Getting over a drug or alcohol use disorder is life changing. It’s more than just walking away and staying clean. It’s the process of beginning to put your life back together and taking control of who you are and what you want to be. If you’ve recently gotten clean or sober and are moving into the new year substance free, congratulations. But, you might be wondering what now? After so long spending our time with drugs or alcohol, many of us lose connection with ourselves, the things we love, and the things we want.
You might be thinking that you’re lost, you might not know what’s next, and that’s okay. The process of an addiction forces the mind to substitute the ego (your sense of self) for the addiction, which means that you put drugs or alcohol before everything you want and need. Eventually, you might not even remember what it is you want, or want anything other than the high from your substance. Now that you’re clean, you can go about rebuilding your life, and your ego, so that you can create a better, happier life for yourself.
Build Something New
You can’t go from an addiction to stepping right back into your old life and expecting everything to be the same. Substance abuse creates a series of dramatic highs and lows, where you feel on top of the world one minute and at the bottom of it the next. You must learn to balance that so you don’t get bored, frustrated, or unhappy with your real life. You also have to consider the reasons behind your initial reliance on a substance. Many of us succumb to addiction because of stress and external factors such as our environment and lifestyle. If you weren’t happy with your life before, getting clean or sober won’t fix that. While your therapist will likely have discussed this with you if you got professional help, you have to make changes to your life to create something better. Try new things, work on your problems, actively cut people out of your life when necessary, start saving money, and try to have fun.
Create a Plan
Take the time to set reasonable and achievable goals that you can work towards. Consider the areas of your life that you most want to develop and go from there. You might want a new apartment or house, you might want to go to college, you might want a new job, you might want a better relationship with your friends or parents. Take the time to identify what’s lacking or what you aren’t happy with and try to develop from there.
Chances are that you’ve spent a significant amount of time not paying attention to yourself. Take the time to find out what you like, to try new things, experience new things, and spend at least some part of each day doing something for you. Whether that something is trying a new cheese, getting a massage, taking a piano lesson, saving $5, or going parasailing is up to you.
Build A Healthy Lifestyle
You might not want to get healthy and that’s okay, but health promotes happiness. Just 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day can boost your energy for as long as 2 hours. Regular exercise will also boost the endorphins in your brain, making you happier, and therefore less likely to look for drugs or alcohol to give you the same boost. And, great nutrition plays a part in happiness and energy as well. Taking the time to eat well and to get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day will help you to stay happy and clean.
Plan Stress Release
Life is stressful and stress is one of the primary causes of addiction and one of the primary triggers for relapse. Plan to be stressed, and plan daily activities that will help you to relax and release stress. Your stress release can be anything that works for you but plan to dedicate at least 30 minutes per day. Exercise, yoga, meditation, mindfulness, playing a music instrument, reading, and even gaming are all great stress relievers that you can try.
Join a 12 Step Group
Group therapy can be intimidating before you join, but it can give you a place to talk about addiction to people who understand what you are going through. 12 step groups allow you to meet like-minded people, find people who can help you deal with cravings, can give you resources and tools to fight triggers, and will give you something to be accountable too, which can be highly motivational for staying clean or sober. In one study, persons who attended group therapy through a 12-step program were actually more likely to remain abstinent for every group session they participated in. Getting involved will help you to stay away from drugs and alcohol, so that you can continue to maintain your new lifestyle well after the year is over.
Take it Slow
Your life won’t change overnight and you can’t handle everything at once. Plan to take your time, make changes one day at a time, and to rest when you need it. Forcing yourself to do everything and to work hard every day can drive you into a relapse and you will not be happy if you are constantly forcing yourself to do better or to achieve more. Set reasonable goals for yourself and remember that regular steady progress is more important than big leaps. Getting sober is a big achievement and you can be proud of yourself. Just remember that it doesn’t stop when you walk away. If you need help, make sure you attend local group therapy meetings, talk to a therapist, and talk to your friends and family. Recovery is a long road, and you will need help to make it. Good luck and have fun on your journey to a new you. If you or a loved one may need help for drug addiction or alcoholism, please contact us at Oceanfront Recovery today to discuss detox and treatment options. One of our experienced intake advisors will speak with you at 877-296-7477 today.