I thought I knew it all after I got sober. I had gone through 90 days of rehab and spent the next three months after that going to 12-step meetings at least three days per week. I was feeling pretty good about myself, so good that I didn’t see the signs that my success was going to be short-lived.
I learned the hard way that relapse actually begins long before you break down and use. I had experienced changes in my attitudes, feelings, and behaviors that ultimately lead to that final step, picking up another drink.
I felt so guilty after I drank that I called in sick at work and didn’t go to anymore meetings. I stayed at home with the curtains drawn feeling like an abject failure. And the more depressed I got, the more I simply wanted to get plastered to forget about it all.
I eventually reached out to my sponsor and learned that there were many steps I could take to succeed in my recovery:
Step One: Make some changes
I had to create new routines, habits, and hangouts. This meant I could no longer join my old friends for happy hour and expect that I would be content to drink cranberry juice. I started participating in the social activities with my support group and tried new hobbies that I was interested in. Before long, I had a whole new routine and new friends to spend my free time with.
Step Two: Create a structured schedule
I bought a calendar and started scheduling my various new activities, carefully making sure not to leave too much idle time. Not having enough constructive activities or someone sober to hang out with can lead to boredom, and boredom can lead me right back into old habits.
Step Three: Reduce stress
I learned that an exercise program can be a great way to blow off some steam and get back in shape at the same time. This led me to a renewed interest in my nutrition, and I started to look forward to shopping for and cooking healthier meals.
Step Four: Get a better job
I didn’t want to be a waitress for the rest of my life, and serving cocktails was absolute torture. So I took a job working in a yogurt shop and began studying online to become a dietitian. Now I have a career helping other addicts learn how to take better care of themselves.
Step Five: Anger management
I started drinking heavily after a sexual assault at the age of 18. The alcohol that was supposed to make me forget my pain always ended up making me feel more angry. After I got sober, I had to deal with the source of my anger in order to successfully move away from self-medicating.
Step Six: Deal with past mistakes
I had a hurt a lot of people while I was drinking. I needed to make amends and get rid of my guilt, which was another source of my anger.
Step Seven: Find balance
All recovering addicts run the risk of replacing one addiction with another, even if that new addiction is initially something healthy. I learned that I always have choices and that I have control over those choices. I am less likely to relapse if I feel in control.
After putting these steps into practice, I not only found it easier to stay sober, I wanted to stay sober. Now, every day is a gift that I can’t wait to open.
If you or someone you love is having a hard time staying clean and sober, please contact Lighthouse Treatment Center today for help. We are happy to provide a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced treatment advisors. Contact us today.