Achieving sobriety is no easy feat. From deciding to get help to following through with your commitment to seek treatment, every step of the way requires a will of steel. Those who have recovered from their addiction feel like they’ve been born anew after endless trials in hell, which is why most of them think that’s the end of the road.
Unfortunately, recovering from addiction requires as much work after sobriety as it does during rehab. When the burdens of recovering from addictions feel too heavy to carry, here are a few things to keep in mind.
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Understand Addiction Recovery
Overcoming addiction is an incredible feat you should always be proud of. However, maintaining sobriety largely depends on your mentality. It’s not enough to overcome the hurdle of addiction once and for all. It’s a lifetime journey that demands persistence and constant vigilance.
You must have already experienced various hardships on your road to sobriety. From unbearable cravings to feeling out of control and even opiate withdrawal symptoms, you’ve survived it all. Now that you’re sober, you need to hold onto your rationality even more than ever.
Accept the fact that you’re human, and accept your failures, past, weaknesses, and shortcomings. However, never let them dictate your present or cause you to feel ashamed of what you’ve gone through. Be determined to start a new page, which will require the same level of persistence and commitment on your part, but that’s okay. You’ve done it before; you can keep doing it for a lifetime.
Two of the pitfalls you’re likely to face in sobriety are getting caught up in the past and worrying over the future. These two pitfalls have one thing in common: you’re neglecting the present by focusing your attention on things you can neither change nor control.
Instead of worrying about what you should’ve done or fearing how the future plays out, try practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness is the act of focusing your senses on the present. By connecting your senses to the inner and outer environment, you ground yourself to the present. It’s an amazing exercise that helps you control your thoughts and prevents you from getting lost inside your head.
Practicing gratitude is another exercise that works miracles in maintaining sobriety. Every recovering addict is ridden with regrets; they have a lot of things they’re sorry for and wish they could change. Most of them make it their life’s purpose to right the wrongs they’ve done under the influence of addiction.
These feelings can sometimes be too overwhelming to deal with. The pressure of fixing their lives can also get unbearable at times. For all these distressing feelings, thinking about all the things you’re grateful for can ease the burden and leave you with an open heart. After all, “a grateful alcoholic or addict does not use”, as they say.
Create a Support System
You need to understand and accept that you can’t do everything on your own. Leaving the fate of your sobriety in your own hands can be a dangerous thing, especially on days when you feel triggered or tempted.
Instead, it’s wiser to look for support groups comprising individuals who share your struggles. Many of these support groups follow the 12 steps of recovery to guide and support individuals in maintaining their sobriety. The program is based on the 12 steps of acceptance, hope, willingness, personal inventory, self-disclosure, humility, amends list, making amends, continued inventory, spiritual growth, and giving back.
There will be times when the cravings and temptations get so strong that you’re unable to think rationally. During those times, distracting yourself is the best thing you can do, and what better instant distraction than working out?
Working out has a myriad of benefits. For starters, physical exercise makes you stronger on both a physical and mental level. It’s also an excellent outlet for letting go of bottled-up stress in a healthy way that leaves you refreshed and at peace.
The next time you crave, just get active. Do push-ups until your arms give out or jog until your mind is clear. Just exhaust your energy in physical activity to distract yourself from toxic thoughts and cravings.
Last but not least, stay strong by creating meaning in your life. When you’re left with nothing to work for or care about, boredom is bound to make its toxic way into your head. Keep yourself busy with beneficial activities and decide to be productive each day. When you’re focused on building the bricks of your life, you’ll be too busy to give in to temptations.
At the end of the day, remember that staying sober is all about maintaining control. Accept that there’ll be things you can’t control, and then let go of the thoughts, feelings, people, and situations that don’t serve you anymore. Most of all, focus on the things you can control and stay grounded in your present.