Why 2018 Is The Year For Addiction Recovery

2018 Year For Addiction Recovery | Transcend Texas

A new year has arrived, and with it, a hope for better times to come. With the cutoff of an old year and the celebration of a new one, it’s only natural to hope for terrible things to end and for good things to come. But one has to do more than hope if they want to decide what their future will look like. This year can be your year, if you want it to be. It’s a common tradition around the world to pick the new year as a time to make new commitments, and sign up for major changes. However, for many, these resolutions to be a new, better person lead to disappointment and procrastination. Too often, we set the bar too high and fail, causing more hurt than personal progress. That said, make 2018 the year for addiction recovery.

There is a right way and a wrong way to go about using the new year as the mark of something new and good. And if you go about it the right way, then 2018 can be your year for addiction recovery – and the start of a new chapter in your life.


Celebrating A New Year

Cultures as far back as early civilization have celebrated the end of an annual cycle, and saw it as the birth of something new and exciting. Not only was life for many civilizations rooted in seasonal changes and their effects on agriculture and commerce, but the astrological (and thus religious) importance of a full year ending made the new year special in nearly every culture.

Today, we celebrate the new year every 1st of January across the world, and we look back on the previous year, either to salute or mourn its passing. Sometimes, despite time only moving forward a single day, the shift from one year to the next can be emotionally invigorating, and signifies a time for letting go of the past and focusing on the new opportunities of the future.

For someone fighting addiction, you can make 2018 the year for addiction recovery and reclaim your life. But it won’t be quite as easy as jotting down a quick and short resolution, and then spending the next few months struggling to stay clean without a plan for relapse or other issues. 2018 can be your year for addiction recovery, because the year has just started and now is the perfect time to make full use of that fact.

But you have to approach your new resolution just right.


Make It Your Year For Addiction Recovery

The key to making 2018 a successful year for addiction recovery is by taking the right approach. The basic tenets for tackling recovery are:

  • Create a list you have easy access to and see every day.
  • Don’t tell everyone about your plans and aspirations.
  • Find a hobby or passion you are/could be deeply invested in.
  • Set short-term attainable goals to improve in your hobby.
  • Create a time-frame for the first quarter of the year.
  • Improve yourself – pick something to work on, and focus on it.
  • Make new friends and surround yourself with trusted old ones – use the support in times of hardship and loneliness to drive out the cravings.

A few things you absolutely want to avoid include being vague, focusing on your sobriety without having a concrete focal point in your life, and biting off more than you can chew when planning your resolutions for the year.

If you want to focus on recovery, then find healthy ways to cope with trauma and strong emotions, and improve your lifestyle to help reduce the impact of drug use and further learn what it means to be happy without drugs. Here are a few things you could do:


Getting Things Done In Recovery This Year

Addiction is more than just the presence of a set of destructive, maladaptive coping mechanisms. Addiction is also loneliness and negativity – so surrounding yourself by positive, strong people is the best way to ward off issues like a potential relapse.

Start by enrolling in a treatment program and a support group. Sober living homes are an excellent example for an environment that is conducive for both personal growth and long-term sobriety, as well as the tools needed to survive the world outside treatment.

After finding new people who likewise want to make it a year for addiction recovery and stay sober, it’s time to find healthy ways of coping. Some people prefer art, others prefer to exercise, and some have other unique ways of letting go of excess stress or anger. The ability to cope healthily with issues without the use of drugs is vital for snuffing out addiction.

From there, it’s time to focus on improving your skills, and working on all the things you wanted to work on. From starting a DIY project like room renovation to learning a new language, there are countless things you can learn and do throughout 2018 to mold yourself into someone you’re happy about and make it the year for addiction recovery for yourself.


Look Past The Present

2018 is one year – and in time, 2019 will come and 2018 will end. However, that doesn’t mean that your commitments should end. Drug addiction recovery isn’t a temporary thing tied to one year for addiction recovery. It’s a goal to spend the rest of your days not tied to your old addiction, and not driven towards bad decision-making by substance abuse.

Thus, see this 2018 as the year you begin your journey, and fight your way through the hardest parts of addiction recovery. From withdrawals to relapses and the emotional struggles of relearning what it means to feel good about yourself, and feel good in general without substance use, the first few months of 2018 will likely be rough. But if you continue to set new goals, and always leave room for growth and improvement, it’s only a matter of time before you make your addiction take the backseat.

Some people argue that when you go through something as substantial and potentially traumatic as an addiction, it’ll always be with you. And while that’s true, that doesn’t mean it gets to decide how you live. You should never forget your past – but you should be able to live with it, and move on past it, to a future where you make choices and decisions that positively reflect on what you learned while fighting your addiction. This 2018, take your first steps towards a life you can be proud of.


Sober Is The New Black

Sober Is The New Black | Transcend Texas

In an unexpected twist, the economic uncertainty and rise in psychological know-how within the current generation of young adults has produced something no winery or brewery could’ve guessed – a downturn in alcoholism and social drinking. While the world still has its fair share of young binge drinkers and partygoers, it turns out that for a large section of millennials and others, drinking is falling by the wayside in favor of a new culture of mindfulness, and clearheaded sobriety.

Indeed, it seems it’s hip to be sober, now more than ever. It’s a growing trend and one that isn’t developing in a vacuum – sobriety has become a big facet of an ongoing movement to promote less as more, pushing off against the effects of gluttony, materialism and consumerism, the adversaries of the straight-edged punk. Yet today’s sobriety isn’t about radical political action, and counterculture as it was in the 80s; it’s about individual enlightenment, and the joys of a sharp mind, clearer thinking.

Sobriety in a Millennial Age

It would be foolish to generalize the actions of one subculture to an entire generation, but as youngsters go, millennials are surprisingly booze-free. Out with the 2 a.m. bar crawls and late-night raves, in come juice-crawls and early morning dance parties.

Yet any surprise flies out the window with a little more research – as technology makes it ever easier to order booze and sex with a click of a button or a swipe on a screen, the counter-movement to modern-day excessiveness is to be a restrained and efficient consumer. Yet it’s not just about the morality of asceticism – it’s about the economics. Millennials have access to more information and communication than ever, but are short on cash. In turn, they seem to spend more wisely.

The current generation eats healthier, does more exercise, and drinks less than previous generations. Veganism is on the rise, along with yoga, weightlifting, sobriety, and a slew of self-improvement movements that are more easily accessible than ever. Young people are having less sex than ever, teen pregnancies are down, and contraceptive use has shot up – not out of a culture of prudishness or celibacy, but perhaps as a result of greater respect between genders, or a lack of free time.

As part of an ongoing new-age drive towards individual entrepreneurialism, social networks like Snapchat and Instagram help today’s generation promote themselves and gain celebrity-like status through the lens of a smartphone – yet in an age where money is tighter than ever, most of these personal brands aren’t promoting their newest yacht or latest vacation home, but are instead marketing health fads and lifestyle products through their chiseled physiques and glowing skin. People write about sobriety, mindfulness, meditation, wellness retreats, and the tenets of Zen Buddhism as applied in the modern-day workforce.

However, today’s sobriety has little to do with the counterculture of the 80s. There’s no politicizing, no collectivism, no stand against the evils of capitalism or imperialism – in fact, millennials tend to lean fiscally to the right: politicians are out of touch, politics are outdated, the state won’t help anyone. As a show of apathy and distrust, voter turnouts are lower than ever. To many, life is about personal journeys and finding your best self, representing the values of taking an entrepreneurial approach to life instead of relying on the man.

Of course, sobriety isn’t something millennials invented. The culture of addiction recovery, abstinence and sobriety is as ancient as alcohol itself, and the West’s most popular method for beating alcoholism originated in the same decade as instant coffee, the first electric guitar, and the Second World War. And indeed, sobriety is on the rise across all ages. Yet for the first time in ages, it seems that being sober is hip.

Sober Partying & Clean Living

Over 10,000 bars have shut down in the past decade, and in their stead, there has been a massive rise in sober entertainment. From sober raves to juice crawls, people are stepping away from the need for social drinking and are instead realizing how productive and empowering it can be to relieve yourself of the pressure to get drunk before having fun with others. Peer pressure is a major factor in drug use, and addiction – yet the trend may be going in the opposite direction.

With the omnipresence of social media and its growing influence in job availability and career options, most people today must be more self-conscious of their actions and their future, cutting down on the booze to avoid the horrid surprise of waking up to a Facebook album filled with unflattering portraits of the night before, all linked to a name that must compete in the online competitive market.

It’s not just about pressure, of course. The idea that you can choose – choose what you want to do with your time in a day and age where we can get a concise list of every shindig and interesting event around us within a few seconds – can be paralyzing to many, and empowering to others. Instead of boozing it up, people choose to stay sober. Instead of the usual fast food option, people are choosing to pick up new ways to make an easy and healthier alternative, or check out the newest food trend in downtown. Realizing that life won’t be easy, young professionals today choose to make the most of their time.

That’s not true for everyone, obviously. Anxiety and depression are on a rise in younger people, and the two are doubtlessly related to growing fears among today’s younger generations regarding the future. Getting a degree no longer guarantees you any job, let alone a decent one, and even if people do manage to land a position that might result in a career, the idea of a safe retirement for most is slipping away rapidly. Staying positive in a climate like that can be hard.

On top of that, not everyone thinks living sober is best. And plenty of people are still enjoying the booze to a tremendous degree. But the trend is obvious – the risk of getting smashed on a Friday night outweigh the benefits for many, and they’d rather just stay home and flick through Netflix, squeeze an hour of gym-time into their day; or, apparently, hit a sober party.

12 Steps, Or No Steps?

12 Steps, Or No Steps? | Transcend Texas

When it comes to tackling addiction, the most famous form of group therapy or recovery is the 12 Step program. The 12 Steps is decades old and operates on a foundation of social dependence and faith – you enter the group, give yourself to it, and help them reconstitute and recover after a harrowing experience with addiction.

Many have shared their experiences with 12 Step programs and have raved about their effectiveness, while cautioning others that it may not be their cup of tea. Others have written and reported about how the 12 Steps were useless to them. And yet others have made bold claims over the years, going so far as the declare the 12 Steps the only viable means of recovery in existence.

The truth is that the 12 Steps are one method among many – but the question is if they’re the right method for you.

Delving Into the 12 Steps

The 12 Step program has its origins in the early 30s, specifically with tenets outlined in the 1939 book Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovery from Alcoholism. The idea behind the 12 Steps was to create a philosophical and referential backbone to the organization Alcoholics Anonymous, which was founded by two recovered alcoholics who helped themselves stay sober for years.

While it isn’t affiliated with any other groups or a specific religion, God or a higher power plays a vital role in some of these steps, and faith – faith in others, and faith in the divine – is part of the 12 Step journey. This has led the program to come under fire by some who consider it either pseudoscientific or lacking in peer-reviewed evidence.

The 12 Steps themselves can be found anywhere, and particularly outline the importance of community and unity, admitting powerlessness over addiction – which has drawn criticism for its depressive and shame-based wording – explaining that individual recovery is achieved precisely through that harmony between each one who struggles. The process begins as any other does, with the decision to enter recovery.

Rehab or residential treatment isn’t necessarily part of this experience, although some people join a 12 Step program straight out of rehab. For some, residential treatment is necessary due to the nature of withdrawal. In cases of addiction where physical dependence is an issue – a buildup of tolerance and the development of a painful withdrawal – having professional medical help to see you through the initial stage of recovery is essential, especially with cases of alcoholism where withdrawal can be fatal.

From there, the 12 Step program helps you address each part of your addiction as a separate problem – the spiritual, the physical, the emotional and the mental. Achieving a healthy body and a clear mind is essential for a good emotional balance and a steady spiritual understanding, and vice versa.

The Merits of Strategic Recovery

Regardless of whether you personally prefer the 12 Step program to other programs, or if something about it doesn’t work for you or appeal to you, there is a lot to be said towards approaching addiction recovery from a strategic angle, utilizing a specific set of rules and steps to achieve your goals, stay sober, and improve in recovery enough to overcome addiction.

Planning goals in recovery is vital, because you can’t simply stay sober for the sake of staying sober. You need a reason, and you need something to look forward to, replacing addiction with a different kind of stress ball. Scheduling your day tightly to avoid having too much free time is an effective way to ensure that you’re not tempted to relapse, while keeping you busy and maximizing your time effectively. Therefore, sober living homes are such great places to live, as they provide you with a simple environment among other recovering addicts living and fighting their vices through motivation and empowerment.

Sober living also helps you realize the power of giving – helping others to help yourself, while creating a sense of belonging by actively participating in group events, group meetings, and other mandatory appearances.

Rules are also important. Sober living homes have strict rules that help maintain sobriety for those living in them – including strict rules against late-night visitors, and regular drug testing to ensure that all residents stay clean and aren’t hiding a relapse. Self-imposed rules for those struggling with addiction might include working through chapters of CBT workbooks, utilizing at least one affirmation a day, and working either on some type or art, project or exercise.

Creating Your Own Steps

Aside from utilizing basic structure to help improve the chances of you making it through the first months of recovery and creating a solid foundation for sobriety through programs like sober living to prepare you for the struggles of the future, it might also be a clever idea to create your own ten or dozen steps to follow and stay loyal to, to give you a mantra by which to live in this arc of your life.

You may not need faith as a backbone to your recovery, instead relying on steps that relate to gratitude, mindfulness, and actively seeking to mend old broken relationships to seek closure and prove that you’re changing.

You could also use your steps to cement the importance of art, music or physical training and sports in your path to permanent sobriety. Make a promise to prepare and work on a weekly journal, or make a pledge to regularly attend group meetings to connect with others, and never forget that you’re not the only one to struggle and succeed.

Recovery Without Steps

Not everyone needs a written code to live by – and plenty of people have beaten their addiction without the 12 Step program, or any other steps. Instead, they might have relied on group therapy, or one-on-one therapy, self-help tools, or just the sheer accountability they feel towards their family and friends towards getting better and being an important part of the community.

The thing about recovery is that every path is unique. Just like addiction can strike anyone, anyone can recover – but we all must find our own specific path. With or without steps, it’s not up to anyone else to decide that – it’s your own choice, based on what you know about yourself.

Happiness Is A By-Product, Not A Goal

Happiness Is A By-Product, Not A Goal | Transcend Texas

It’s a pretty simple assumption that people suffering from addiction aren’t happy. To be happy, is to be content. It’s to be satisfied. Happiness is making peace with things, and having no regrets. It’s being able to look at your situation in life, to be able to look yourself in the mirror, and decide that this is just fine.

It’s not perfect, sure. But nothing is. It’s not ideal, but the fewest things are. It could be better, but it isn’t – and it doesn’t have to be. Finding that sort of bliss is rare, difficult, and something we all strive for. And even the happiest among us run into moments of sadness, anger, and even a few moments of desperation – because without them, happiness isn’t anything.

But when you’re struggling with an addiction, you don’t even possess the chance to be happy. Happiness exists outside addiction, in sobriety. Why? Because you’re not entirely oblivious. Most people will realize at some point or another in their addiction that they’re struggling to control themselves, and that the consequences of their illness are dire, and can be worse. With something like that hanging over your head, being content or satisfied isn’t in the cards. Happiness isn’t pleasure. Pleasure is part of happiness, but to be truly happy takes more than the high of a hit of heroin.

However, just because addiction makes happiness impossible, doesn’t mean that sobriety is the golden gate of joy itself. Sobriety can often begin as quite the opposite. It’s just a single step towards being happy.

Sobriety & Happiness

Being sober isn’t being happy, that much is clear to anyone who’s gone through withdrawal and come out the other end, struggling with recovery. Early sobriety is a rollercoaster of emotions, an unbottling of suppressed thoughts and the consequences of addiction. Once the initial bumpy ride subsides, what’s left isn’t some substantial insight into life – it’s just life itself, with all its struggles.

However, sobriety is a gateway to happiness – the first step to being content with who you are, in all honesty. It starts with simple sobriety, but to establish yourself in recovery, you need to set goals and meet them, take care of your responsibilities, and find a purpose.

If you can combine your career and your purpose, all the better – otherwise, make sure your career is a means to fulfilling your purpose.

Happiness Is a Unique Journey

Everyone’s definition of happiness – of being content, and having found a purpose – is different because we all have a different idea of where we see each other. Some of us dream of success; others dream of a loving family, and the perfect home. While sobriety is all about confronting life, real life isn’t without the ability to pursue your dreams. In fact, pursue them. Find what it is you’re supposed to be – whether it’s an athlete or a parent or a café owner – and reach for it.

But, know your limit. Some people never find happiness. They’re never content. They reach and reach, constantly pushing higher. While it’s never wrong to continue looking for new goals and new adventures, there’s a difference between exploring new challenges in life and being content. Some of us wish for a life we can’t achieve, one outside our control. If you can’t bring yourself write that book, then maybe that’s not what truly drives you. If you can’t build the business empire you wanted, then maybe what you’re after is something else. Understand that what you wish for now might not be best for you – that’s why you must keep looking for what your passion really is.

There’s nothing wrong with dreaming, and pursuing your dreams is a big part of learning to enjoy life. But don’t fall to despair if you don’t get as far as you might’ve hoped – it’s a big world, and there are other possibilities. And if you’ve managed to fight your way out of the rock bottom of addiction and towards your bigger goals, then you know there’s always a way up, even if it’s to places you least expect.

Happiness Is Not Absolute

Happiness isn’t exactly a form of enlightenment – it’s not like you sit under a tree, let go of your material wants, and find some eternal form of being contented. No one is happy forever. We can go through momentary lapses of happiness, or we can hit major lows. Happiness is more like the equilibrium we strive to achieve – just like how the body works hard to constantly remain in chemical balance, when the only constant thing in biology is change.

Don’t think of happiness as an end goal. Think of it as your natural state. Think of your own form of happiness as something you should normally feel. It’s important to be go through your emotions, and react honestly – but emotions become a problem when we stray from happiness too long. When sadness becomes the new normal, you fall into a depression. When you’re constantly angry, you seize up and strain yourself, and develop a chronic stress problem.

The idea of working towards discovering the best, healthiest, and happiest version of yourself is very helpful for long-term sobriety. Being happy is a powerful deterrent against addiction. It’s most definitely a powerful deterrent against depression, as well. But again, it’s not a perfect defense – the loss of a loved one, a tragic injury, or any other significant trauma could potentially tip the scales and tear down our world – take all the order we’ve come to be content with, and descend it into chaos.

When moments like that come around, we can’t cling to our happiness – we must cling to our ability to keep seeking our happiness. That’s what matters – how much you’re willing to forgive, to work, to fight and to live to ultimately be happy again. If you’re struggling to find a reason to stay sober, then think of this: what is happiness worth to you? What is being content worth to you? Because without sobriety, you’ll never get that far.

Being Of Service, Because Helping Others Helps Us All

Being Of Service, Because Helping Others Helps Us All | Transcend Texas

If you ever attend an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting, you will undoubtedly hear about the program’s 12th and final step:

Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

This important and final step isn’t something that recovering addicts focus on until they gain a strong foothold in their own recovery process, but it is immensely valuable to them when they do. Service to others teaches us everything from compassion to patience and even gratitude for own ability to escape addiction, not to mention the many ways it benefits people in recovery.

Most people have at least a baseline understanding of why volunteering and helping others is such a good thing. But do you understand why it’s so valuable in recovery? If not, you’re in luck; we’re about to break it down right now.

Supports Your Recovery

Before we have the opportunity to help others, we must first help ourselves. Recognizing how service to others benefits you is the first step to understanding what makes it so important.

No matter where you go for assistance with your addiction, you’ll find others who came before you waiting. Recovering addicts often go on to become counselors, therapists, addiction nurses, and nursing assistants in residential facilities all across the country. They lead AA meetings, do outreach work, and sometimes, just lend a helpful ear to other addicts.

Recovering addicts who work within the addiction industry understand what you’ve been through and what it takes to come out the other side. In nearly all cases, they, too, have benefitted from the attention of a recovering addict early on their journey.

The adventure comes full-circle with each newly recovered addict helping those still at rock bottom. In this way, the movement grows and more people reach healing over time. It’s important to be grateful for that help – much of which comes in the form of volunteer work – as you make your way into a sober life.

Improves Your Mood

Whether it’s within the recovery industry or just at your local animal shelter, service to others can improve your mood. This is a fact that science can demonstrate quite clearly; studies like this one show a clear link between regularly helping others and feeling happier, less anxious, and less depressed.

In fact, one London School of Economics study showed that people who volunteered at least once every two to four weeks reported feeling happier than their non-volunteering counterparts – to the tune of almost 12 percent. In the recovery industry, where mood disorders and dual diagnoses are common, that’s a significant improvement.

Gives You Purpose

One of the most common complaints from people struggling with recovery is that they feel like they’ve lost their purpose or identity. Our lives become so entrenched in finding substances or seeking out behaviors that it becomes our entire being, even if it’s also what’s killing us at the same time. When that substance or behavior is suddenly removed from the equation, we’re left with facing up to our original selves and finding our place in life all over again. That can admittedly feel terrifying.

By volunteering or giving back to others, you give yourself a purpose, even if that goal is temporary. It’s a constant reminder of the fact that you are worthy of life (a sober life, at that), that you have something to offer, and that you deserve love just as much as everyone else. There’s nothing quite like feeling needed, and people who are fresh into sober living can certainly benefit from the lessons you have to teach them after you’ve walked the path for a while yourself.

There’s also nothing quite like the satisfaction of talking someone out of using when they call you, their sponsor, in the middle of the night. Sometimes what we need most is just a friendly ear. Never doubt how much you provide just by offering someone a friendly ear.

Teaches You Valuable Social Skills

For most of us, re-learning how to socialize after we get sober is…well, challenging. We’re so used to the effects of drugs, alcohol, or even sex soothing awkwardness and getting us through challenging social situations that we’re sort of lost and delirious after it’s taken away. But that’s not a bad thing; learning to socialize without substances can lead to deeper, richer, more meaningful relationships with family, lovers, and friends.

Serving others (particularly other addicts) is always a learning experience, especially when it comes to social skills. It’s no secret that it can be challenging to watch other recovering addicts go through what you once went through. But the fact that you will learn how best to support them at rock bottom while still caring for your own mental health? That’s a life lesson you can apply all across the board.

Volunteering teaches us how to meet people where they are without risking ourselves in the process. We learn how to draw safe boundaries, how to hold onto those boundaries, and when to cut the rope and back off if it’s unhealthy. Best of all, we learn how to interact and appreciate the goodness inherent in people from all walks of life.

Reminds You of Your Roots

One of the most important ways helping others find their way benefits us in recovery is through the simple fact that it reminds us of our own recovery roots. Losing your connection with your recovery community is dangerous; immersed in an average life with no focus on recovery, it becomes easy to forget all of the struggle. We start to lose sight of that severe detox, the withdrawals, the people we hurt, and how much we lost because of substances.

You may even start to view occasional use or indulgence through rose-colored glasses, especially if you’ve had a drink or two without going overboard in the past. We can begin to convince ourselves that we’re normal, our lives are normal, and there’s no longer a reason to work our steps our plan. That’s exactly what leads to sudden and extreme relapses, many of which can have devastating consequences.

By helping others find their way, you stay humble and cognizant of how far you’ve come. Sure, it’s not easy to see someone struggling during the worst of times, but it is a stark reminder of how fast casual use can get out of hand. Cultivating compassion for people in that situation can even help us to reflect and cultivate compassion for ourselves.