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You can break an addiction by not using drugs, but true recovery takes building a whole new way of life. To stay off of drugs, you must find so much passion and purpose in sobriety that the thought of using drugs or alcohol again loses its luster. To learn more about how to make room in your life for sobriety, read on and seek professional help.
#1 Build Structure
Getting sober launches a powerful season of healing and transformation. As your mind and body adjust to sobriety, life comes into focus. However, although this process is positive, it can also seem overwhelming. Even if you complete treatment, then chances are that you are still new at recovery, which means you are somewhat uncomfortable using your skills to stay clean. Understandably, the thought of putting your life in order may feel daunting, but structure is the cure for that stress. The simple predictability of a daily plan will allay the anxiety or depression that accompanies past regrets. A routine can anchor you in the present moment, which will help you become fully aware of your life as it unfolds minute by minute.
Waking up without a plan for the day is a foolproof recipe for chaos. Good intentions (such as attending 12-Step meetings or having coffee with new sober friends) can easily fall by the wayside when fear, anxiety or daydreams make you inefficient or completely sidelined. If you let these problems gobble up your hours, then you will only have a permanent sense of falling behind. In contrast, if you start your day with a plan that guards against relapse, then you will keep moving in the right direction. In fact, writing for News In Health, the monthly newsletter of the National Institute of Health, scientists say that, the more you practice recovery, the better you will get at it. People can change and orient their behavior toward long-term goals and benefits. Additionally, regularly practicing different types of self-control—such as sitting up straight, working out instead of romancing your drug-using days or attending 12-Step meetings—strengthens resolve. Any regular act of self-control gradually exercises your strength at recovery.
#2 Buddy Up
Another strategy that can make room for your sobriety is letting go of relationships that drag you back into former drug-using habits. For better or worse, the people around you influence your recovery in myriad ways. Family and friends can pack a positive punch, while people with whom you once partied can drag you down. In fact, according to research from the U.S. National Library of Medicine, among individuals who relapse after detox, peer pressure has been identified as the primary trigger by 24 percent of adults and 66 percent of adolescents. Your peers can lure you into using drugs or alcohol “one last time,” or they can seed your mind with doubt, which means you will end up questioning whether or not sobriety is worth the effort. Some recovery professionals believe that steering clear of toxic relationships—especially until your sobriety is strongly established—is nearly as critical as abstaining from drugs.
Once you weed out negative influences from your life, replace them with new connections. Waste no time finding new friends. Isolation and loneliness are well-known relapse triggers, so it is important to root yourself in a recovery-friendly community as soon as possible. In fact, research sponsored by the National Institute of Health shows that people with solid backing from friends and family members typically stay sober for longer. The key is to avoid flying solo.
#3 Be Sure to Have Fun
If getting sober raised your awareness of a long list of neglected tasks, then you may leave rehab with a sense of urgency to make up for lost time. With that line of thinking, fun may seem downright frivolous, but recreation is one of the most important aspects of recovery. If you focus only on essentials, then you start down the fast track to burnout and fatigue, which whet the appetite for quick relief through relapse. In contrast, find ways to incorporate fun and wellness into your routine to energize your recovery.
Consider dusting off hobbies you once loved or rediscovering new ones. Psychology Today writers note that hobbies provide pleasure, improve mental and physical wellbeing, cultivate creativity and increase one’s capacity to share experiences with others. You can flavor your life with the following fun activities:
- Join a fitness club
- Take a tour of your own town
- Play with new art supplies
- Take a class or attend a lecture
- Volunteer with an organization you admire
- Start a book club
- Watch a documentary
- Attend a comedy club
Recovery experts assert that, far from being nonessential, rest and relaxation are powerful tools again relapse.
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