Addiction causes self-destructive behavior despite harmful consequences. The brain changes chemically and physiologically when a person is addicted. The individual becomes physically dependent on the drugs or alcohol and experiences painful withdrawals when he or she stops using them. Lifestyle changes must be made for recovery when treatment ends. The brain needs time to learn how to function without drugs or alcohol controlling it. Everything associated with the person’s drug or alcohol use must change, including anything or anyone who is related to his or her substance use. Friends who used drugs or consumed alcohol with a person before treatment can unintentionally influence or trigger a relapse. When in recovery, these situations should be avoided. Attending group meetings opens opportunities to develop new sober friendships. If the person in recovery feels the urge to use drugs or take a drink, he or she can call on a sober friend who can talk them through those feelings. While in recovery, more time will be available to focus on healthy activities. Substance abuse and addiction affect mental and physical health. According to Buddy T., founding member of the Online Al-Anon Outreach Committee, “Exercise and recreational activities can reduce stress, which can be a major trigger for relapse. Exercise can also reduce boredom, another relapse trigger. Mainly, becoming physically active can restore a sense of balance in your life and therefore benefit you emotionally.” When a person is active, he or she will have less time to think about using drugs or alcohol. Staying active lessens the risk of relapse, and promotes mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Recovery is a lifelong process. Another way to cope with lifestyle changes involves keeping a journal. It allows a person to reflect on their progress and see how they managed emotions and challenges in early recovery. Developing new routines will replace old habits and helps avoid triggers. New, sober, sustainable friendships will make it easier to enjoy healthy interests and activities while living substance free. If you or a loved one suffers from addiction, get help today. Addiction is isolating, but you are not alone. Take the first step to a healthy, sober lifestyle and start your journey to recovery.
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