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Early sobriety is both exhilarating and overwhelming. Suddenly, the addict faces a new reality and must live on her own terms without Suboxone numbing the emotional rollercoaster that inevitably follows detox. Establishing a daily routine in recovery can take time, which is why rehab usually sticks to a firm structure. Seek help to get and stay clean from drugs.
Recovery: Taming Chaos, Cultivating Order
People who are caught in the addiction cycle spend hours planning how to find and fund their next fix. Indeed, many addicts build their entire routine around obtaining and using drugs and then recovering from the crash. For that reason, many addicts experience a deep sense of loss and disorientation during early sobriety, because the centerpiece of their lives is gone. Ergo, it is paramount to replace that gaping hole with elements that align with recovery goals. Without filling their days in meaningful ways, recovering addicts find that extra time quickly leads to boredom, resentment and irritability, which put recovery on shaky ground.
Findings from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration show that the key to recovery is finding a meaningful daily structure. For people who are vulnerable to drug use, a basic plan provides safety from wandering thoughts and emotional reasoning, two culprits that often lay the groundwork for relapse. In contrast, routines make people more productive, boost their confidence and helps them break tasks into small, measurable goals.
Sobriety First: Why Recovery Should Top Your To-Do List
Setting and meeting goals are invaluable skills. Once you decide on your objectives, you sit in the driver’s seat of your own life. You begin to choose how to achieve your dreams and also assume responsibility for judging your own progress. Researchers published in the World Psychiatric Association’s journal, World Psychiatry, argue that this sense of self-efficacy raises confidence. However, setting goals is highly personal. Nevertheless, people in recovery often have the following aspirations in common:
- Overcoming weaknesses that raise vulnerability to addiction, such as impulsiveness and unwillingness to delay gratification
- Building emotional sobriety order to experience feelings, not escape them
- Rediscovering passions and hobbies
- Building lasting relationships
- Repairing damage caused by addictive behavior
While all people benefit from setting goals, the habit holds special value for people in recovery. By setting goals, individuals accept accountability for achieving them. In addition, having a goal keeps people motivated; they often become more willing to work hard when they know their efforts will pay off later. In contrast, people in recovery who lack goals may find their progress slowing, because personal growth occurs most often when people challenge themselves.
Goal Setting: Get SMART
Simple memory tools can be a lifesaver in early sobriety, and one useful mnemonic, SMART, helps people stay clean with the following words:
- Specific – Goals must be clear and unambiguous
- Measurable – To know if progress is being made, goals must be measurable
- Attainable – Goals must be realistic and achievable
- Relevant – Make sure you have a solid reason for investing in a goal, particularly if it impacts other people
- Timely – Goals must be achievable within a certain timeframe
The mnemonic SMARTER adds two more characteristics to setting goals: evaluate and reevaluate. It is common for people to fail many times along the journey toward a goal. Some people trip up, because the goal was unrealistic; in this case, go back to the drawing board and start over. If you realize that this type of failure is still valuable, then you can still harvest knowledge from any experience.
The best way to jumpstart your commitment to goals is to set yourself up well at the beginning. Increase your chances of success by breaking ambitious goals into tiny, manageable steps. For example, instead of setting your intention to complete your college degree, set a goal of completing an application and meeting with a career advisor within two weeks. Or, rather than announcing that you will never drink or use drugs again, schedule a meeting into your day and commit to staying abstinent for a 24-hour period. Setting goals with a completion date puts you at risk for getting discouraged and stalling out.
Also keep in mind the following tips:
- Stay flexible – The process of reaching a goal should never be set in stone. Tweak your plan as necessary.
- Set goals for yourself – Setting goals that satisfy other people is a poor approach. You are more likely to hit your mark when it involves things you truly want.
- Aim high, but be realistic – Setting the bar high is noble, but be careful not to give yourself an impossible task. Failing to achieve it could damage your self-esteem.
- Take a team approach – Most successful entrepreneurs admit that they rely on a team of skilled people. It is unproductive for people to believe that they can do everything alone.
- Keep your self-esteem separate – Remember that you are a worthwhile human being, even when you fall short. Let your goals serve you, not the other way around.
- Celebrate small victories – Recovery is about progress, not perfection. Aiming for perfection is a setup for disappointment.
- Write it down – Putting your list of goals on paper can help you to feel more accountable. It can also be a good idea to keep a journal that records the progress towards the goal.
For most people, career and professional goals deserve a prime place on a list of personal objectives. This idea can be tricky, because returning to work too soon after being discharged from rehab can be dangerous, as the added stress of new responsibilities can trigger a relapse. On the other hand, dragging your feet can be just as risky. Research published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse shows that getting a job after treatment is the strongest indicator of long-term success, especially for women.
Help for LGBTs in Addiction
If you or a loved one suffers from drug or alcohol abuse, then please call our toll-free helpline now. Admissions coordinators can discuss addiction treatment and family support, and they are available 24 hours a day. Do not let addiction steal your joy; please call us today for instant, professional support.