An Idiot’s Guide to Staying Sober and Happy
Struggling with substance abuse can be a scary and depressing existence for anyone. For many people in recovery, one of their greatest fears is relapsing after completing substance abuse treatment and returning to the life of addiction or alcoholism that they have worked so hard to overcome. While substance abuse treatment is certainly the most appropriate first step for someone’s recovery, staying clean from drugs and alcohol for a lifetime requires hard work and dedication for a lifetime.
While everyone has different needs when it comes to maintaining sobriety, there are a few things that most addiction professionals and long-term recovering addicts and alcoholics will agree are crucial to maintaining a happy life free from drugs and alcohol. Here are the most common tips for someone to stay sober and happy for the rest of their life:
Stay connected to a strong support network
Staying sober is almost impossible to do alone. When you are in a substance abuse treatment facility, you have counselors and staff which can act as your support network. However, once you leave treatment it is up to you to establish that network and make sure to stay connected to it. This support network can include other sober people that you went to substance abuse treatment with, as well as other people in recovery you meet at support groups and 12-step meetings and family members who you have a healthy relationship with.
This support network is crucial as these are the people that you will be able to rely on in the future when you do come across difficult times or situations in which you need advice. For many people, their number one source of support is their sponsor, which is another person in recovery who acts as a sort of sobriety mentor and helps lead you on a path towards long-term sobriety.
Dedicate yourself to helping others
While a life of sobriety may begin for many in a substance abuse treatment facility, maintaining that sobriety, and the happiness that goes along with it often requires one to dedicate a portion of their life to helping others. Sometimes referred to as service work, it allows someone to give back to the community, stay busy and feel good about themselves and what their sobriety has allowed them to do for the world.
Helping others can be done in countless ways and while it doesn’t necessarily have to be directly related to recovery, many people in sobriety choose to give back by helping other people who are still struggling with addiction and alcoholism. This can come in the form of visiting substance abuse treatment centers and offering to sponsor some of the patients or it can be as simple as making coffee and cleaning up at a local support group meeting. It doesn’t really matter what you’re doing, just as long as you’re showing your gratitude for your new life in recovery by giving back to your community.
Find healthy hobbies and activities
Many people who are recovering from addiction and alcoholism find it difficult to transition into a life of sobriety because so much of their previous life revolved around the drink or the drug. Replacing those daily activities that were involved with drinking and getting high with healthier alternatives is crucial for happiness in sobriety. This will not only combat boredom and the risk of relapse, but it will allow you to find new passions for life without the need for drugs and alcohol.
The options for fun and healthy hobbies is almost endless. Many times, substance abuse treatment programs will help introduce their patients to different hobbies and activities during their stay, but whatever makes you happy and feel fulfilled is a great option. Some of the most common hobbies for people in sobriety include team sports like softball, which they participate in with other people in recovery, or going to the gym. Just like with service work, it is not really about what you’re doing as long as it is healthy and enjoyable for you.
Avoid old friends and behaviors
One of the most common triggers for relapse, especially for those new to recovery, is going back to old friends and behaviors. When you’re in a substance abuse treatment facility is can be pretty easy to stay on the right path and steer clear of these tempting and dangerous situations, however, it can be difficult to avoid them once you leave your substance abuse treatment facility. No matter how strong you feel in your sobriety, tempting fate by going around old friends is a recipe for disaster.
Replacing those old friends and behaviors with newer ones is exactly what finding happiness in sobriety is about. A life of sobriety is about a lot more than simply stopping the drinking or drug use. It is about changing every aspect of your life and learning how to be happy and productive for the rest of your life.
Don’t get complacent
When you leave inpatient substance abuse treatment, your painful history is usually still recent enough that motivation for change is not too difficult. However, the more time in sobriety you get, the more difficult it can sometimes be to maintain that dedication. This is where a lot of people in recovery struggle.
There is no doubt that continuing to act in order to maintain your sobriety can be hard work. A life in recovery has many blessing such as good jobs, new relationships, families and the other things which most people dream of. While these are all great things, it is important to remember that these things are a result of your sobriety. That means that letting them distract you from continuing to work on your sobriety can lead to complacency, which is the first step on a dangerous road to relapse for many people.
Many times people are able to gradually decrease the amount of time they dedicate directly to their sobriety, but no matter how long you have been sober you should never completely leave behind your commitment to maintaining your sobriety. After all, it has been a long journey and you deserve to be happy.