When your life has gotten so out of control that you have had to make drastic changes because of an addiction, you want to hold on to your transformation for dear life. To help with that you will need to continue to make positive choices to create a completely new lifestyle that will support your recovery efforts. As hard as those first steps were, they are not enough. That is only the beginning of your long-term road to recovery.
“Interrupting addiction does not build ‘recovery,’” writes Dr. Jason Powers. “In fact, abstinence is only a small part of recovery. When we’re successful in treating addicts, it’s because we’re helping them to feel better, have deeper, more nurturing relationships with others, and to be there for themselves.”[i]
It’s probably obvious, but you will need to make basic changes in how you live your life every day in order to stay on the right track of sobriety. Think of a “recovery lifestyle” as insurance for maintaining your sobriety.
There are many advantages to keeping and turning these positive changes into habits as they become part of your life. Some changes you make will result in immediate benefits, while some will take longer, developing over time.
Here are six of the many benefits you can experience once you choose a recovery lifestyle:
You Will Be Physically Healthier
By focusing on your own recovery and what is best for you, the changes you make will likely include healthier choices of what to do with your body, mind and time. This may include a daily exercise routine, meditation, eating healthier and making time for leisure activities such as doing things with friends, focusing on an interest you have, or just enjoying life instead of rushing through it. Physical activity has been shown not only to rebuild muscle, but also to improve mood, overall outlook and to fight depression. These are all tools that can help in your recovery, and are also benefits of living a clean, healthy lifestyle.
“Exercise offers preventative and therapeutic psychological benefits,” writes Christy Matta for PsychCentral.com.[ii] “It can reduce the risk of depression and chronic pain, as well as neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.” She points out that depression, anxiety, addiction, eating disorders and body dysmorphic disorders are all responsive to exercise as part of a treatment plan.
You Will Be More in Tune with Your Self
By knowing yourself well enough to know how you will react in certain situations, you will be better equipped and ready to deal with adversity that comes your way.
Powers writes that there is “strength in being emotionally aware, in confronting self-doubt squarely and openly.”[iii] You will be less likely to relapse if you know yourself intimately enough to see “red flags” when they show up and to have the presence of mind to act positively to stay on track.
By Focusing on the Positive About Your Recovery, You Will Find the Positive in Other Areas
It’s not just “looking on the bright side”—positive psychology is a real area of study. In fact, it is the study of happiness.[iv] “Psychology has traditionally focused on dysfunction—people with mental illness or other psychological problems—and how to treat it,” Psychology Today explains. “Positive psychology, in contrast, is a relatively new field that examines how ordinary people can become happier and more fulfilled.”
Using the strategies based in this area, such as keeping track of one’s blessings each day you can find the meaning and joy that is part of a successful recovery effort.
You Will Find Support in New Places
Although getting sober is a very individual process, one part of your recovery will probably involve meeting regularly with a support group. This is a helpful way for you to stay in touch with positive influences and be reminded of where you want to be. By continuing with your efforts and connecting with other healthy people, you will have a safe place to voice your fears and struggles. They will provide support as well as healthy peer pressure to help you stay sober, and will throw you a lifeline when you need it.[v]
The People Who You Love Will Begin to Trust You Again
During your recovery journey, you have realized how many people have been affected and devastated by your addiction. By working diligently to maintain your sobriety you can show your loved ones how important they are to you and that you will do everything possible to make amends. This is not a quick evolution, of course, but with consistency and honest hard work, over time you may be able to regain their trust. This is a major benefit not only to them, but also to you.
You Are Available to Help Others
The last step in a 12-Step program involves carrying the message to others.
“When an addict calls another addict or receives a call he or she experiences being needed. Every contact provides validation and reinforces the fact that the addict has value to another person,” writes Dr. Linda Hatch.[vi] This interaction gives you a sense of self-worth, reinforcing recovery and helping prevent relapse. Helping others acknowledges that what you went through was worth it, and reminds you how far you have come. This is a benefit with immediate results but also one that can last the rest of your life.
If you have questions about living in recovery, our admissions coordinators will be happy to discuss them with you, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call our toll-free helpline today to find the resources and treatment you need to recover.
[i] “An Introduction: How to Flourish in Addiction Recovery,” by Jason Powers, M.D., Psychology Today, May 12, 2014, www.psychologytoday.com/blog/beyond-abstinence/201405/introduction-how-flourish-in-addiction-recovery
[ii] “How Exercise Impacts Your Mental Health,” By Christy Matta, MA, April 12, 2012, PsychCentral.com, http://blogs.psychcentral.com/dbt/2011/11/how-exercise-impacts-your-mental-health/
[iii] “Stare Down Those Inner Demons and Rebuild Your Life,” by Jason Powers, M.D., Psychology Today, June 24, 2014, www.psychologytoday.com/blog/beyond-abstinence/201406/stare-down-those-inner-demons-and-rebuild-your-life
[iv] “Positive Psychology,” www.psychologytoday.com/basics/positive-psychology
[v] “The Importance of Good Support Systems in Sobriety,” by Cindy Nichols, Nov. 25, 2013, PsychCentral.com, http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/11/26/the-importance-of-good-support-systems-in-sobriety/
[vi] “6 Ways Helping Others Help Addicts Recover,” by Linda Hatch, Ph.D., Dec. 8, 2014, PsychCentral.com, http://blogs.psychcentral.com/sex-addiction/2014/12/6-ways-helping-others-helps-addicts-heal/