If you’re an addict, getting sober, in and of itself, is hard. It requires a lot of determination and a complete willingness to do whatever it takes to remain on the straight and narrow path. On top of it all, staying sober is even harder than getting sober and while anyone with any length of time in recovery is vulnerable to a relapse, the newcomer is probably the most at risk. That said, there are quite a few things that you can do in order to “take the edge off” of your sobriety maintenance in those intimidating early days. And please feel free to take note, even if you’re a veteran in recovery. After all, no addict is immune to a relapse.
Tips for Maintaining your Sobriety:
1. Twelve-Step Meetings
While no one at Kembali is formerly affiliated with any single twelve-step program, we’re firm believers that the twelve steps work if you work them. In fact, we recommend anyone coming out of our treatment programs maintain a proper after-care program and attend twelve-step meetings. Again, we’re just the messengers here, but twelve-step programs are proven effective because they give you a blueprint for life, and they don’t purport to be a quick fix. Rather, they give you tools that you can continuously access to maintain your recovery over the long term. Not only that, twelve-step meetings are free, and you have an instant network of like-minded friends just about anywhere in the world. It’s a pretty sweet deal.
2. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is something that’s within all of us and when we access it on a daily basis, it’s even more readily available to us. In this day and age, so many of us run around mindlessly on autopilot throughout our daily lives. This can cause us to become overly reactive and overwhelmed by life, leading many addicts to want to drink or use, but it doesn’t need to be this way. Setting aside even just 5-10 minutes of your day to sit still and bring awareness to your senses and what you’re experiencing in that moment allows you to be mindful. If you’re able to sit for longer (20-30 minutes), you’ll experience even greater benefits, but even just a few minutes is better than nothing.
Studies show that by training your brain to be mindful, you can actually remodel the physical structure of your brain. The result is an overall reduction in brain chatter, an understanding of both physical and mental pain, an ability to connect better with others, and less stress, among so many other things. The benefits of a mindfulness practice can be truly profound, and for addicts in recovery, it can help stop addictive cravings in their tracks by replacing those cravings with a feeling of peace and serenity. Really. If you don’t have a mindfulness practice already, we double dare you to give it a try.
For more information on how to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine, click here. There’s even a 5-minute breathing meditation for beginners if you scroll to the bottom of the page.
3. Get your Fitness on
Exercise is one of the best ways to raise endorphins and dopamine naturally (if you haven’t noticed, we’re big on dopamine. Click here for more ways to raise your dopamine levels naturally). For some of you, exercise may not be your favorite thing to do, but it really can be an integral part of maintaining your sobriety. And the best part? With all those happy chemicals being released (endorphins, dopamine, etc.), you can essentially replace that artificial high you’ve been chasing all along. Sure, exercise may not give you the same spike that drugs and alcohol will, but we can pretty much guarantee that the high you experience will last a heck of a lot longer. Oh yeah, and you’ll be hangover free the next day, too. Plus, you’ll just look better and feel better. It’s a full-on win-win all the way. So, grab those runners, or that yoga mat, or those boxing gloves, or that bicycle, or that tennis racket…ok, you get the idea. Find a sport or activity that you love, and get your fitness on!
4. Surround yourself with People who are Supportive of your Recovery
Many folks in early recovery report that it can be a challenge to navigate their relationships in early sobriety. A big part of the reason for this is that a lot of the people you probably spent your time with in your active days were drinking or using buddies. While no one is telling you to ditch your old friends, it might be a good idea to do a little friendship inventory and decide who’s truly got your best interests in mind. If your friends are supportive of your recovery, they’ll respect your decision not to want to be in situations where you’ll be tempted to slip back into old habits. For those friends that aren’t supportive, however, you may want to rethink those relationships. Are they real friends, or are they just party buddies?
Most of us find that once we’ve been in recovery for a while, we really have no interest in those “surface-level” relationships – the ones with the folks we used to only party with. If you’re new to recovery, however, you may not be in that headspace yet, so just be mindful of who you’re spending your time with. If your friends are true friends and they genuinely care about you, they’ll want to see you succeed in your recovery and they’ll be supportive of your choices. Plus, at the end of the day, the supportive friends are the ones that’ll likely just make ya feel good. They’ll get really excited when you suggest bowling in favor of the pub or the full moon dance party. Just remember, hugs not drugs (sorry, we couldn’t help it). 😉
5. Write a Daily Gratitude List
Gratitude? What? How the heck is anyone in early recovery supposed to be grateful? The party’s over, isn’t it? Well, it depends on your perspective. Those of us who’ve managed to stay sober for any length of time often start to find that life actually becomes more fun in recovery. Sure, you can probably rule out dancing on table tops and staying up until sunrise (although you don’t have to). That said, once we learn to live without drugs, alcohol, or any other object of addiction, we can find an overwhelming sense of freedom. Think about it – gone are the days of depending on anything (or anyone – any codependents/love addicts out there?) to achieve a state of bliss. We start to find that blissful state within ourselves, and folks in sobriety tend to be highly motivated and successful as well. Of course everyone has a different definition of success which may not include cash and prizes. The point is really that by not being tethered to our addictions, we free up our head and heart space to allow so many other positive things in. Plus, addicts in recovery often maintain some type of personal or spiritual growth program (i.e., AA, NA, SLAA, etc.), and with self-growth comes change. In recovery, many of us find that we’re living our lives with much more integrity, we’re able to hold jobs for longer, earn more, and simply get more done throughout the day.
Ok, so now that we’ve covered how awesome life can be in recovery, we recommend taking that awesomeness and writing it down. Start each day with a list of, say, ten things that you’re grateful for. And no need to overthink it. These can be simple things like, “I woke up healthy today,” or I’m thankful for my comfy bed that’s afforded me many good night’s sleep.” Gratitude gets us into the right headspace to start our days on a positive note, and this can be a really powerful practice.
The Best Decision you’ll Ever Make…
So there you have it – some our favorite “tricks” to maintaining a solid recovery program. Getting sober is probably the best decision you’ll ever make, and it can be a life-changing journey as well. Putting down the drugs or the alcohol (or other) is really only the first step on a path that leads to a whole new life.
Are you someone who struggles to stay sober, or do you have a loved one who’s battling addiction? Please remember that no one needs to do this alone. Contact Kembali Recovery Center today to learn more about our four-week program. Our next intake is right around the corner.