If you have just successfully completed drug treatment, it is an major accomplishment that should fill you with a tremendous amount of pride. Through the times of pain, struggle and uncertainty you have emerged healthy, happy and above all sober. While you should celebrate this major life accomplishment and look forwards the future, the recovery process does not end when treatment ends. The real work in your recovery begins once you leave treatment and come back to home to resume your normal daily life.
You Still Have to Put in The Work
In your life after treatment, your focus shifts from learning how to become sober to learning how to stay sober. You have put in some serious sweat equity and endured some trying times in overcoming your substance abuse. Now you have to put in the effort to protect your investment, because temptation is lurking around every corner. The daily stresses of your day to day life along with those triggers that remind you of your addictive past can make you vulnerable to relapse.
You may not want to think about it, but relapse is a common occurrence in recovery no matter how strong your sobriety game. According to statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 40 to 60 percent of people who successfully complete drug treatment will experience a relapse. That may knock some of the wind out of your sails, and you may feel that the deck is stacked against you. While on paper the odds aren’t in your favor, you have the power to minimize those odds and flourish in your recovery if you have the right tools at your disposal.
How to Stay Sober and Strengthen Your Recovery
There isn’t a magic potion or some long hidden secret on learning how to stay sober. It takes continued hard work, perseverance, and focusing on the essential coping skills and relapse prevention skills that you were taught during your stay in drug treatment. It’s time to put those tools to good use, and the following are the most important ways to stay sober.
Lean on Your Support System
One of the most important things that you learn in treatment is that you cannot grow your recovery while in isolation. You need people in your corner who are 100 percent supportive of your recovery-based lifestyle. These folks provide you the encouragement and motivation you need to keep you eyes on the prize and aren’t afraid to speak the truth if you are slipping. Whether it is family, friends, your sponsor or the people in your 12-step or other sober support group, keep them close and contact them often.
Volunteer and Give of Yourself
Another important lesson that is learned in drug treatment is that in order to learn how to stay sober you must help others. Volunteering and mentoring is an excellent way of strengthening your recovery and is the underlying message of the Twelfth Step of AA and other 12-step based support groups. There are many ways that you can give of yourself such as working at a drop-in center, your local hospital or other charity. You can even volunteer to chair a meeting or visit those in nursing homes or prison who are in recovery. Giving of yourself in this capacity allows you to focus on things that are greater than you and people will appreciate you for what you do.
Take Care of Yourself
Another important way to stay sober is to practice excellent self-care. When the body, mind and spirit are aligned it makes working a program of recovery much easier. To help keep the recovery machine fine tuned and firing on all cylinders, you need to engage in proper nutrition, take regular exercise and get plenty of rest. There are a myriad of activities that you can pursue such as yoga, weight training and running. If you need help in creating a balanced and healthy diet, consult a nutritionist or other specialist. As far as getting enough sleep every night, it is suggested you get about eight hours every evening.
When you free yourself from the restraints of substance abuse, you must fill the void with activities that help promote your recovery. A great way to stay sober is to engage in hobbies and other past times that ignite your passions and desires. Maybe you have always wanted to take up a musical instrument, learn another language or learn how to cook–now you can take the time to learn how. Better yet, you can invite family and friends to join the fun.
Strengthen Your Spirituality
A key to learning how to stay sober is to nurture a strong sense of spirituality. Spirituality is a broad concept which embraces a wide variety of beliefs and practices, and the the common thread running through all of these practices is there is something bigger than ourselves. While building spirituality can involve practicing an organized form of religion, there are other ways in which you can promote spiritual growth within yourself such as regular yoga practice, meditation and getting out and enjoying the grand scale of nature. However you decide to increase your spiritual awareness, keep an open mind and heart.
Gratitude is a powerful emotion in which you express thankfulness, gratefulness, or have a feeling or attitude of appreciation regarding a benefit you have received or are about to receive. Gratitude can remind you of the positive things in your life, and in the midst of the trials and tribulations that life can bring, reminding yourself there are people in your life that support and love you brings happiness. Also, having gratitude can change obstacles and bad things into opportunities for positivity and growth. When struggle comes your way, you can be grateful for the challenges that are put before you because they allow you to grow.
Learning how to stay sober isn’t easy, and you will no doubt run into roadblocks along the way. Like anything in life, your recovery is something that you need to continually work on, and you will learn new things about yourself everyday. Use those moments as opportunities to learn and grow.