Create a Substance-Free Environment – One of the greatest things you can do for yourself and your peace of mind is to create a living situation that is free from drugs and alcohol. Surrounding yourself in a positive atmosphere will encourage healthy behaviors. If you live in a house that still has drug paraphernalia in it or with people who are still using drugs and alcohol, it is going to be much more difficult to sustain long-term sobriety. It is highly recommended to create a substance-free environment for your own safety and security. Encourage your friends and family members to acknowledge and support you in your efforts to protect your recovery.
Avoid Dangerous Situations – The most important thing about maintaining recovery is remaining abstinent from all mind-altering substances, which means steering clear of triggering situations that may lead to a relapse. For instance, spending alone time with a heavy-drinker or going to a bar alone might be dangerous situations that can threaten your recovery. Visiting old using friends, drug dealers, or places where you once used can all be damaging to your psyche. Limiting exposure to these types of experiences will keep you safe, especially in those early days of newfound sobriety.
Keep Up Physical Health – Maintaining a physical regiment that includes regular exercise, attention to diet, and routine medical care are all vital practices in building a strong foundation for post-rehab recovery. Achieving a balanced lifestyle will provide the nutrients, endorphins, and preventative medicine necessary to ensure a healthy lifestyle conducive to recovery. Overuse of substances, such as caffeine and sugar, can affect moods and alter your perception in early recovery.
Build A Strong Support Network – 12-step groups have proven to be the greatest network of support anyone in recovery can participate in after rehab. In addition to 12-step groups, group therapy with like-minded individuals, who are pursuing a lifestyle of recovery, can be extremely helpful in sustaining a life of recovery. Fellowships at religious groups, community centers, and athletic facilities may offer additional support for those looking to build friendships outside of the prior routine of addiction, before rehab.
Family Support – Staying accountable and feeling supported in one’s journey through recovery are crucial components in establishing and developing one’s life after drinking. Peer groups and family structures offer support in a loving, unconditional manner that encourages the addict to continue on the path of recovery, even when the road seems incredibly difficult.
Boundary setting is vital for the addict to do in recovery. Setting boundaries is the basis for a balanced life with healthy relationships, so learning this skill is part of a life of sobriety. The skill can help an addict through stressful times when risks of relapse typically increase.
Often addicts do not have healthy boundaries. They may push away people who care and instead seek the company of fellow addicts they barely know who encourage their addiction. But, while boundaries have been blurred by addiction, it is still possible to set clear boundaries again.
When healthy boundaries are rebuilt, a strong structure is in place for recovery. The person in rehab can then focus on goals for himself or herself, rather than wanting to please others, and practice self-exploration, which includes taking time to learn coping techniques for difficult situations that don’t require reaching for drugs or alcohol.
Create firm boundaries with people who support recovery, whether they be family members, friends, church members, or others. By building relationships with a supportive network again, the path to recovery develops more definition and is easier to follow. Boundaries in place with these people help to protect a recovering addict’s morals and values, as well as provide emotional stability and put this individual in a place to take responsibility for future behaviors.
Friends who are substance abuse users are tricky ones when it comes to setting boundaries. The boundaries must be clear so that the person in recovery is not in a tempting environment to return to drugs or alcohol. Unhealthy emotional boundaries can cause a spiral that leads to connecting with inappropriate friends and becoming emotionally attached to them; these supposed friendships are likely to hurt recovery success because they are disrespectful and all-consuming. In other words, there are no clear boundaries.
The difficult part about setting clear boundaries with fellow users is that they will likely feel betrayed and angry at the person seeking recovery. Creating boundaries in this case might be easier to do with the help of a therapist or mentor. Healthy boundaries could include only meeting these friends during daylight hours or in places that do not trigger cravings.
Once boundaries are set, they will likely be put to the test. But by choosing not to let people violate the set boundaries, recovering drug addicts or alcoholics can start to reclaim control of their lives, practice self-care, and not blame others for their issues.
Many drugs are abused because they alter feelings and emotions. For example, opioids, such as Vicodin, cause euphoria and diminish anxiety and stress. CNS depressants, such as Valium, cause relaxation and drowsiness, while stimulants, such as Ritalin, produce increased energy and concentration. For these reasons, it’s easy to see why they are so often abused.
Sobriety presents a number of challenges, but often one of the biggest hurdles the newly sober person faces is learning how to manage what feels like an assault of unfamiliar emotions. In truth, you felt these emotions before you took drugs, but the drugs.the drugs blunted them. Now you may feel overwhelmed. Indeed, many experts believe the inability to handle difficult emotions are what lead many down the rocky path of addiction in the first place.
According to AlcoholRehab.com, early sobriety is often described as being on an emotional rollercoaster ride. This refers to the way people can experience extreme highs and lows from one day to the next — sometimes even one hour to the next. The good news is that these emotional swings will begin to settle down after a few months. However, they may continue to pose a challenge for years.
You will relearn how to manage your emotions sober and you will genuinely feel your true feelings, perhaps for the first time in years. However, a failure to understand what is happening at this critical stage could jeopardize your sobriety. Let’s examine what is going on and what you can do about it.
Be sure to see your doctor regularly for check-ups. Pay close attention to your diet and exercise. According to Addiction Professional, substance abuse and poor nutrition often go hand-in-hand, with one issue exacerbating the other. These nutrient imbalances often can make cravings for alcohol and drugs intensify. They can also worsen depression and anxiety, especially in the early days. The magazine recommends a whole food diet and supplements. Read more about how to nourish your sober, albeit depleted, body here.
Whether you attend 12-step meetings, or any of the other secular support groups (such as SMART, LifeRing), it’s critical to make a commitment to regular meetings. Peer support will help you manage and understand the flood of often overwhelming emotions you are suddenly experiencing. Therapy is another excellent choice and an adjunct to group support. And while you don’t want to overwhelm family and friends, do reach out and try to discuss their lives and concerns (for a change!). Plan sober, healthy activities you can do together, such as seeing a movie or going for a walk.
Even if you can only drag yourself around the block, exercise remains one of the best ways to kickstart those “feel good” endorphins. Such endorphins increase a sense of calm and help with sleep, which is especially critical in the early days of sobriety. Why not try yoga? What was your favorite sport as a kid? Why not hop on a bike again, or pull out your old skateboard?
Listening to music or watching YouTube videos can be relaxing and distract you during times of heightened emotion. Coloring books for adults are the new rage. Such creative expression is a great outlet for your angst, and it is fun, too!