An Addict’s Guide to Recovery
Your recovery is a daily practice of new, healthy habits that ultimately help you to stay sober. Abstaining from drugs and alcohol is one part of the equation, but recovery doesnít end there. In recovery, you will learn how to face all types of challenges by building a solid foundation that will support you. By integrating the following elements into your daily life, you can experience the healthy, fun and fulfilling life you are meant to have.
Building a recovery community
A supportive community of sober peers is one of the many gifts you will discover in recovery. Itís normal to want to isolate, but showing up and participating in group settings will directly impact how much you can benefit from your community. This means going to meetings, attending events, saying ďyesĒ to invitations to coffee or weekend plans with your peers. Youíll realize that by doing this, you wonít ever have to overcome lifeís obstacles alone. People in your community are there to listen to you, give you advice, celebrate your successes and help you get through tough times. You will also see that you have plenty to offer others. Your experiences give you valuable insight and support for those who may be facing similar challenges youíve had. A great way to strengthen your community in recovery is to take a meeting commitment, whether itís making coffee or handing out literature. Seeing a familiar face can be a good way to start a conversation on either end. Outside of meetings, youíll make new memories with sober friends by joining fun activities. Just say yes!
Maintaining structure in everyday activities is crucial to recovery. Early sobriety can come with newfound free time Ė but itís important to fill up that free time and to feel productive. Hanging out with no place to go or activity to do can easily lead your mind to places that arenít conducive to your sobriety. Idle time can usually breed bad habits. If you are unsure of how to spend your time, try making a long-term and short-term ďto doĒ list Ė not a stress list, but a list of things to achieve and look forward to! Think about what you want, whether itís a new job or to sign up for community college classes. One of your daily to-doís could be to refine your resume or to look through a course catalogue. Keeping busy and filling up your day with positive actions will help you to get out of your head and to be present. You wonít have time to dwell on the past or fear the future if youíre out making things happen right now. Take small steps, you donít need to have your schedule entirely filled up on day one of your sobriety. Add one new productive activity to your routine as you go along and youíll find it easier to take on more.
Focus on your health
Early recovery is a critical time to focus on feeling great by taking care of your body. We often neglect our bodies while drinking or using, and substances take a toll on our physical and emotional selves no matter how long or short of a period you may have been using. Eating well and exercising will help your body to bounce back from a previously unhealthy state. Focusing on your health also helps us all to feel better in our daily lives, experiencing the benefits of a lifestyle we didnít believe was possible. Exercise is a miracle ingredient for your mind, body and connection between the two. A daily workout helps to balance your natural flow of endorphins in your body. Scientific studies have consistently shown that adding exercise to treatment for anxiety and depression can give tangible and fast results for mood stabilization (APA). Along with lifting your mood, exercise helps to improve long and short-term memory, lowers fatigue and improves your sleep cycle (TheBrainFlux).
Yes, sober fun! Humans are far too complex of creatures to limit all great experiences to being under the influence. Being sober doesnít mean life will be dull. Itís important to recognize that life will be more peaceful in sobriety, but serenity should not be confused with boredom. You have talents, passions, interests and experiences waiting to unfold. Sobriety allows you to let yourself return to a childlike state and discover what you love. Reconnect with old hobbies you gave up while using or take up a new activity you always wanted to try. Go on some group outings with other sober friends and discover fun local activities. You deserve happiness, good laughs and great friends.
Recovery isnít easy. Youíre making a big, awesome change in your life! The best changes are never easy for us. Substances can mask the experience of life so that when they are finally removed from the equation, even the smallest action can seem incredibly difficult. It is okay if you feel a wide range of emotions. Itís important to remind yourself during the process thatÖ
- The feelings you experience in early sobriety will change as you adjust. This can take months to get into the swing of things.
- Recovery is about progress, not perfection.
- Pick up the phone. If youíre having a bad day, give a friend, sober peer, sponsor or family member a call and ask how their day is going. It will change your mindset.
Author – Chris Howard
Chris Howard is the Founder and Director of Ethos Recovery. He has a B.A. in Psychology from UCLA and has served as a community advocate/mentor for men and women in recovery since 2010.