In the rooms of recovery, addiction is likened to a greedy monster that wants to reassert its control over your life. Virtually everyone who has received treatment for a substance use disorder (SUD) has experienced a strong urge to relapse. Statistically, almost everyone with an SUD who pursues sobriety does relapse. The best-case scenario is that the person can realize what’s happening and proactively get help before giving into the urges.
Once you make courageous decision to get help for an addiction, the path to rebuilding your life can be a slow process. You need to commit to changing many things in your life that contributed to the cycle of addiction so that your life is now filled with a new outlook, new activities, new friends, “new everything.” Do not be overwhelmed by the prospect of so much change, it is a well-worn path with many to help you, and if you listen to them it can actually be easier than you think.
Change the Way You Take Care of Your Body
In early recovery, it is recommended that you eat healthy, nutritious food, exercise regularly, and get good sleep. Your body has been physically challenged by your drug use and these activities help it heal.
You are encouraged to develop a new, fun hobby such as surfing, hiking, or cycling, Find others in recovery to pursue these activities with. You’ll be having fun while giving your body the exercise it needs, and building momentum towards long-term sobriety and away from a relapse. Studies have shown that exercise relieves stress, raises the endorphin level to help you feel good, and helps you to get restful sleep.
Make New Acquaintances that are In Recovery
Virtually everyone who pursues sobriety will be exposed to group therapy and, most commonly, 12-Step meetings, like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. Part of the culture of these groups is to form friendships with like-minded sober people to pursue healthy activities together.
Socializing and dining are great activities to enjoy with other sober people. Spend time doing activities like cooking, yoga and sports with other recovering people. Enroll in a class with a sober friend to learn a new skill or hone one you already have.
Practice Gratitude and Help Others
Finding things to be grateful for is an invaluable behavioral activity that leads to happiness and satisfaction, and is almost universally recommended by addiction therapists. By being grateful for what we have, we learn to see life in a more balanced perspective.
Actively being of service to others is another productive activity that improves your outlook and mental health. By helping others, we can forget our own troubles and learn to value ourselves again.
Keep Your Head Up After Setbacks
As you continue to grow into healthier habits and a sober lifestyle, don’t beat yourself up if you have a bad day, suffer a setback, or even a relapse. These can be steppingstones to a stronger and more serene sobriety. Continue to do the best you can, a maintain your sobriety ‘one day at a time.’
About the Author
Scott H. Silverman has been helping men and women recover from addiction for almost 40 years. He is the CEO of Confidential Recovery, an IOP drug rehab in San Diego that specializes in helping veterans.