Whether it’s day one of sobriety or year one, you will most definitely face hardship and temptation in relapsing. Becoming sober is a 100-metre dash, whereas staying sober is a marathon. It’s tiring, and the journey is long, but there’s nothing like becoming a new person and leaving old ways behind.
Find grace in the fact that one size doesn’t fit all when trying to recover. You are on a journey and even if you fail or relapse, you will learn and gain experience.
One thing many don’t prepare for is the pressures and stressors of life. Even in 2020, turning on the news and hearing about a pandemic or riots in the streets can be enough to cause your body to crave whatever comfort you were feeding it.
Here are some practical ways you can stay sober in the midst of pressure and stress.
Replay relapse in your head
The next time you feel the need for a drink or something to that’ll make you high, allow your mind to entertain the consequences after giving in. Think about the sober streak you’ll be breaking. Imagine how you’re feeling after waking up the next day from relapse. What emotions are you experiencing? Who do you need to call and confess to? How does that make you feel?
Sometimes it can be helpful to allow yourself to think through a what-if scenario. It causes you to evaluate the consequences upfront rather than dealing with them after losing your streak. The next time you feel an urge to relapse, think about what would happen afterwards if you were to give in.
Remember why you quit and remember the benefits
As you reflect on a possible relapse, consider why you sought help for addiction in the first place. Think about the family members you did it for. Remember the prisoner you were to that drug. Think of all the benefits you’re gaining. You’re getting your life and health back! You are avoiding lung cancer from smoking as well as avoiding neuropathy treatment from alcohol abuse.
Turn off the media
You may have noticed anxiety sneaking up on you, but do you know where its coming from? There have been studies on stress related to media including social media, television, the news, and other media outlets. The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed think about what caused it or is currently causing it. Turn off the news channel projecting fear and clear your head. Relax by going for a walk or doing something to calm yourself down. This is an important step for identifying triggers.
Plan your days
Planning your life is a great way to avoid relapse. You can schedule work, gym time, relaxation time, and anything else you so desire. The point is to have a schedule that you stick to so there’s no empty slot for addiction to sneak in on. In relation to pressure, it’s especially important to schedule your life. Addiction happens to take up a lot of a person’s time, so you’ll notice a lot of free time while you’re in recovery. Planning your activities hour by hour, getting a job, and planning to join help groups are all great ways to keep your mind distracted. This closes off the opportunity for addiction to strike while you’re bored.
Change up your lifestyle
Now that you’re sober, you’re technically a new you. In addition to quitting drug or alcohol abuse, consider changing up your diet or getting a new wardrobe. These small but significant changes will impact your ability to cope with pressure. As you change other parts of your lifestyle your body will adapt and reduce desires to relapse. These changes help you adapt to new stressors because you’re stressing out other areas of your life (which seem counter-intuitive) but it actually can help you when you change multiple things.
In addition to lifestyle changes, consider picking up new hobbies! Workout and exercise to keep your body engaged in other things. If you’ve always been interested in cooking, try a cooking class. If you’ve always wanted to learn piano, put all your energy towards mastering it! Hobbies are great for keeping you busy from the noise, doom, and gloom of our world.
Continue seeking help
While in recovery it’s important that you still seek addiction support. It can be AA, encouragement from a small group, accountability partners, etc. These are people who will continue to speak into your life and encourage you in your journey. They are resources when you’re feeling tempted or feeling stressed out. They want you to be successful and are there for anything you need. You just have to make sure you’re seeking out their council and reaching out when you need help. Reaching out after a relapse defeats the purpose, so don’t lie to yourself about not needing support. Find a drug rehab centre or addiction centre today, if you don’t have support. Treatment does in fact work.
You can do it
No matter how rough life gets, remember these ways to stay sober. The pressures of life will always be problematic and daunting but keep your cool and know that you’re not alone in this journey. There really is freedom, and there is a light at the end of this tunnel. Hard work will pay off and you will regain lost time, relationships, and money after overcoming addiction.
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Isaiah Ram has overcome personal addiction and helps others with addiction at Good Landing Recovery. Isaiah and his wife are involved in ministry, write music together, and also work with Lessons in Your Home.