3 Ways to Make Your Sobriety Your Priority
Alcohol and drug addiction is a complex problem, as it can make you feel enslaved and powerless to your drug cravings. In response, you must take steps – with or without professional help – to safeguard yourself from the path that only further limits what could otherwise be a healthy future. The following three principles are designed to guide recovering addicts to more successful lives.
Get Your Focus off Yourself and Help Others
If you have a substance use disorder, then your primary relationship is likely with your drink or drug of choice. Your behavioral repertoire is probably short, because you spend so much of your time in drug-related activities. You will spend time and energy getting money to buy, obtain and use drugs. Then, you spend who knows how long coming down from the drug and nursing hangovers. Because of this narrow focus on drugs, you will find yourself neglecting your relationships with people who do not do so .
However, by supporting other people, you can create a sober routine that benefits both those whom you support and yourself. An altruistic lifestyle can give you a sense of gratification and a feeling of inner warmth, possibly because the brain releases more dopamine in such situations. The release of positive brain chemicals, the sense of community and feeling valuable to another person will all come from supporting other people: according to one study with young adults, helping other people who were in need significantly lowered cravings for alcohol and narcotics, reduced feelings of entitlement, propelled more involvement in treatment groups, promoted better people skills and improved academic success. In short, help other people to help yourself stay clean.
Be Nice to – and Realistic About – Yourself
Your own sobriety is your priority, especially in the early stages of recovery, but many people, especially those with families and young children, have a hard time putting themselves first. To tackle this problem, start by taking small steps to put yourself first, and then carefully look at the outcomes. For instance, to increase their sense of accomplishment, many recovering addicts set up a reward system to reinforce their positive behaviors. The rewards should be meaningful, valuable and relevant, such as a family vacation—you may fulfilled throughout the planning stages and the actual trip. Furthermore, working together on a project (such as building a greenhouse, which takes time and commitment) may provide some consistency in schedules and conclude with the reward of the accomplished project. Lastly, getting involved in a new hobby, such as fishing or dancing, can provide some good physical activity as well as quality time with loved ones. You know yourself better than anyone, so you know what rewards will work best for you. You may find that reading a good book, getting a manicure or going to a sporting event may be rewarding. All of these ideas fall under the category of self-care, which means treating yourself with the utmost respect, compassion and love.
Most importantly, accept the fact that you will always be under construction, as the recovery slogan goes “progress, not perfection.” Relaxation, physical activity and better nutrition contribute to physical and emotional health, so improvement in these areas is encouraged to throughout recovery.
Make Wise Choices About How to Live Well
It is paramount for recovering addicts to tread the world while watching out for environmental triggers for relapse. Some situations will encourage you to use drugs again, so recognize your own psychosocial and emotional triggers to make healthy choices in response to life stress. One of the key factors in preventing relapse is maintaining a recovery-oriented attitude. In short, if you can retain a humble view of the power of addiction and not take your abstinence for granted, then you may stay clean for the long haul. Personal vigilance against relapse is crucial to recovery.
Relapse prevention is an extremely important component of recovery. After establishing some stability in abstinence, you should develop coping skills to avoid relapse in the future. Concrete behavioral changes will be needed to remain on a correct course, because recovery is a lifelong process that requires a drug-free lifestyle – one of the most important objectives of treatment. Establishing and consistently following a daily schedule is an important tool to recovery. To that end, healthy relationships are extremely important for support during recovery. Unhealthy relationships need to be eliminated, and positive, drug-free friendships must form for recovering addicts to have the support they need to stay clean. Two types of unhealthy behavior – codependency and enabling behavior – can contribute to continued drug abuse and drinking, so both should be avoided at all cost in any relationship1.
Who Can Guide Me in the Right Direction?
More than ten independent studies recognize our Dual Diagnosis treatment as top notch. When you contact our admissions coordinators through our 24 hour, toll-free helpline, you will receive the information and answers you need to tackle your desires for drug abuse. Our staff knows how to help, and they are professionally trained to help you get and stay clean, so pick up the phone and make the call today.
1 “An Individual Drug Counseling Approach to Treat Addiction”, National Institute on Drug Abuse, https://archives.drugabuse.gov/TXManuals/IDCA/IDCA11.html.