Getting sober is no easy task. While getting sober can undoubtedly be done, it requires hard work and dedication to achieve. While there are many ways to get sober, certain things are necessary to build a solid foundation for living a life of recovery. Some of these things may seem obvious, while others may come as a surprise, but all of them together help enable a person to make the right choices that will, in turn, lead to a healthier and more productive life.
As someone who has gone through the addiction recovery process, I can say from personal experience that several things have helped me to maintain my sobriety over the years. Each of these things on its own may seem simple, but when they are all put together, the potential for success is limitless. When it came to my recovery process, here are the things that I found to be the most helpful.
Learning to be comfortable in my skin.
Addiction can lead to a lot of internal turmoil on several levels. This difficulty is because substance abuse impacts a person on a physical, mental, and emotional level. Because of this, it takes time to learn how to function without using drugs and alcohol. I often found that one of my main reasons for drinking was because I would feel so uncomfortable while I was sober. Many times substance abuse is used as a means to self-medicate certain feelings and emotions. This form of “self-medication” usually doesn’t end well and often makes the problem a whole lot worse.
One of the most important things that a person can do to help maintain their sobriety is to learn how to be comfortable in their skin without drugs and alcohol. Once a person does this, they will no longer feel the constant need to escape. Of course, a person must do many things to maintain success, but this is perhaps one of the most important things that a person can work on early in their recovery.
Learning to confront life’s problems.
A person struggling with addiction will often use drugs and alcohol to run away from their problems. While logically, we all know that this does nothing to solve the problem, the temporary relief often provides enough comfort for a person to continue this destructive habit. The vital thing to note is that any relief felt by drugs or alcohol is only temporary, and once the drugs wear off, the problem will return. Then things will often begin to feel even worse. This is why a person needs to learn how to confront their issues to deal with them healthily. The only way to truly work through a problem is to face it in the first place. Building up the ability to confront life’s issues provides the necessary first step to solving them.
Detoxing and healing the body and mind.
Drugs and alcohol by themselves do extensive damage to a person’s body. But in addition, drug and alcohol use can often lead to vitamin and nutritional deficiencies, which makes physical health much worse. These adverse health effects are well documented by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Because of this, the body must be given a chance to detox from drugs and restore nutritional balance. Restoration may take some time but giving the body a chance to heal from the damage done during active addiction is necessary for continued health and well-being.
Learning to live in the present moment.
Addiction often causes a person to dwell on the past and worry about the future. It is hard to live in the moment when you are bombarded with the heartache of alcoholism. However, one of the best things a person can learn is to live in the present moment and be fully aware and present in the time and place they are at. This may seem easy, but it often takes work to make this mindset come naturally. Old habits die hard, but with consistent effort, new ones can take their place.
Analyzing the people and influences in life.
Often, a person who has an addiction has people in their life that negatively influence their overall well-being. Therefore, it is necessary for a person to remain sober, they must learn how to analyze the people they allow into their lives. It is difficult for a person to maintain a positive outlook when constantly under the influence of someone who only has negative comments and opinions. Negative people will create negative outlooks; someone trying to better their life will be better off if they don’t surround themselves with people trying to drag them down.
Learning how to disconnect from negative people will go a long way towards mental and emotional stability. Developing the skill of setting and maintaining healthy boundaries is another essential aspect of living a life of recovery. Once a recovering addict can establish healthy boundaries with other people and themselves, they are in a much better position to work on themselves and begin the healing process.
Rebuilding and maintaining personal integrity.
Addiction will often cause a person to say and do things that they typically wouldn’t while under the influence of drugs or pursuing the next fix. When a person is addicted to a substance, it is difficult to consider other people’s feelings. This is one of the many reasons addiction is so harmful not only to the addict but to their entire family. The ramifications of one person’s addiction are far-reaching, much more so than most people realize. Personal integrity is maintained by not doing harm to others and keeping up good relationships.
Redeveloping a sense of ethics and morals.
People in recovery must take responsibility for their past mistakes. When people can fully take responsibility for their past errors, they can genuinely learn from them and move on. If someone wants to stay sober, they must restore a high level of personal integrity in themselves. Doing the right thing must become non-negotiable to someone in recovery. When a person does things that go against what is right, they slide down a slippery slope. The more misdeeds committed, the more likely a person becomes to relapse due to shame and guilt. If a person wants to make the lifestyle shift necessary to achieve a life of recovery, they must develop a strong sense of personal integrity.
Developing practical life skills.
Last but not least, someone who wants to get sober will need to develop new life skills that will help them stay sober and thrive. The better a person is doing in life, the less likely they will want to mess things up. Learning new life skills to help with the ups and downs of life will enable a person to make wise decisions about their lives. I like to think of these life skills as a tool belt needed to build a new life. Sure, you can create something without tools, but it is much more challenging than if you have the right tools for the job.
While these things all scratch the surface of what is needed to live a life of long-term sobriety, they certainly are an essential aspect of building a solid foundation for recovery.