Let’s face it – sobriety can be difficult, both mentally and physically. But whether you’re recently sober or still working on it, you should know that it doesn’t begin and end with stopping your addiction. Building a sober life that you can enjoy without alcohol or drugs is the real goal, and it takes much longer than the simple process of quitting. The real challenge isn’t quitting alcohol or drugs, it’s maintaining your sobriety over the long term. While that may seem daunting, especially if you’ve already been tempted, you can do it with the right plan and the right tools.
1) Building a Motivational Toolkit
Motivation is a powerful tool that will help you to start building your sober life, but it is crucial that you remember not to rely on it. Why? Motivation will get you going, but when it gets hard, motivation won’t help. Ego depletion is the concept that willpower is an exhaustible resource, and understanding this can help you to stay sober. Instead, you have to build habits that will sustain your sobriety long after motivation is gone. Despite that, you should still use motivation to spur you on for as long as possible.
You can start by creating a simple list. On one half of a page write down all of the things that you lost because of alcohol. On the other side, write down everything that you can gain from staying away from it. Think about your family, your friends, your job, any educational or work opportunities, or something you’ve been dreaming about. What can you use to motivate yourself to stay sober? Writing these motivations down, and remembering them when you’re tempted, can help.
You can also find a role model, find inspirational sayings, or find books that will help to motivate you to stay sober. Clean by Amy Reed, The Heroin Diaries by Nikki Sixx, Alive Again by Howard Samuels, Double Double by Martha and Ken Grimes, and Adding Fire to the Fuel by Scott Stevens are all acclaimed books that you can start with.
2) Group Help
You might think you are alone, but you don’t have to be. We are all familiar with 12 step programs like AA or NA, and there are variations for almost any drug you can think of. These groups have a lot to offer and you should really give them a chance if you have not already, as they are highly effective for many people.
Even if you don’t like any group therapies that you have tried, there are plenty of options for you to look into. Now with the dominance of online technologies you can find online recovery meetings, social media groups devoted to recovery, and a variety of additional possibilities for interacting with other sober people.
There are millions of people in the United States affected by drug or alcohol addiction, and talking to even one of them can help you to understand and to be at peace with your own addiction. It will also give you accountability, because you will have to report to someone every week, and that can be a powerful motivator.
3) Family and Friends
Your family and friends may be more or less helpful depending on your situation, but if you are able, reaching out to talk to the ones you love can be very helpful. While it is not always a solution, helping your family to understand your addiction so that they can help you and work with you to keep you sober can be immensely helpful, because your family members will be able to offer support that no one else can. Similarly, you should talk with your friends, to ensure that they understand your problems and can help or that at the least, they will not invite you to break your sobriety.
4) Finding an Outlet
Most of the time we turn to alcohol or drugs as an escape. Whether this is your case or not, you have to admit that you have problems that may or may not have been addressed when you got sober. For many of us, those problems are simply stress, a poor family relationship, or even discontent. It is important that you take the steps to make your life better, so that you don’t fall into the same trap of seeking an escape or looking to alcohol again.
Physical exercise is a great option because it releases endorphins in your brain that will help you to feel better. But don’t feel like you have to spend hours at the gym or go running. There are plenty of fun exercises like rock climbing, yoga, dancing, parkour, kickboxing, and much more that you can try. The key is to find an activity you actually enjoy.
5) The Right Plan
Everyone has a plan, and no matter what yours is, it is important that you take the steps to make it realistic and achievable. The first step to doing so is to create goals based on achievement and not time. Studies show that if you work towards one big goal, you will lose motivation if you fail even once. For example, if part of your goal is to work out every day, you will likely fail very quickly, and then it will be easy to rationalize not going at all after you’ve failed. Instead, make goals to work out for a certain number of hours per week, so that if you miss a day, it’s easy to make up for it or fit it into another day without hurting your motivation.
A great strategy balances short and long-term motivation, so that you can always see a goal that you can complete, but you have a long term goal in mind to keep you motivated. For example, your first goal may be to stay sober for a year, but you can break that down into indo days and weeks, and offer yourself the reward of having achieved it when you reach it.
- Accomplish anything difficult in the morning, when you have more motivation
- Create rewards for yourself, such as your favorite meal or buying something you like
- If you have a problem with stress at work, start meditation, yoga, or Tai Chi
- Consider picking up a mindfulness practice, apps like Headspace are a great place to start
Staying sober is a goal that you can achieve, and if you plan and make room for yourself, understand that you will be tempted and you will have problems along the way, you can look back and be proud of yourself after a year. Staying sober isn’t easy, but it is achievable and you can do it.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction to any substance, please contact Lighthouse Treatment Center today for help. One of our experienced treatment advisors will be happy to provide a no-cost, no-obligation consultation. Contact us today.