As most recovering addicts know, getting sober is one thing, but staying sober is a totally different animal.
Some days, staying clean and sober comes easy. You don’t think about using and you feel like you’re on top of the world. On the flip side, some days it can feel like the whole world’s out to get you and that voice in your head keeps saying sobriety’s not worth the fight. That’s why it’s important to have a plan in place that’s designed to help you through these hard times – especially during early recovery.
Solving Problems and Staying Clean
Here’s a look at five common trip-ups you’ll likely need to navigate post-rehab and how you can prepare for each one without suffering a relapse.
- Setting Boundaries
Once you’ve made the decision to get sober, people from your past are going to come out of the woodwork trying to convince you recovery isn’t worth the hassle. It will be up to you to cut ties with the ones who ultimately pose a threat to your sobriety – and cutting those ties is often easier said than done. Deciding to eliminate someone from your life can be painful, but it’s important to stay true to yourself. After all, recovery is about finding your voice, not about being treated like a doormat.
Whether it’s reliving past blackouts or embarrassing late-night moments at the bar, one of the hardest parts of recovery is making peace with your past. Feelings of regret and shame over past bad decisions commonly lead to a relapse, so it’s essential to bypass “self-hatred” mode and swap it for “keep moving forward” mode. Getting it out in the open is half the battle; find a friend, family member or professional to confide in. Remember: Self-forgiveness is a journey, not an event.
- Finding Balance
Life is still life. Just because you’re sober doesn’t mean you’re immune to life’s everyday stresses. One thing’s for sure; there will be tests and tribulations, so it’s up to you to figure out a way to juggle them without cracking. Learning to roll with the punches – without the aid of drugs – can be overwhelming at first, but little by little, you’ll learn how to side-step obstacles without falling off the saddle.
Now that you’re no longer using, you may feel like you’ve got too much downtime on your hands…with even fewer distractions. Boredom is a huge relapse trigger for many people in recovery, so it’s important to stay busy, keep your mind active and your body engaged. Go outside for a jog, join a self-help group or pick up a new hobby. The busier you are, the less likely you’ll have time to focus on the drink or drug you’re not doing.
- Past Resentments
Living sober requires you to actually deal with difficult emotions, as opposed to numbing them. And the chances are good you’ll have to battle plenty of those negative feelings. There so much in life that you can’t control – including the actions of others – and it’s natural to feel slighted or wronged sometimes. But toting around those heavy resentments does nothing but waste energy that could be spent on you and your recovery. It also fills your headspace with negativity and preps you for a relapse, so it’s imperative to release your negative feelings and choose to focus on positive thoughts, emotions and life goals.
Living Life on Your Terms
Learning to live life on life’s terms isn’t always easy – after all, there’s a reason why many people don’t succeed at long-term recovery. Despite the all the challenges and hard work, the payoff is absolutely worth it in the end.
When you stick to the game plan, you’re not only able to grow as a human being, you’re able to reclaim your sense of self and figure out who you truly are. And at the end of the day, that’s priceless.
Additional Reading: Want to Stay Sober? Wait a Minute…
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