3 Ways to Make Your Sobriety Your Priority
Alarming statistics show a high number of recovered addicted individuals returning to old destructive habits through relapse, sometimes within only weeks of their initial sober date. However, rather than accept this as an indicator that it is just too difficult to achieve a sober and drug free lifestyle, it would be wise to recognize that the approach to sobriety is often lacking the right process. This can be corrected with a few simple principles that can help anyone who is trying to recover permanently from addiction to make staying sober not just a goal, but also a priority.
Just Give Up
Give up? In what sense? Give up on the idea that you will find pleasure in your addiction, that is. Addicts who return to the same places of recreation for a happy time are looking in the trash for old leftovers when there is a healthy buffet on the table. If you can learn to consider your addictive substance of choice as refuse—trash—and to feel as repulsed by them as you would by any other filth, the temptations will not become so romanticized in your own mind.
And if you struggle to dislike your addiction, you are not alone. If your addiction served a purpose in your life—for comfort, or peace, or just to get you by day-to-day—it makes sense that you may want to hold on to that addiction. Consider trying to let your substance go just for a little while, or consider accepting support to let it go. Sometimes, it is just enough to ask for support and help.
Put Your Wellness and Sobriety First
Yes, you need friends. Yes, you need recreation. Yes, exercise and eating and socializing are all needs, they are all good—but from now on, they fall second. Or third, or fourth. It is all about priority. Staying sober comes first.
Ask yourself before engaging in any other activity—will this help me to maintain my sobriety, or will it put me into some setting where I might unnecessarily be exposed to temptation? If the answer to the latter half of the question is yes, there is no reason to go any further. If your conscious mind is properly trained to have the right view of the importance of your sobriety, the joys will not come from that activity. Put yourself in sober environments—if something that you used to enjoy is anything less than that, better to give it up.1
Stop Struggling to Stay Sober
Feelings of being overwhelmed sap the energy out of any human being. Discouragement is something that we all experience from time to time. However, prolonged bouts of discouragement are dangerous. They seriously rob one of joy and the ability to stay motivated, sometimes just wasting energy away and making days pass without feelings of joy or accomplishment. For recovering addicts, recognizing just how many lifestyle changes need to be made is so overwhelming that they not only feel like they do not know where to begin, they may also be at a loss for how to continue day after day once they do. 2
Sobriety, on the other hand, should not include such a struggle. This is not to say that there is no work involved in leading a drug-free lifestyle. Many tasks that are imagined to be so daunting will really need to be handled, and this will indeed require energy and effort. But it is a lie to believe that they are beyond reach.
Embrace the Support Network
Remember that being overburdened leads to being overwhelmed, and being overwhelmed leads to discouragement, and being discouraged leads to relapse. So, stop struggling. Take a break! Everything needs to be done, but not at this very second—and not necessarily all by you.3
Let others around you know what your goals are, what you feel your responsibilities are, and be clear and respectful about how you intend to follow through with them. This will likely earn their respect and increase their trust in the fact that you are trying. But be careful not to promise too much, as you will set yourself up to fall short on achieving those promises, perhaps appearing more irresponsible.
Accept help when it is offered, and express your feelings tactfully to someone in whom you feel that you are able to confide. There is no need for everyday life to be an unbearable struggle—remember the words of wisdom, one day at a time. One day at a time.
Fall in Love
It has been said that people fall in love by looking at the good, and fall out of love by focusing on the negative. Do this with your new lifestyle. Encourage attractive behavior in yourself by examining the little daily benefits that come with the addiction-free state. Is your mind a little clearer from meditation? Express appreciation for what you enjoy around you. Do you find that you are able to enjoy and take pride in regular and routine things with a clean conscience now, like driving?4 Are relations at home more peaceful for certain moments? Cherish those moments, and add loving creations to them, perhaps by fixing a nice meal or paying a nice comment of affection to a family member.
Do you feel a little more energy and focus that you can channel into a hobby or volunteer service? We always set priority on the things that we love. If you consciously cultivate love for being sober, you will find yourself even subconsciously following the path of keeping sobriety your top priority. If you are struggling with addiction and need extra support, we are on standby 24 hours, 7 days a week to answer your addiction concerns and questions. Give us a call at our toll-free helpline today!
1 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3057870/. Alcohol Research Group Public Health Institute, “What Did We Learn from Our Study on Sober Living Houses and Where Do We Go from Here?” Retrieved 12/26/15.
2 http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/preface National Institute on Drug Abuse, Updated July 2014, Retrieved 12/26/15.
3 http://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health/illnesses/alcoholism.html US Department of Health and Human Services, “Mental Health- Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Addictive Behavior” Retrieved 12/26/15.
4 http://healthfinder.gov/News/Article/694725/stay-sober-or-be-pulled-over-this-holiday-season US Department of Health and Human Services, “Stay Sober or Be Pulled Over this Holiday Season” Published: December 29 2014 Found: 12/26/15