6 Strategies To Maintain Recovery
There are a handful of myths out there that never go away – no matter how many times they’re disproved. Think of the phrase, “get rich quick.” In your mind, you may know, “get rich quick” isn’t legitimate – you’ve been warned against it by parents, teachers, financial advisors. But deep down, is there maybe a small part of you that holds on to the belief that, “get rich quick” may actually be possible?
There’s a few reasons we fall for myths like this:
- We want things to be easy
- We want things to happen quickly
- We feel like we deserve it
- We’re desperate
“Get rich quick” can be paralleled to the idea of a quick and simple solution for “making it” in recovery. Who wouldn’t desire a quick and easy, pain-free remedy to overcome all of the anxiety, guilt, shame and fears that can loom after getting help for drug or alcohol addiction?
There’s no fast and easy, sure-fire plan to succeeding in recovery. There are no short-cuts or schemes. There’s no “get rich quick.” However, what does exist are proven and effective solutions that have been researched, tested, tried and true; Solutions that have given many people a sense of fulfillment and direction, inspiration, purpose – and most importantly, hope.
The solutions below are a culmination of what we’ve found in the recovery community, as well as advice and recommendations from professionals and experts in addiction treatment. While one solution may work for one person, another may not. It’s important to recognize that recovery is a uniquely personal experience – and there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to maintaining sobriety. We suggest you take what resonates with you – and keep an open mind to the things you haven’t tried, adapt and tailor these solutions to your personality, and use your best judgement. After all, it’s your sobriety – and your life.
- Use Your Tools.
Remember the time you spent in addiction treatment? You learned a lot while you were there – whether it was Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) skills such as mindfulness, how to pray or connect with your higher power, or coping skills. You used new skills for dealing with peer pressure and triggers. You practiced while in rehab, and now you need to apply them to life outside of those walls – and you must continue to use those tools on a daily basis.
- Avoid Temptation.
The same faces in the same places will get you into trouble. You know the situations that may infringe on your sobriety. Your old buddies that are still shooting heroin or doing cocaine? The corner pub you’d close down every night? Your favorite rock band’s concert where everyone smokes marijuana and takes acid? Don’t put yourself around people or places that make it easy to drink or drug – no matter how strong you may feel. Those are dangerous practices no matter how long you’ve been sober. Instead, stick with close friends in recovery you’ve met at meetings or in church – and maintain sobriety together.
- Stick to the Plan – and when you’re ready – Change it Up.
If you’re fresh out of rehab, stick to your plan of recovery. Eat regular nutritious meals, get the right amount of exercise and sleep, attend 12-step meetings, get a sponsor and be a sponsor, read recovery literature, pray, keep appointments with your doctor or therapist, and return to work. Having a set daily or weekly routine keeps you on your plan, and gives you a solid recovery foundation upon which you can continue to build your new life.When you’re ready, it’s OK to change up the plan a little. Practicing the same recovery activities day in and day out can be stabilizing, but, after a while, it can also make life a little too predictable. Don’t wait to become bored – if you feel like your sober life has fallen into a rut, make it a point to participate in a new recovery activity each week. You may find that going to various meeting times or sober events like workshops or dances, allows you to meet new people. Connecting with new sober people may provide some much needed change that will keep your recovery rewarding.
- Keep Busy.
“Idle hands are the Devil’s playground.” You’ve heard the expression before and it still holds true. Now that you’re no longer hanging out with the people you drank and drugged with before treatment, you may feel a sense of boredom. When you’re feeling like you want to drink out of boredom, restlessness, or loneliness, call your support group. Make new friends, pick up new, safe hobbies, and return to the activities you enjoyed before you started taking Hydrocodone or drinking. Find employment, return to school, occupy your time. Having plenty to do will help with the feelings of self-worth.
- Discuss The Difficulties.
When you run into a challenge, don’t keep it to yourself. It’s alright to let your feelings out and share what you’re going through with recovering friends, a sponsor, or at a 12-step meeting. If you’re going through something, the chances are high that someone else is going through it, has gone through it, or will go through it. Sharing what’s on your mind or in your heart will not only help you, it may also help someone else. Remember, recovery programs are “we programs” – you don’t just stay sober by yourself.
- Give Back with a Purpose.
Volunteering is a great way to support your recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. For so long, your reason to get out of bed each morning may have been to get high or get drunk. Now, you need a new purpose – and a new passion. While you likely worked past feelings of guilt and shame while in rehab, some of those regrets may tend to linger. Instead of dwelling on the selfishness you once exhibited – give back, help others, and be a little more selfless. You will find people who need you – just like you needed people to help you when you got sober. By volunteering to help others in need, you not only give back, you also start to feel self-worth again. When you feel better about your purpose, you’ll be less tempted to relapse.
Are these six strategies the only way to maintain recovery? Absolutely not. Just as addiction treatment should be unique and tailored to the individual, so should recovery. Take these suggestions, discover what works best for you, and keep an open mind to new strategies and tips that others in recovery may offer, and beware of the “get rich quick” methods. Recovery takes commitment, time, and growth. A successful sobriety is all about constantly learning, developing, and achieving a balanced and renewed life in recovery.