At any given time, there are more than 23 million people dealing with addiction in the US.
With that many people struggling in their own way, there are really 23 million different ways to approach addiction recovery. However, there are some basic things to keep in mind when you’re trying to stay clean and sober following recovery.
Here are 6 tips to keep in mind when you’re working on staying clean after you’ve gone through recovery.
1. Keep A Routine
One of the most important things to have for anyone dealing with addiction issues is a schedule. With a schedule comes responsibilities. Even if you don’t have a large network relying on you, being able to please yourself is important.
A routine where you hold yourself responsible for completing regular tasks can help you to keep sober and keep your life organized.
Start out by scheduling out your days hour by hour. Even if you’ll be working a 9-5 job, try to predict what you’ll be doing at every hour. The chaos of losing control over your time could easily lead you to make scary decisions that bring you back to your addiction.
Your routine could contain scheduled exercise times, scheduled meetings with friends and loved ones, or even scheduled meals. It might seem meticulous at first, but you’ll find that it will feel natural after awhile. It was your old way of doing things that got you into trouble. A new way of doing things could be your way out of repeating the same things that caused you to seek recovery treatment.
2. Build A Sober Network
Everybody needs somebody to lean on. When you’re out on your own after rehab or following addiction recovery, you need to build a network of sober people.
Going back to the same social circles might mean that you’re dealing with the same people you used to use or drink with.
Your new network might be hard to build, but if you’ve been in a program, you’ve probably met people who would like to help. There’s a mutual need for other people in a recovery program to find people they can rely on. It’s hard to start from scratch but it’s possible.
Make sure that your network, if not made up of former addicts or alcoholics, is understanding of your needs. They shouldn’t make a big deal every time you show up. They shouldn’t draw any attention to your addiction that you don’t feel comfortable with.
A network that respects your struggle will help you to grow. If you’re having trouble finding people who can help you, this company might be able to set you up with a group that could introduce you to some new people.
3. Try Some New Activities
When you’re in recovery, you’re going to have to find some new things to do that don’t center around your old addiction. When people are addicted to drinking, they might have spent their time around bars a lot. Even if you did things like go bowling or go out to sports events, there is a lot of temptation to drink there.
Why not try some new activities that your new network of sober friends is into. Going fishing, camping, or rock climbing can be a great way to get out of your normal pattern of life and experience something different for a change.
Say yes to new experiences and activities. You need to embrace a new pattern of life and open up your free time to something other than your old addiction.
If you’ve been thinking about getting involved at a soup kitchen, volunteering with a non-profit, or helping with an after-school program, now’s the time. Just because something makes you feel good too, doesn’t mean that it’s a selfish enterprise. You can do good to feel good.
4. Prioritize Your Health
One of the things you’ll notice soon after cleaning up is that your health will improve immensely. If you quit using drugs or drinking, you might find that you wake up happier and more energized. It’s easier to get a jump on healthier living after you’ve recently become clean and sober.
Start scrutinizing the way that you eat. When you’re drinking or using drugs, you’re not thinking much about what you’re putting in your body, but now you can think about feeling good in every way.
If you’ve ever thought about going vegetarian or vegan, why not give it a shot now? The act of preparing good food is a great substitute for the time you used to devote to using or drinking.
While some people will suffer from cross-dependency, make that cross-dependency a healthy one. Supplanting drugs and alcohol for chocolate and soda isn’t going to make your life much better. Ask around to your most culinarily inclined friends and see if they can recommend some cookbooks or recipes to try.
Start a new exercise routine if you didn’t have one before. Now is the time to get fit and buff. The better shape you get in, the better you’ll feel.
When you’re stressed and feeling like you might start using again, it’s nice to be able to hop on a bike or go for a run until the feeling passes. You might find that a runner’s high is your new replacement for the feeling you used to get from using.
5. Join a Sobriety Group
If you’re wrestling with your addiction on your own, stop. You deserve to have a network and there are plenty of resources to help you find one.
Whether you join AA, NA, or any other kind of recovery group, a sober group where you can talk about your struggles is a must. Many programs recommend that you attend every day. While this might not be a permanent need for you, it might take you a year of regular attendance to be able to be sober on your own.
Being sober on your own shouldn’t be your immediate goal. You should feel like you can depend on the help from a sobriety support group.
If there was a specific trauma that led to your drug or alcohol abuse, find a group that deals with that trauma specifically. There are sobriety groups that specialize in helping veterans, people with disabilities, or people who were abused in the past. Whatever your trauma is, you can find people who understand.
Sobriety groups offer you a built-in network of people who can understand what you’re going through and will need your help as much as you need them. Lend support to the people who you think you have things in common with and they’ll be sure to pick up your calls when you’re struggling.
6. Take On New Responsibilities
One of the best ways to deal with addiction is to fill up your time with new responsibilities. By taking on new things, you ensure that you’ve got a reason to be accountable and a network of people who are holding you accountable.
At work, you could take on more hours. Beware of becoming a workaholic, but if your addiction caused you to slip in your responsibilities, your boss will be happy to see you taking action. It will be a welcome surprise to see you enthusiastic about new projects at your office or workplace.
With your partner, you should show them that you want to take on new roles at home or with your family. If you have kids, you can start taking care of them more often, taking them to their games or after-school programs. If you haven’t been doing enough domestic work or cooking family dinners, you can make up for it now.
If there’s a home improvement project you’ve been slacking on, it’s time to take control of it and make it a priority.
If you’ve got a hobby that you haven’t been focusing on, maybe it’s time to make it something closer to a career. Your band, your art, or your writing could benefit from the experience of your struggle to get sober. Use those feelings in your work and you’ll find that you’re better off for it.
If you have the opportunity to speak in front of a group, you could find your struggle can inspire others. Even starting a blog can be a way to reach out to people who need to hear what you have to say.
Addiction Recovery Is Possible
While the initial work of detoxing and kicking your addiction is a major achievement, addiction recovery will require continuous work. To stay happy and healthy, you have to monitor your recovery every step of the way. The most important thing is to have people around you who want to see you succeed.
If you want to make recovery easier at home, check out our guide on how to treat yourself by turning your bathroom into a DIY spa.