Addiction is not an easy chain to break, but it’s possible.
Taking the step to get sober is a huge lifestyle change, and a challenge that will seem daunting at first -- but it’s doable, whether you believe it now or not.
If you’re early in your sobriety, whether you went to rehab or are getting sober on your own, there are ways to help you keep going and ensure that you stay sober for the long haul. Some tips that have come from those who have been there:
Create a sober environment. Get rid of all temptation in your home, including all alcohol and drugs. If it’s not there, you won’t be tempted by it. If you have roommates, ask them to oblige you this rule. If they won’t, you probably need to move out and get into a better living environment. Find a safe neighborhood that isn’t populated with bars on every corner, or move in with a family member who will support your walk through sobriety. Unfortunately, giving up drugs and alcohol often means giving up many aspects of your old life, including your living arrangements.
Reach out for support. Taking care of your mental health is a key step in preventing relapse, and a support system is the biggest piece. For many people, the best support comes from 12-step meetings and sponsors. You can also rely on a good family member or friend who understands your situation and won’t let you get tempted. If you aren’t going into a residential rehab facility, you should reach out to a professional addiction counselor. He or she can help you navigate sobriety with a better understanding of what you’re going through. You can ask your doctor or insurance company for a referral, or go to support groups and ask around.
Remove people and places. If you have friends who trigger you to drink or do drugs, you have to stop hanging out with them. It sounds harsh, but true friends will want to help you get better. You’re making a major life change, so you need to go all-in.
Start a routine. Many people in sobriety find that life is a bit easier if you make a schedule for yourself. If you have things to do all day, you won’t be as distracted by your need for drugs or alcohol.
Incorporate fitness. Studies have shown how well exercise can help those in addiction recovery to prevent relapse. Starting a good workout routine, such as running, can make you feel better for many reasons, including making you more healthy and giving you a “runner’s high.” Don’t worry, that runner’s high isn’t like getting high in real life. It’s a feeling you get after vigorous exercise that brings happiness, euphoria and the feeling that you can accomplish anything. Guess what -- you can!
Manage life day by day. Getting sober isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. It’s not going to be easy -- in fact, it may be the hardest thing you ever do. But it’s totally worth it. If you’re struggling to not go to the liquor store or call your dealer, call a friend or sponsor who can talk you through it.
Prepare for relapses. Addiction relapse rates are between 40 and 60 percent, and they are part of getting sober. You’ll likely fail a few times before you get it right, so don’t beat yourself up for it. You’re only human, and doing anything well takes practice.
No matter which path you take to sobriety, getting there is important to your health and your life. Remember that there are others out there who have been through the exact same thing you have, and you can lean on them for support and encouragement. When you are finally free of the clutches of addiction, you’ll feel so much better and happier.
Written by: Melissa Howard