Katie had been sober for 6 months. She was feeling healthy and confident, believing that her days of alcohol and drug abuse were far behind her. She had gone back to school to finish her bachelor degree, she got a new job in a field related to her desired major, and had rekindled her relationships with family and friends. Katie wasn’t worried about relapsing; she had way too much going for her to consider it.
The better her life became, the more confident she felt. She started slacking on going to meetings, began to hang out at places where alcohol was around, and started to wonder if maybe she had just started drinking heavily because she had been depressed. Soon enough, Katie started to drink again. She started out slowly, but within months, she had lost her job, dropped out of school, and had embarrassed herself at several family functions. When she decided to check in to rehab once again, she kept thinking, “How did this happen?”
Katie is not alone. Unfortunately, her story is all too common. Many times we think that once we get our lives together, we no longer have a serious disease that needs to constantly be kept in check. We begin thinking that our reasons for drinking were due to immaturity, being around the wrong people, our depression, or getting out of a bad relationship. We start hypothesizing that this time, now that we have our lives together, we can drink like normal people.
What we must always remember is that we are not like “normal” drinkers, or even drug users who experimented at one point in life, but now have moved on. We have a mind that does not know how to put up a stop sign once we’ve gone too far. So how can we not end up like Katie? How can we maintain our sobriety, but still live a fun, meaningful, and peace-filled life? Here are 4 tips to help you stay on track.
Tip #1: Never stop going to meetings. The biggest mistake that recovering addicts and alcoholics make is that they often slowly drift away from meetings once they get some time under their belts. The more confident we feel in our sobriety, and the better our lives become as a result of our new lifestyle, the easier it is to give up on meetings
A prominent recovery site explains that, “the gazelle that is eaten is the one outside the herd, or at the edge of the herd, not the one in the middle of the herd.” In other words, if we isolate by not going to meetings and helping others, we can get lured back in to our old lifestyle. The best thing to do is to stay in the herd of people who are like you.
Tip #2: Develop a firm relationship with a higher power. When we begin to think that we alone are responsible for our own success in sobriety, the trouble begins. We must always remember that we are in fact the problem to begin with! It is through a higher power, and a higher power alone, that we have been blessed with recovery. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get any credit at all. You chose to get sober; you knew that your life wasn’t working for you. But the higher power helped you maintain that sobriety, because you began to realize that alone, you could not succeed. You had tried over and over again before to get sober, but it was only within the halls of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous that you found true, lasting recovery.
This concept can be difficult for those who are agnostic or atheist. The Big Book has an entire chapter on how the agnostic can approach finding a higher power in the chapter, “We Agnostics.” All that is needed is an understanding that you alone are not in control of the universe. There is no religious litmus test to be a recovering alcoholic; it just means that you must understand there is a power greater than yourself.
Tip #3: Find fun in sobriety. One of the biggest misconceptions that people have about sober individuals is that they are boring. Many newly sober people fearfully wonder how they can ever have fun in sobriety and socialize again. It’s important to remember that many, many people who are not alcohols or addicts do not drink at all, or drink very little, and have fun, meaningful lives. Alcohol is a very, very small part of what can be considered “fun” in life. There are so many new hobbies to try, things to do, places to travel, foods to eat, and relationships to make. There are so many jobs you can take, so many clubs to join. The world is your oyster; but it’s up to you to take advantage of it.
Many newly sober people do not deal with the underlying issues underneath and begins to isolate in sobriety. They are frightened to hang out with other people without the “safe” drink in their hand or drug in their body. They start to hate sobriety, because the way that they are living is in fact, miserable. This can cause one to romanticize their old drinking life and start creeping back towards it. Don’t let this happen to you. Get involved in the community and figure out what it is that you truly enjoy.
Tip #4: Remain grateful and stay positive. Many of us become bitter early on in sobriety. We are angry that we can’t drink and do drugs like we used to, and we feel left out of a culture that embraces some of these things. We have no idea how to live a sober life and feel overwhelmed about maintaining sobriety forever. This is a negative approach to maintaining sobriety, and may cause one to relapse.
Writing a daily gratitude list can be a healthy reminder to us of what we have in life. Some of us have a lot to be grateful for and others may live in a bad situation. Regardless, as long as we have our sobriety, and a belief in a higher power, one bad day does not have to equate a bad week, or a bad month, or a bad year. Repeat the mantra over and over in your head: “This too shall pass.” There is nothing that we can’t handle in sobriety, but we cannot handle anything in the midst of alcoholism or drug addiction.
Are you or someone you know struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol? Contact Linda Rose at 949-558-4723 and speak to one of our certified treatment counselors. Start planning your road map to recovery today.