A speaker shared his “drunkalogue” story today at an AA meeting and afterward, someone in the room made a comment about how similar our stories tend to be as addicts and alcoholics. Yes, of course, on the surface, the stories are all different, but in general, there are notable parallels. It usually starts with some form of childhood trauma, a reaction to that trauma, some sulking, some anger, some depression, some isolation, some social anxiety…and then we find drugs. Or alcohol. Or both.
The drugs and alcohol seem to take the pain away for most of us, and this works for a while. Until it doesn’t. For anyone reading this who’s in recovery, you likely know the feeling when the drugs or alcohol just don’t work anymore. Maybe you tried to convince yourself for a little while that you just needed to switch the brand of booze or find a different drug, but eventually, this stops working. And you–WE–face the not-so-pleasant reality that we need to give it ALL up before we can make the final decision to get sober.
Another daunting reality that we face when we finally put our substance of choice down is that, you know, we have to face reality. Like, without any kind of a buffer or anesthetic. And facing reality stone cold sober is a frightening prospect for most addicts and alcoholics, particularly those in early recovery or those contemplating sobriety.
So, how to do life on life’s terms while sober? More specifically, how do we deal with the ups and downs of life, the social anxiety, the general anxiety, the fear, the depression, facing our bottled up traumas, and everything in between? Ummm…without drugs or alcohol?
Believe it or not, it’s totally possible and, as a matter of fact, it’s quite empowering once we get the hang of it. And while it’s not always easy and it requires a little more effort than picking up an ice-cold brew (or ten) or a sniff, smoke, or hit (or ten) of our drug of choice to numb the pain, the way we feel over the long term is well worth it. You’re welcome. Okay, not yet, we haven’t given you any of our go-to strategies to get through life substance free, but we’re about to.
Here are SEVEN of our top choices:
- Meditate. That’s right. Om swastyastu, compadres. Some of you may already have a meditation practice, but if you don’t, we’re not saying you need to go all Shiva on us. But finding a practice that suits you is a great way to replace drugs and alcohol with something that feels good. The best part? It’s actually good for you, too.
- Exercise. Okay, we know, you’ve seen this list before. But c’mon, are you showing up at HIIT class at least three days per week yet? Yeah, we thought so. And apologies to anyone reading this who’s on their game. As for the rest of you? Suit up, lace up those Nikes, and show up! You’ll be happy you did and that endorphin rush will be so well worth it.
- Hit a Recovery Meeting. From AA to NA, to SMART Recovery, just about every town has meetings. And if they don’t, well, the pandemic has made Zoom meetings “a thing”. Check this link to learn how you can easily find an AA Zoom meeting in your time zone, or head to In The Rooms to find 24/7 meetings for just about any recovery fellowship you can think of.
- Call a Sober Pal. Sober friends are your lifeline. Seriously. If you’re newly sober, or even if you’ve been sober for a while, and you don’t have other sober friends, find some! Talk to people before and after meetings, have your sober friends introduce you to other sober fellows – you’ll realize we’re everywhere once you get into a good sober community. And once you’re plugged in, you have a support network for life. It’s beautiful. And yes, we all get anxious, depressed, fearful, and the lot. We GET you!
- Yoga. Yoga is one of those practices that just seems to compliment recovery perfectly. There’s even a program that combines the wisdom of the twelve steps with yoga called Y12SR. So yeah, it’s, like, an actual thing. A good yoga practice helps us stay grounded and centered through movement and for those of us in recovery, it can be a total game-changer.
- Be of Service. Yep. It might sound too simple, or even counter-intuitive (seriously, who wants to help others when they’re feeling anxious and depressed already?). But it works. Being of service to others is one of the best cures for getting out of our own heads and as addicts, it’s a jungle in there (in our heads!). So, offer to take on a small commitment at a recovery meeting, or try reaching your hand out to someone who’s brand new to recovery. And recovery meetings aside, you can do stuff like volunteer at an animal shelter, or offer to go grocery shopping for your grandma. Whatever works for you.
- BUT…Fill your own Cup First. Always a good rule of thumb. We can’t be of service to anyone else until we’ve taken the time out for a little self-care maintenance. Hit meetings, meditate and get a workout in – you know, all the good stuff on this list. And if any of this seems overwhelming, remember, take baby steps. You don’t have to run a marathon. If all you have in you is a walk around the block, then take that walk. Do a little walking meditation. Just do a Zoom meeting if you can’t bring yourself to leave the house (or you’re still in lockdown or social distancing). Then, reach your hand out to someone who could use it. 🙂
Remember, if you’re in recovery, you’re not alone. We’re all in this together –– our stories may be different on the surface, but our feelings are more similar than you think. Not only should there be some comfort in this, but it means there are plenty of addicts out there in recovery who now know what works when it comes to managing emotions sans mind-altering substances. These things work, but sometimes it can require taking a bit of contrary action to get from point A to point B. Believe it or not, even the little baby steps can add up. If all you can do today is pick up the phone and make a call to someone who understands, then pick up that phone. That’s all you need to do. But it’s also quite likely that the phone call will help you to shift your mindset and get cracking on with life while filling your day with things that make you feel good. Recovery isn’t just a one-day-at-a-time deal, it’s a one-moment-at-a-time journey, and it’s beautiful. Go easy on yourself, and please, let yourself enjoy life. You deserve it.
Kembali Recovery Center is Here for You
If you or someone that you know and love is struggling to get sober, Kembali Recovery Center can help and we are back open for business with up-to-date health protocols in place. Contact us today to speak with a staff member. You never have to do this alone.