Living the sober life is a challenge – but challenges are what shape people and, generally, help us become stronger and better individuals. When framing something as a challenge, it doesn’t become an impossible wall to climb, but a mountain to conquer.
That’s exactly the kind of attitude that best describes a successful recovery – but getting there, to the point where you can feel confident in your ability to overcome addiction and achieve sobriety, is no walk in the park. Millions of Americans struggle with their drug addiction and most of them either don’t or can’t seek treatment for their problem.
That is a problem in and of itself, and affordable outpatient treatment facilities are doing their best to change that for the country – yet past rehab and addiction treatment, many Americans continue to struggle with their vice after initial treatment is over and long-term recovery begins.
Regardless of whether you’re going into the sober life on your own or through the program of a health care professional, a successful sober life depends on several things. Without a solid foundation for your sobriety, it’s not unlikely that you will see more than one relapse over the course of your recovery.
Relapses, of course, are never the end of someone’s journey – but by starting your sober life off right, you can minimize the hardship of your path towards long-term sobriety, and enjoy the fruits of a drug-free life. Here are a few guidelines for starting your sobriety off right:
Figure Out What Self-Love Means
It may sound like a tired cliché most people want to avoid, but the first proper step to any successful sober life (one that can last decades, and even an entire lifetime) is self-love. However, because of the connotations of love and its sheer commitment, there’s a lot of misunderstanding around what it means to love yourself.
Self-love in the psychological and therapeutic sense is not some type of delusional self-aggrandizement. In fact, that’s something to be wholly avoided. Instead, self-love is a product of pure honesty. And there is no way to really succeed in sobriety unless you start believing in yourself even just a little.
Addiction typically lands people in very unfavorable places in life. Addiction tears apart families, destroys relationships and ends careers. It ages your body and brain by several decades and leaves you feeling guilty and ashamed, because you blame yourself for everything that has happened. Or you don’t, but secretly do anyways.
Self-love means stepping out of that mindset after treatment, and embracing the idea of a new you. People often craft their own personas – at a specific point in life, they begin to define themselves and stick to that definition come hell or high water. The first step into a lasting sober life is amending that identity to fit the possibility of you being a good person again, and perhaps one day, a great person.
In short, self-love means giving yourself a chance. If you can do that, everything else becomes possible.
Get Good At Something
It’s understandable to struggle with self-love – many people do, without the challenges posed by addiction. However, if anything can help someone better believe in themselves, it’s the ability to do something they can be proud of.
An important part of any journey through sober life is progress, not just in your own emotions and behavior, but in something you enjoy doing. By progressing and improving at a skill or hobby, you can keep track of both the time and the changes that have come to pass since you decided to quit doing any drugs.
Getting good at something will give you more use than simply just feeling good about yourself. It can also give you the opportunity to take your life into an entirely new direction, exploring career options and ways to monetize your hobby. If you need something to keep you busy, then turning your favorite pastime into a regular monthly paycheck can become the most profitable, rewarding and entertaining project you will ever go for.
Make New Friends For Sober Life
Friends matter in addiction recovery, for the simple reason that isolation and loneliness can kill all motivation to get better. That, and there is a good chance that your old friends, as much as they say they love you, could drag you back into your life of addiction.
Choose wisely what friends to keep contact with, and work on meeting new people in sobriety who share your interests, or are just looking for other interesting people to share tips with in staying sober.
Sober dating, sober meetings, and sober activities like raves and parties – through the Internet, it is far easier than it has ever been to find people in your area to talk to and incorporate into your own little community.
Get Invested In Work
They say idle hands are the Devil’s playthings, and while there may be sinister connotations to that, it’s true that one of the biggest issues in sobriety is running out of things to do. Addiction and boredom do not mix well, and it is especially in your best interest to stay busy in the first three months of your sober life. While the entire first year is arguably the hardest to make it through, it only really takes you a few months to build a habit of sticking to a productive schedule.
However, you need a schedule to begin with. If you don’t have school or a job to go to, then find a hobby to pursue while actively looking for a place to study/work. When you do have work, invest yourself in it. Work can be an effective way to take your mind off other stresses and instead get “stuck into it”. However, if you abjectly despise what you do for a living, then a big step in real sobriety is finding another line of work. Addiction is not just a tragedy, it can be an opportunity to improve your way of living.
Get Close To Family
Many cases of addiction don’t do the family any favors – families can be tough to maintain as it is, but something like an addiction can either bring everyone together, or push everyone very far apart.
If you have a troubled past with your family and want to make up for it, then do. It’s extremely important to feel that you have closure with the people who matter most to you, and if you are serious about your sobriety then chances are that your family will accept and support you.
However, not everyone has a family they are happy with. Do not force yourself to reunite with a family that hurt you and pushed you away without reason; in fact, it may only harm your future sobriety. Instead, make yourself a new family: a tightknit circle of supportive friends that matter most to you.