Sobriety comes with many rewards: Clarity, a renewed sense of self-worth, and a new perspective free from the grip addiction once held. You’ve worked hard to get there. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any harder, the new challenge of rebuilding your life is before you. This process can, in itself, be sobering, but with support, can lead to some pretty inspiring discoveries.
For some sobriety means facing a host of legal and financial issues, not to mention the rebuilding of relationships with close family and friends. For others, housing, work, or rides to and from a new job may be an issue. Those with young children face possible custody-related challenges.
Facing these issues is intimidating, but you need not do it alone. Rebuilding a life in recovery involves several key steps:
- Be Patient and Realistic
- Identify and Avoid Drug Triggers
- Create New Rewarding Habits
- Take Care of Yourself
- Watch for Signs of Relapse
Prioritize Your Life
The very first task ahead of you in that early stage of recovery involves prioritizing your life. During the course of addiction, you’ve likely made some mistakes. If you’re lucky, they’re minor (maybe you owe Uncle Lou some money). If major, you may have been left in the dust by your addiction facing legal challenges, serious financial and social strain, housing and employment issues, medical problems, and custody issues, if children are part of the picture. To assume these problems won’t amount to a whole lot of stress is unrealistic. They can be managed, though, and with time, they will shrink in significance.
Begin with a list. What are the most significant issues that must be handled straight away. Address these first. It’s normal to be afraid and to feel anxiety about this part of the process. You may want to work on the list with your sponsor or a close friend or family member. Work on it in increments; take breaks even if you feel like you’ll never get it all done. A short walk can do a lot to decrease stress.
For some, it helps to set a timer. Work on the list or a task from the list for 30 minutes, with breaks in between. Plan a few sessions per day or more, if comfortable to accomplish each task. Reward yourself with a fun activity (a movie, walk on the beach, a hot bath) after each complicated task so you can unwind. This process will also help you train your brain for successful time management later on.
Be Patient And Realistic
Sometimes, after you’ve gotten into the grove of your new life, it can become frustrating when things don’t fall into place as easily. You may have succeeded in accomplishing some high priority goals like getting a job, locating housing, and working on your list, but maybe you still do not have a driver’s license or custody of your children, situations that can add a level of urgency to the stress. It is easy to feel angry and even resentful of these situations, but critical to remember this process takes time. That doesn’t make it any less painful, but let it serve as a reminder that you are working toward a goal that includes the people and freedoms you value.
Try also to be realistic about what you can accomplish outside of your goals toward sobriety. Taking on too much in terms of outside responsibilities can distract from the primary goal to remain sober. Include new responsibilities one at a time as you feel you can handle them to ensure your long-term well-being.
Identify And Avoid Drug Triggers (Including People)
Miss your old drinking buddies? That’s normal. Unfortunately, so is relapse. If you want to avoid drinking again, it’s best to avoid people who encourage you to drink. They don’t have your best interest in mind and may be caught up in their own addictions. If you spend time with people who are currently using, at some point, they’re going to offer you a drink. Avoid this situation and other drug triggers, including places you used to frequent when you drank.
Sometimes a craving will hit hard at a particular time of day. This is normal. The best way to work through those initially strong cravings is to set aside a particularly enjoyable activity for that same period of the day. Circumventing the craving with an activity that stimulates your brain is one way to begin healing an addicted mind.
Create New Rewarding Habits
Create new and rewarding habits to replace the highs you used to get from using with those that benefit your well-being. Exercise, meditation, yoga, music, writing, sports, hiking, swimming, gardening, and reading are all ways to get caught up in something you enjoy. In addition to the rewards of completing a new project or learning a new craft, is the benefit of rewiring your brain toward healthy activities and away from drug cravings.
Take Care Of Yourself
You’ve already taken a big step in getting sober; life post-treatment requires that you continue to take care of yourself. After abusing alcohol or other drugs, your body is at greater risk of illness. Eating well and getting exercise are two ways to improve your overall physical health and being aware of your emotional health is equally as important.
It may sound like a no-brainer, but sleep and water are critical components of a healthy mind and body. If you need a rest, allow yourself the freedom to take a nap. And be sure you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Water helps flush the body of toxins and promotes healthy cell growth. Finding time to relax is also paramount to a healthy mind and body. Taking a hot bath, curling up with a good book, or taking that much needed nap are indulgent; they’re a positive step toward rebuilding a healthy lifestyle in recovery.
Be Aware Of The Signs Of Relapse And Have A Plan in Place
Most importantly, remember alcoholism is a dangerous and potentially life-threatening disease. While some people relapse a few times before achieving sobriety, each relapse carries additional risks. One way to avoid relapse is to know the signs.
If you find yourself reminiscing about the “good ol’ days,” or thinking you are okay to take just a sip, seek out your sponsor or a support person instead. It’s normal for people to have bad days, but if you find yourself making bad choices again, like calling your old drinking buddies, and getting defensive of these choices, then you may want to take a big step back and re-evaluate your thinking.
Other signs of relapse include letting go of those things that once anchored you to sobriety, distancing yourself from your support network, and reaching out to your alcohol-addicted friends. Instead of turning to alcohol, reach for the phone and call for help.
Help For Alcohol Addiction Is Here
If you’ve been battling alcohol addiction and need help, AlcoholTreatment.net can connect you with the resources and treatment options to meet your individual needs. Contact us and begin the process of rebuilding your life.