Getting a firm grasp a drug, alcohol or any addiction is only half the battle. Now it's time for the real fight to begin, which is much more than abstaining from your old and clearly destructive habits. It's also about discovering how your newly found sobriety fits into your previous life or even forging a new path to ensure you stay on the straight and narrow. With a little effort, a realization that you cannot do it alone and new commit to a healthy lifestyle, it's possible to create a new and sober "normal" life.
Work with an addiction specialist or therapist to create a lifelong sober strategy. Start out small by simply determining where you'll stay after you leave the treatment facility or rehab center. If possible, remain in transitional living environment until you're mentally, emotionally and physically able to care for yourself. Otherwise, stay with a trusted friend or family member that understands your struggle. Creating goals for yourself, such as finding an apartment and job or simply rediscovering an old passion or reconnecting with family is the best way to stay on the path to recovery.
One of the most crucial elements of any former addict's recovery plan is to continue with therapy, no matter if it's professional one-on-one sessions or joining a support group. Remember that no issue is too large or small, to discuss or bring to a trusted professional or spiritual advisor. Don't fall into the trap of believing you've conquered your addiction and no longer require outside assistance. Temptation to fall back into your old ways is omnipresent and sometimes it only takes one bad day to topple months and years of success. This is truly why a support system is critical, because these are the people that will help you get back on your feet after you stumble.
Creating healthy distractions is key to remaining clean and sober. If your addiction caused you to abandon your love of golf, painting or even playing the bassoon, rediscover your passion for these activities to provide you with a healthy outlet. Consider pursuing a new hobby that involves introducing yourself into social situations, such as volunteering at a local animal shelter or starting a bible study through your local church group. Creating a new as well as sober circle of friends provides you with an unmatched sense of fulfillment and community.
Realizing your external, internal and sensory addiction "triggers" is a crucial step in your addiction recovery process. Staying away from bars, friend's homes and other old haunts is easier while in the protective cocoon of rehab, but what happens when you're faced with temptations and your mentor, sponsor or therapist isn't there?
In order to save yourself, it's sometimes critical to give up old friends and places that trigger your addiction. You might have made friends simply because of your shared abuse of drugs and alcohol, and these same people might still be in the grips of their own addiction. Stepping away from these people, and your favorite restaurant, bar or even steering clear of certain social events, is an unfortunate, albeit critical, necessity. It's never simple to cut people out of your life, but it's a necessary evil to ensure you remain sober.
To keep your body working on all cylinders, it's crucial to live a balanced and healthy lifestyle. This is as simple as eating healthy, getting plenty of exercise and keeping up your physical appearance. For others, it’s more complicated and may mean avoiding supplementing your old drug of choice with a new, seemingly-safer alternative. Many former addicts fall into the trap of smoking or overeating as a way to cope with their new sober lifestyle. If you find yourself falling into a different addiction, namely gambling, food or nicotine, speak to your counselor or therapist to help get you back on track.
Overcoming addiction is a lifelong process and one that's made more successful when a plan is implemented, and followed. Knowing where you're heading and having a firm grasp on your life and addiction makes getting through the days, weeks and months ahead of you less stressful and more hopeful.
Jillian Thompson is a full time mother and Advisor for DrugRehab.org. She is passionate about helping people successfully complete their rehab programs and going on to lead fulfilling, sober lives.