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.

Replacing Addiction with Other Hobbies After Recovery

Hobbies During After Recovery

Whether as a distraction, an inspiration, or as a way to experience some form of escapism and cope with some of life’s harsher realities, it’s critical to the survival of our sanity that we have some fun. Fun is highly subjective, differing from person to person. What one person might consider fun can be unbelievably boring and disengaging to someone else. And that’s okay. But the crucial thing is satisfying that need for entertainment, to a healthy degree.

Coming off of an addiction, finding something to match or replace it can be daunting. The biggest challenge when trying to have fun in a post-addiction world is that nothing will ever top a high. At least, not when given the same criteria. Objectively, drugs are as addictive as they are because something about their chemical composition has such a profound effect on the brain that it becomes physically dependent on the drug’s presence over time. Psychologically, this becomes a bond forged by an experience that isn’t possible without substance abuse. Addictive drugs are an injection of euphoria into the brain – and that’s a bad thing.

Everything in comparison dulls as the brain normalizes drug use. This is in part why so many people cannot continue to dedicate themselves to old hobbies and activities after becoming addicted. So, the question becomes: how can someone reverse this? It all starts with expectations.


Know What to Expect

Not everyone experiences a total remission of all cravings and thoughts of drug use. Many recovering addicts continue to think back to their addicted days decades after last using. Over time, these thoughts are weaker, less tempting, and farther apart, but for many they do not ever disappear. And that is okay. You can learn to live with these thoughts, ignore them, and lead an entire life without wasting any time on them.

But in that same vein, this means that viscerally, nothing will ever surpass the sheer effect an addiction has on the brain. And that’s okay. Instead of chasing thrills, looking for ways to get your rocks off, or seeking that emotional high, try to focus instead on hobbies and activities that satisfy your needs in ways drug use never would and never will. Challenge yourself physically and cognitively, expand your knowledge of the world, learn a new skill and set a goal for yourself over the coming weeks to master an aspect of it, or feel what it’s like to build, forge, or create something with your own two hands. Learn to cherish life’s experiences for more than just the instant gratification you receive out of them, but for the overall and lifelong value they impart.


Hobbies, Not Obsessions

One of the problems with addiction is that it is all consuming. A person with an addiction is incapable of properly identifying where their priorities should lie, instead focusing everything on the task of getting high and securing the next high. It’s not a matter of choice for them. It becomes harder and harder to function as an addiction progresses, eating away at a person’s cognitive abilities and leaving them to struggle to provide for their own addictive habits.

A hobby should not become your sole reason for living. Hobbies are meant to be healthy outlets for a person’s inner expressive and creative self, outlets to let loose emotionally and physically, outlets to relieve stress and have fun. But when the hobby becomes more important than family, than work, than eating and sleeping right, then you find yourself in a position where you take a healthy coping mechanism and turn it into something maladaptive. Maladaptive coping mechanisms, rather than helping someone develop the means to overcome a challenge, provide a meaningless and temporary escape from the problem, causing the problem to grow and fester and become more unmanageable and difficult over time.

Prevent your hobbies from consuming you by keeping a strict barrier between your hobbies and your responsibilities.


Relearning How to Spend Your Time

Creating a healthy work-life balance and finding the right way to engage in normal activities and hobbies while still finding the time to dedicate to daily responsibilities are important tasks for any adult. However, many recovering addicts struggle immensely with adjusting to these challenges. Sober living homes are the perfect halfway point between rehab and regular living for most recovering addicts, giving them the structure and direction necessary to become self-disciplined and maintain a healthy work-life balance, while encouraging social interaction, healthy lifestyle choices, and a daily commitment to continued addiction recovery.

It takes time to adjust to sober living in a healthy way, especially if you spent years struggling with addiction and its various consequences. Many recovering addicts have an incredible work ethic but may still find it difficult to manage their time efficiently. Stricter schedules and routines, such as those in sober living communities, can help tremendously in early recovery, giving you the right sense of time to enjoy life and be productive.


Finding and Picking Out New Hobbies

It’s always a good bet to return to old hobbies and try out old activities when first recovering from an addiction, but this isn’t always the best way to find out what it is that you really enjoy. Consider spending some time checking out new hobbies and challenging yourself to do things and try things you’ve never done. While you might find quite quickly that you do not particularly enjoy making pastries or learning to code, you might just discover a passion for training animals, or an interest in foreign languages, a hidden love for poetry, or a knack for writing mysteries. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt in everything you do and try it before you knock it.


Hobbies in The Long-Term

Addiction recovery is a very long-term process, lasting a lifetime in the eyes of many. That’s a lot of time to explore new hobbies and spend time doing the things that you enjoy the most. But it’s important to vary things up and consider spending time doing new things every now and again. Keeping your free time activities fresh and engaging is important, especially in the first few months of recovery, to help stave off cravings and limit the urge to feed old habits.

Forgoing Alcohol at Your New Year’s Celebration

Happy New Year Without Alcohol

One of the hardest places for any addict to be in is a party. There are a bunch of places that are pretty tough, but parties take the cake. From celebrations to raves to birthdays, anything with the potential for high levels of booze is a big no-no – unless, of course, you control the party.

If you’re headed to, setting up, or hosting a New Year’s celebration, it’s worth keeping in mind that New Year’s Eve is by far the booziest night of the entire year, bar only Mardi Gras. People are used to binge drinking on New Year’s, and if you’re not in New Orleans, it’s pretty likely that most people in your city are going to be drinking more than they have all year round on the year’s last day.

From the perspective of the average person, it’s easy to see why. It’s the last day of the year – so people grab the initiative to go all out, let loose, and deal with the consequences in the morning. In a way, it’s one last chance for everyone’s 2018 version of themselves to leave a big last impression, while not really caring what the 2019 version will have to say about it.

But that doesn’t mean you have to give into the pressure, and “join in”. As a matter of fact, that’s the absolute last thing you should do.


No Booze, No Exceptions

If you’re hosting, it’s important that you imprint this into your mind right away. No exceptions being the most important rule. No one is allowed to bring alcohol to your party, and that’s that.

Know that this will affect the number of people willing to join you – and that you might have to talk to some friends for a while before they’re ready to consider having a sober New Year’s Eve with you. Most people aren’t going to be excited about the prospect of a completely sober party, let alone a New Year’s Eve with no alcohol. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, or that you’re going to end up ruining someone else’s fun because you’re forbidding booze.


Being Clear in Your Invites

The last thing you want, other than alcohol, is confusion. Instead of BYOB, be sure to stress that this is a sober party, and no alcohol is going be served or allowed. Some people might try to sneak in some booze anyway – warn them that if they do, you reserve the right to kick them out.

And if they bring booze anyway, follow through on your threat. They can party anywhere else, and probably find booze anywhere else – but betraying your trust and bringing alcohol to a party you’re trying to enjoy while sober is an utmost low.

Being vague in your invites will invite trouble. You can’t kick someone out about a rule you haven’t made clear and sending a guest out of the party without first warning them about the consequences of bringing alcohol would also seem unfair. If this is your first party while sober, some part of you might let these arguments step over your personal boundaries, on the basis of being a good host. By being very clear in your invites, you avoid these pitfalls.


What About Other Parties?

If this is your first New Year’s Eve completely sober, and you’ve only been sober for a few weeks, then it’s not a good idea to be at any major party. The temptation to drink might just be too high, especially in the heat of the moment. Chances are that your deeper self is looking for any excuse to find some booze, no matter how dedicated you are and no matter what motivations you have. The first few weeks of sobriety are simply still spend struggling with moments of temptation, overwhelming cravings, and for most, a relapse or two.

If you’ve been sober for the better part of a year, have spent time being sober in other parties, and are generally more comfortable with your sobriety – but it’s still your first New Year’s Eve – then you should be okay, provided you have another sober friend tag along. While keeping each other company, you can also make sure the other is staying clean no matter what.


Finding Alternatives

If it’s your party, then booze is an absolute no-go. But drinks are still on the menu. The question is – what are we drinking?

Don’t be boring at your own party, especially if you’ve always had an affinity for cocktails. Some people only like it neat and straight, but if you’ve had a thing for the creative side of bartending, then chances are you know your favorites and your not-so-favorites.

Chances are you’ve also tried a mocktail or two, and thought they generally tasted pretty bad. I mean, even in a cocktail, you’re still essentially looking for the buzz – just with an interesting taste to boot. But what if we told you that there was such a thing as a good mocktail? More than one, in fact?

The Internet is your best friend, with a large variety of interesting and flavorful options for your New Year’s Eve party. If mocktails aren’t your think, stick to specialty drinks, make a theme out of it – like having a drink from a different culture every time the New Year hits a specific time zone on the globe – or just focus all of your creativity into creating good food.

A great big menu of food choices is important, but most people at a party probably won’t be looking for a big meal, or any old party snacks. Stick to simple, easy-to-eat, easy-to-carry foodstuffs that your guests probably haven’t had or aren’t familiar with, as well as a couple easy favorites everyone can flock to if the experiments don’t pan out too well.


Have Something to Do

No party is complete without with some fun to go around. But your definition of fun is going to vary wildly from what other people might think is entertaining. If you’re throwing a party for a specific group of friends, you’ll have to think what you all might enjoy.

It could be a marathon of a favorite show running in the background, a private bet on a card game or board game, video games, karaoke, or something entirely different.

Some people don’t go to parties to celebrate, but to get out of their heads. It can be hard to create the right environment for them without booze to help loosen up and throw off some inhibition. But you need to stick to your boundaries.


Approaching the New Year with A Sober Mindset

New Year Sober Mindset

We’re entering the end of this year, and preparing for the new year – but what does that mean? Everyone has their own goals, aspirations and reflections. Figuring out a single meaning for anyone’s upcoming new year would be senseless. But for those of us celebrating another year sober or looking forward into the near future with sobriety on our mind, one of the central themes around this new year would be to stay clean.

Depending on where you are in your recovery, this could be a continued goal or a brand-new challenge. Either way, having the right mindset is important. If you’re serious about making changes this upcoming new year, you need to be realistic about your resolutions – and that means approaching them in the right way.


What’s Your Goal?

Any new year’s resolution needs an effective overarching goal. To most people, it’s something vague, nonspecific, perhaps even something formulaic like “being a better person”, or even more unspecific, “being my best self”. If your goal is anything like that, heavily reconsider your idea of what a resolution should actually be. Goals shouldn’t be vague and undefined – they should be bulleted, refreshingly sharp, visible off in the distance as clearly as the bullseye on a target.

Let’s rethink. What’s your goal for the upcoming year? Is it to travel once around the world? Find and nurture a stable relationship? Hold a job you actually enjoy for a whole year? Stay clean and watch your kid graduate school? It could be anything that requires a commitment of at least a year – not something you’re getting done in the early weeks of January, but something you’ll have to stay focused on for at least the whole year.

A specific, achievable goal that would completely or at least significantly affect your life and signal that you’ve made major changes to who you are and what you stand for. A goal that mirrors your newfound principles and represents not just a year of hard work, but countless hours spent defying temptation and staying true to your most earnest, inner wishes. That must be the backbone of your new year.


Describing the “Sober Mindset”

Sobriety is as simple as not doing something. But that something is something you really want to do. At first, at least. That requires patience, dedication, discipline, and accountability. To hold yourself back and not give in to your inner wants at the behest of your own betterment and, possibly, the wellbeing of those you care about and love the most. Sobriety is about putting yourself out there, knowing full well the beginning will be hard and at times miserable, and that there might be stumbles along the way, but that you’re willing to change – and that you still have hope you can change.

That mindset is integral to your new year. You need to stay optimistic, hopeful, and strong. But you also need to understand that you won’t always be those things. Part of the sober mindset is realism, the ability to take off anything that might skew your image of reality, and know that, because things are going to be really hard, you’re going to need help.

Hope that you’re going to make it, and the knowledge that you won’t make it alone. That’s your sober mindset of the new year, and it accompanies your overarching goal.


Make More Sober Goals

Having sobriety as a goal is folly. There’s nothing to achieve. No mountain to climb. You can call in at any facility, move into a drug-free space, stay away from drugs just long enough to make it through the detoxification and withdrawal, and you’ll be clean – but that’s not all recovery is about. Sobriety is a lifestyle, a decision you commit to for the rest of your life. But you need a reason to commit. Not doing something isn’t enough – you need to do something else.

That’s where sober goals become critical. To make sobriety something lasting and long-term, you need to make it worth your time. This new year could be your chance to turn your sobriety into something beautiful.

Start with a list of goals that you can complete within shorter amounts of time than a year. Something like visiting an entirely new country, making a new friend, learning a new skill, losing some weight, or finishing a project. Make it something personal – and better yet, make it something you’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t, because of one reason or another.

No one quits drugs or alcohol, goes into a rehab facility, and comes out the other end cured of the need for drugs and alcohol. Instead, you get given the tools to help further bring you to the point where you really don’t need drugs and alcohol. But that takes anywhere from a few months to several years. Accomplishing these goals, one step at a time, and completely changing your life is key to setting apart this chapter of your life from every other: making sobriety the greatest thing you ever attempted.


Why Don’t You Drink?

With addiction, the brain wants something that it’s gotten used to, and it sends signals to you to go get it – despite the fact that it’s a destructive behavior that can lead not only to death, but to the end of the things you love. By all logic, drug use and alcoholism aren’t worth it. But people who struggle with addiction either accept that and feel that they don’t care, or they can’t see it.

Recovery programs and communities help open your eyes to the possibility of staying sober, and the benefits that come from it, both for yourself and for those you care about. But that doesn’t change the fact that the brain still wants what it wants, and denying it is hard.

So, you have to find reasons to deny it what it wants and find other things it might like. If addiction is a coping mechanism, then it’s a short-term coping mechanism with maladaptive properties. That means it might make you happy for a while, but it doesn’t change your situation or help you move past your problems. We all need coping mechanisms, but some are healthier than others. Use this year to explore what coping mechanisms would be most effective for you.


The Key to Maintaining Sobriety Long Term

Maintaining Sobriety

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

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

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


Don’t Be in This Alone

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

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


Keep in Touch with a Professional

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


Find Your Purpose

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

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


What’s Your Idea of a Good Time?

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

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


It Does Get Easier

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

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

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