuse, you can anticipate needing to give time for others to learn that you have truly changed your behavior.

You are the only one who knows your true motivations and intentions. For everyone around you, it is your behaviors, over time, which clue them in to your genuine resolve toward change. Be prepared for their reactions toward you, during this early stage, to be very similar to the reactions which they had while you were using.

Often times, our loved ones are very scared that we are going to return to our former habits of drug or alcohol use, and they will be on high alert for any cues which seem to indicate the presence of that behavior. It will take time for them to observe and grow comfortable with the fact that your trigger situations are now followed by new, healthier, actions. Forgiving someone for past behavior can take place in an instant, but learning to trust that person for the future is a much longer process. Be patient with both yourself, and your loved ones, as your journey into a life of sobriety progresses.

 

 

 

 

Tips For Making A Successful Transition To Sober Life

Transitioning Back Into Sober Life

Becoming sober can be like an experience of being reborn. Your brain and body need to relearn how to operate without the influence of the substances. You will need to learn new ways of seeing the world; new ways of communicating with others; and new ways of handling emotions. You will need to retrain your behaviors, so that your former, more primitive, instincts are not driving your addictive actions.

The biggest difference between this type of development, and the comparison to being born, is that the person in recovery is responsible for his or her own self. While it is extremely useful to have others around to coach and assist during the early stages, the recovering adult is the one calling all of the shots.

For recovery to begin, there are two important factors at play. You have to really want it, and you have to be able to envision that there is a viable way out of the addiction. The first aspect is something highly personal to the person who is seeking recovery. The following tips are designed to assist with the second aspect.

 

Have a Plan

You may have heard the quote, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” These words ring true for most aspects of life, and recovery is no exception. While the initial desire to cease with substance abuse is the spark of life needed for making a change, it isn’t enough to sustain a person for the long term. Long term success requires looking ahead, and marking out specific goals and milestones for your recovery. It involves knowing where you are, and knowing where you want to go. It involves plotting out the road trip for how to arrive at your eventual destination of full recovery.

If you are part of a sobriety team, these professionals can help you to outline your plan. Otherwise, your map of success will need to include a basic structure of your daily activities; a system of how you will spend your newly gained, sober, energy; and how you will address the underlying issues which prompted you toward the addiction, in the first place. You will need to discern potential triggers and pitfalls, and devise preemptive strategies for how to avoid temptations to go back to the substance abuse.

 

Concentrate on Small Steps

While keeping the long term goals of your sobriety in mind is vital for sustaining the initiative, it is also important that you take the time to appreciate the smaller goals which are reached. Reaching these smaller milestones will provide you with a sense of accomplishment, which will, in turn, embolden you toward reaching the next. Past success is the best predictor of future success, and the small steps made in the beginning of recovery will form the basis of your new past.

Depending on the extremity of your addiction, these baby steps can be as simple as making it through a day without using. They can consist of sitting down to make a list of action steps, or writing a letter to loved ones. They can consist of scheduling an appointment with a therapist, and then attending it. Whatever your daily plan consists of, count each day that you are sober as a success. Remember the ancient proverb which explains that, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Take the time to pat yourself on the back for each of these steps which are made.

 

Build Healthy Relationships

Humans need other humans. Whether we are social butterflies, or prefer to spend more of our time alone, having a few people whom we know we can depend on is vital for success. While in addiction, the social circle we surround ourselves with is most often not comprised of those who are desiring our best outcomes. Like tends to attract like,  and our new self of sobriety often calls for a new set of relationships.

There is an old adage which admonishes that, “The only way to have a friend is to be one.” While therapists and substance abuse disorder specialists might become your initial support group, it is important to focus on the eventual obtainment of more natural friendships. Work on becoming the type of person whom you would want to be friends with, yourself, and then seek those same traits out in others. Your own positive vibes, as you progress in your new life of sobriety, will likewise attract them to you.

 

Focus on Self-Care

As much as your family and loved ones may have insisted that you needed to get sober, this journey is really all about you. We aren’t able to truly find happiness until we learn to properly love ourselves, and finding happiness is a key to sustaining recovery. When happiness fills our hearts, the temptation to use substances becomes much less powerful.

Initially, implementing self care practices can seem foreign. It can even seem a little selfish. Proper self care involves defining boundaries, and learning to say no to some of the requests of others. In order to sustain the energy you need to apply toward retraining your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, you will need to learn to keep enough back for yourself.

In addition to not giving too much of your energy out, you will also need to learn ways to refill your tank. In addiction, the substance is used as a substitute for genuine peace of mind and emotion. In sobriety, you will need to become more creative in your approach toward obtaining the same – or better – levels of contentment. Identify what activities provide you with the biggest boost of natural high, and be purposeful toward including those activities in your daily or weekly schedule. Treat your self-care time as a requirement, and don’t allow it to be sacrificed in the name of things which are declared as being more important. Most obligations can afford to wait while you tend to your own self-care needs, and you will be better equipped to face your challenges, because of it.

Five Sober Date Ideas

Try These Five Sober Date Ideas - Transcend Texas

Using alcohol as a substitute for genuine fun can eventually come back to bite us. Over time, the brain learns to wait on the alcohol before relaxing. When we attempt to go without it, our minds rebel.

Even things which we formerly found enjoyable can begin to look bleak and uninteresting once our brains have developed an alcohol dependency. We can be tempted to reintroduce the substance as a way of negating the doldrums.

When we are first getting away from the idea of alcohol being a part of our every social gathering, it can be difficult to think of activities that can produce enough enjoyment.

Learning how to have fun without alcohol can take some time, but the reward of persistence is that our brains relearn how to produce enough feel-good chemicals to sustain us without any outside assistance.

Here are five ideas for exciting – and bonding – dates to try out while sober.

 

1. Tour the World Through Cuisine

It has been said that a person who is adventurous with food is adventurous toward life.

You might not have the time or money necessary to visit different countries to sample their authentic fare, but most cities have several options available for ethnic eating exploration.

Try making a list of all of the different types of food which are available in your area, and visit a new location each date night. You can learn a lot about yourself – and your date – through discussing the experience of tasting foreign food.

If there are not a lot of restaurant options where you are, you can opt to share the same type of experience through cooking together at home. The internet is full of recipe options, and most ethnic food items can be ordered online. Preparing food together can enhance the bonding experience of the date, even further.

 

2. Go On A Quest

Have you ever been on a scavenger hunt?

These activities are gaining popularity throughout the country. They are a great way to get to know a new city, or to become better acquainted with your old one, and can be a fun bonding experience for a couple to complete together.

Messages and clues are hidden throughout the city, and proof of your finds are verified through snapping a picture. The time slots are flexible, and reservations aren’t usually required for groups of two.

If there isn’t one of these particular outfits located nearby, you can make up your own game. Armed with a smartphone and the locations of a few thrift stores, make a list of objects to find. The list can consist of objects from different decades, or of items that will resell for a certain dollar value.

Once one partner completes the list, he or she is declared the winner!

 

3. Spend Time In Nature

There is something about getting away from the bustle and bright lights of the city that can make for a romantic time. Amidst the chirping birds and the rustling trees, thoughts tend to settle and center around the deeper aspects of life.

Sitting around a crackling campfire and gazing at the stars can provide the opportunity for you and your date to really get to know one another. If you have the time, you can make your nature date into a whole weekend of camping.

If you and your date are the athletic type, this kind of date can also turn into some exhilarating exercise. Hike some trails or – if you are able to manage the equipment – do some rock climbing.

Many nature resorts have rental boats and kayaks available for some white water adventure. Studies have shown that doing something exhilarating while on a date can increase attraction levels, and can be what takes this nature trip over the top for both of you.

 

4. Try Gaming Together

Gaming has been a staple of Generation X, and it shows no sign of decreasing in importance for the younger generations. Several companies have even brought the gaming world into real life, through building facilities which place us into scenarios which were formerly only found on-screen.

Escape rooms work through locking you in with your date, and encouraging you to work together on finding the solutions to puzzles.

If you prefer more competitive play, laser tag gaming centers will allow you to find out which one of you is the superior combatant.

And for those who like to take it slow, miniature golf is still around after all this time, as well.

If these external gaming ideas aren’t enough to lure you away from the house, console gaming is still an option.

The availability of games of every style, taste, and genre is continually increasing, so the chances of finding something that both you and your date can enjoy playing are good.

Make sure the interest continues to stay mutual, though, or else you risk making your partner into a video game widow. Cooperative games can work to keep you on the same page, and can also reveal some very interesting relationship dynamics when it comes to working together as a couple.

 

5. Share Music Interests

Compatibility in music tastes plays a powerful role in relationships. There is a whole psychology behind why we are drawn to the music that we like, and being open to exploring the musical tastes of our partner can make for a connection on a deeper level.

If you and your partner share a love of music, create dates around your favorite bands.

If you have the time and money – and if location isn’t a barrier – take your date to a monthly concert. Several live music websites are available, allowing you to track who is coming to a town near you.

Local festivals and coffee houses are another potential venue, and have the added bonus of exposing you both to something new.

For those who aren’t prone to get out much, try trading a new song from your playlist with your partner, each day. Getting to know why each of you likes a particular band or song can make for great date conversation.

Don’t Worry About What Others Think of Your Sobriety

Don't Worry About What Others Think of Your Sobriety - Transcend Texas

What we know as “peer pressure” is actually an adaptive evolutionary process gone awry. Human beings are social creatures, and societies are able to be built due to our mutual agreements of norms and acceptable behaviors.

When we are in addiction, the societies – or sub cultures – that we belong to tend to be those which find substance use and abuse to be one of those acceptable behaviors.

Within your former social circle, the consideration of addiction as the only way to live may be so extreme that changing your behaviors, through deciding to get sober, can be enough to ostracize you from the group. Alternatively, you may choose to leave such a group, on your own accord, due to the desire to surround yourself with more positive influences.

Whether you are continuing to interact with those who find your sobriety to be offensive, or choosing to set out on your own about it, the key is to be able to hold your head high.

The following are three ways which you can utilize toward being free of worry that your decision to lead a new, sober, life is anything but perfect.

 

1. Increase Your Confidence Level

You have probably heard the popular phrase, “fake it until you make it.” In some cases, the idea of faking our abilities may be abhorrent. We certainly wouldn’t feel good to lie about who we are, or about what we are actually capable of. When it comes to confidence, however, there is a different way of looking at it.

Small acts of confidence tend to breed more confidence, which means that we have to start somewhere. When leaving our old life of addiction, and embarking on our new life of sobriety, we may find that we have to rewrite our confidence script.

For those who are not used to acting assertively in their sobriety, taking that first step toward acting confidently about our opinions and decisions can feel quite awkward. Overcoming that initial awkward feeling is where the “faking” part comes in.

You may be thinking self-defeating thoughts, such as believing that you are not worthy of speaking up, or thinking that no one cares to listen. You may be experiencing uncomfortable feelings, such as fear of failure or of ultimate rejection.

In order to make a move toward increased confidence, those thoughts and feelings must be consciously overridden or ignored.

Two of the most utilized techniques for vetoing negative thoughts and feelings are positive self-talk and mindfulness.

With positive self-talk, you are able to use your own, inner, voice to argue against the negative impressions. Some will even find it useful to find a solitary space, and speak the positive counterarguments aloud.

With mindfulness, each negative thought or feeling is permitted to arise during the moment. Rather than allowing it to stay around and fester, however, mindfulness teaches us to have the experience pass on by. Once acknowledged, the negative thoughts can be replaced by thoughts which apply to the person that we wish to become.

 

2. Find Others Who Support Your Progress

Another route toward increasing confidence is related to our social support. When we are surrounded by others who share our recovery-oriented insights and perspectives, we can receive a boost of confidence through their affirmations.

Hearkening back to the concept of humans surviving through social inclusion, a solution for rejection by counterproductive peers is to replace their influence.

Research has shown that positive social support is important for both beginning, and sustaining, recovery. Being around others who are set on a path of success and wellness can work as an inspiration for ourselves.

Rather than being pulled down by those who are still in their addictions, we can be pulled upward by the presence of accountability to those who have our genuine best interests at heart.

In addition to the social support which you may have found during the classes, groups, and meetings associated with your recovery process, there are opportunities to surround yourself with those who are positioned for future success.

Spend some time in consideration of where you want to find yourself in a few years, and then seek those who are already in that space. This could mean applying for a new job, or finally enrolling in that college program that you always dreamed of completing.

The important aspect is that you have friends and supporters who help to keep you looking forward, and don’t attempt to drag you backward.

 

3. Become A Leader in Life

During addiction, the undisputed leader of your life is the substance. Your period of recovery is the time that you take that leadership role back. You may find that you are not only the reestablished leader of your own life, but that you are also equipped with the insight and abilities which call you toward a position of leading others.

Those who excessively worry about what others think of them are rarely in leadership positions. Being a leader requires the guts to stand for what you know is right. It calls for the ability to stand firmly by a decision which has been made with rational, long term, foresight. It comes with the charge of effectively managing emotions, and establishing patterns of behavior – or good habits – which can be aspired to and emulated by others.

While discussion of leadership is often presented within the confines of workplace roles, it is often most important to be considered a leader in life. Simply living out your new resolutions toward success can place you in such a position, as it provides others with hope that they, too, are capable of making changes for the better.

If you are interested in more formal ways of leading others toward wellness, there are opportunities for becoming a mentor, counselor, or life coach. The benefits of adding such a credential to your toolbox include not only the personal satisfaction which comes from leading others toward victory, but can also result in a means of paying the bills.

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.