If you are going to beat the scourge of addiction, you need to enlist the full power and help of your mind, body, and spirit.
Taking your own recovery path can be daunting, but with a guide like this one, all you need to do is think one day at a time.
Group and professional guidance can help people recover from addiction; however, recovery is possible if you put your heart into making progress. Some crucial steps are:
- Make different social choices
- Create or join a community
- Maintain honesty with yourself and your circle
- Practice self-care
- Help other addicts
It is routinely suggested that steps programs, alongside the encouragement and accountability of other addicts, are the best way to work on addiction recovery. However, some people cannot fully give themselves to these programs and want to recover from addiction independently. If this is you, read on to our guide to help you realize the full potential of your mind, body, and spirit so that you can break the chains of addiction.
Common Ways People Get Sober
Whether it is substance abuse or behavioral addiction abuse, recovery requires similar steps that can be done on your own. Creating a recovery plan is all about finding the courage it takes to distance yourself from the addiction and as many of the associations to the addiction as possible.
The most common ways people achieve sobriety are through residential in-patient programs, outpatient therapy programs, twelve-step programs, and recovery communities, or a mixture of some or all of these.
Professional addiction rehabilitation programs, such as the Steps Recovery Centers, have a list of different care stages that a patient can follow to battle addiction. These steps can be taken either as someone checked into their in-patient residential care facility or as an out-patient. Regardless of the method you use to become sober, you need to take steps to distance yourself from the addiction itself and the life it has created around you.
Some find distancing themselves from addiction and getting sober on their own more difficult, which is why in-patient treatment is popular early in recovery. Those in the early stages of detox, recovery, and sobriety often face difficult physical and mental struggles. These can include the following:
- heart problems
- breathing problems
- vision trouble
- liver and kidney damage
- increased risk for certain cancers
- decreased ability to think clearly
- worsening of mental illnesses
In-patient therapy and residential living with counseling may be appropriate if you are facing severe difficulty getting sober. However, if you plan to work a twelve-step program or an out-patient program and do most of the work on your own, tools like this guide can be helpful. Remember, there is no one path when it comes to getting sober.
How to Make Different Social Choices Around Your Addiction
If you cannot see yourself changing your friends and social circles that have been a part of your addiction, you need to seek help or guidance. Many experts, including Dr. Steven Melesis, a well-known addiction recovery expert and author of the article in the Yale Biomedical Journal titled “Relapse Prevention and the Five Rules of Addiction,” states that the first stage of recovery is The Abstinence Stage.
The Abstinence Stage is characterized by the need to distance yourself from the drugs or behaviors of the addiction and any friends that are still using. This stage can last anywhere from one to two years. It has many risks involved, including intense cravings, poor self-care, and new addictions coming to the forefront.
To make different social choices around your addiction, you need to examine the social circles surrounding you. The chances are that the friends, locations, and even recreations that you visit and take part in are in some way triggering your addiction.
You can do several things right now on your own to make different social choices around your addiction; this will greatly enhance your ability to get sober and continue in your recovery.
The idea that your environment affects you physically and mentally is nothing new. There have been many studies showing the correlation between healthy environments, friends, and activities, and the strength of mental and physical health.
In the recovery community, staying away from your community of addiction and replacing this community with new friends, places, and social interactions is known as social detox. The support of healthy people and places around you is an important factor early on in recovery. Some may need intervention to recognize and change these social systems of their addiction before they find healthy alternatives.
Listed below are a few of the ways to work on your social detox on your own. If you find yourself having trouble with social detox, find support and help from professionals in this critical time. This vital step of recovery is one of the first and most powerful actions you can take early on in your addiction recovery.
Hang Out in New Places
The power of where you spend your time can be profound. Examining your “haunts” will help you understand the environment that you are surrounding yourself with and whether it is a healthy or unhealthy place to be for recovery.
Numerous academic studies show the relationship between personality and geography or social environment. Physical and social aspects of the places where we decide to spend our time can influence who we are and how we act.
Some studies found that things like population density, size, and type of green spaces, types, and amount of non-domestic buildings, all influenced the personalities of those living around them.
If there are places where you hang out that stress you, trigger you, or are considered “high-risk,” in general, you may want to seek out different places to spend your time. To accurately identify these places, it may be helpful to use the addiction recovery acronym H.A.L.T.: “Hungry. Angry. Lonely. Tired”. This can be a powerful tool to help you identify your physical reactions and emotions when you find yourself in unhealthy environments.
Reevaluating the places where you spend your time will give you a greater feeling of control over your recovery and limit the number of triggers that you may come upon day-to-day. As an added benefit, new places tend to lead to new relationships with people, which is the next important step that you can take in your recovery journey.
Find New Friends Who Are Not Using
To those on the outside looking in at the world of addiction, it seems evident that an addict would want to limit their interaction with people who are abusing substances and engaging in behaviors that are the source of their addiction. However, many addicts tend to glamorize the past, categorizing it as “fun,” “better,” or “free.”
This temporary phase of recovery can be described as “redefining fun” and is integral to early recovery. Finding new friends with similar healthy interests can be a great way to begin this process of redefining what fun means to you.
Although there are many reasons why healthy friendships are beneficial for your recovery, some are more important than others. The most crucial reason for healthy friendships during recovery from addiction includes encouraging fun without addictive acting out and supporting you in times of stress. Below is a list of things that you can do to find and keep healthy relationships outside of your addiction social circle:
- Look for quality, not quantity: Having a lot of mediocre or borderline triggering friends is in no way better than a few strong, healthy friendships. Having too many friendships in recovery can spread you thin, make you lose connection, and even trigger a relapse. Look for a few quality relationships and keep them strong.
- Expect some friendships to be short-lived: Creating and outgrowing friendships is a part of life. If you are more open to this possibility, it begins to become natural for you to branch out and find the sorts of people who can maintain lasting relationships. Do not be afraid of short-lived friendships.
- Engage in the community: Friendships are often formed in the safety and security of communities with similar interests. Walls and barriers can be overcome, and guards can be brought down in a community of like-minded people. It is beneficial to engage and commit to a community of people with similar likes or ways of thinking. You will be better able to find out what people are like and how they will match up with you as potential friends.
- Stay persistent: No one likes to be ignored, so make sure that you follow up on these new relationships that you start. Remember the small things that you may have talked about and bring them up again in a text or phone conversation. Make little coffee dates or take walks with dogs; though these are small steps, they help to keep the friendship growing.
Create or Join a Community
When addicts are together, they can feed off each other and create justifications for their addictive behavior. Finding quality relationships with healthy boundaries should be a priority early in your recovery. The best way to do that is to join with like-minded people in a healthy community.
If necessary, you may need to create a new community of like-minded and healthy individuals with which to develop strong bonds for your recovery. However, one of the best ways to join a community is to find existing groups of people and follow some steps to make yourself present and available for the kinds of healing relationships those in recovery need.
Be Open-Minded and Willing
You should push yourself to have an open heart and firm resolve when attempting to join a new community. Since we are beings who crave interaction and connection, this can be an especially trying time in your recovery process. Here are a few tips on how to remain open-minded and willing to find a new community:
- Show up: Brene Brown says in her book, Daring Greatly, that “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” If you simply show up, you have already shown the courage to those in your new community to notice and engage with you.
- Be yourself: It may sound cheesy, but the best way to live in recovery is to be yourself. Honesty with others starts with honesty within yourself. By practicing the art of being yourself with a new community, you can strengthen your ability to interact honestly. Also, people tend to engage better with people they perceive as genuine.
- Get over the intimidation: Initially, joining a new community is intimidating, which is expected. Things will be less stressful if your resolve and will to understand others and be open with them and yourself is strong.
As you begin to find a healthy community and gain a feeling of connection, you can begin to settle in. Settling into a community takes time and strength of will. A few tips can help make the process of settling in less scary and generate stronger connections with your new community.
- Be a regular: It cannot be overstated the kind of fulfillment being treated like an ordinary person can bring. Being a regular comes with several perks. To be seen as a regular, try saying hello to those you meet as you feel comfortable, talk often with other regulars, and consistently show up. Becoming a regular can greatly increase your positive interactions within your new community.
- Find common interests: Common interests have a way of bonding people. There are many ways to find the common interests of others in your community. If good-old-fashioned conversation seems a bit too intimidating, there are apps like Meetup that can help to facilitate like-minded connections.
- Get passionate: Every group has a cause that they champion. Educating yourself and becoming informed on a group cause can strengthen your connection to your new community. Familiarize yourself with current events and follow the social media posts of community members. As you start to engage in conversations about shared passions, you will naturally begin to join in fulfilling conversations, actions, and events together.
Maintain Honesty with Yourself and Your Social Community
Honesty is the cornerstone of recovery and sobriety. If you are unable to be honest about your place in recovery, it will be challenging for you to maintain sobriety. Staying honest with yourself and with the people who make up your community and social circles can help maintain your sobriety and recovery.
Most twelve-step recovery programs for addiction stem from the first twelve-step program called Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.). The guidelines of A.A., or “Big Book” as known, were written by one of the founding members named Bill W., who once said about honesty:
“Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.”
How to Identify and Change Negative Reactions
Adverse reactions to stressful situations and events are the core reasons people use addictive substances and behaviors to escape reality. Once a person becomes dependent on these substances and behaviors, they are classified as an addict. To indeed be honest with yourself and change, you should first identify the adverse reactions that you exhibit.
- Identify triggers: Think about the things, people, places, or situations that cause you to become stressed-out and triggered. If you are honest with yourself, you should be able to identify these triggers and think about alternative ways to respond to them or seek out ways to eliminate them from your life.
- Combat negativity when it comes up: Understanding the neural pathways in your mind will help you identify negative ways of thinking. Negative thoughts that are caught early can be diminished by practicing breathing exercises, stating affirmations, making personal connections through phone calls, or other techniques to combat that negativity.
- Acknowledge trauma: Addicts tend to be people with traumatic life experiences. If you are unable to come to terms with the trauma you have faced, you may need to seek professional counseling with treatment centers like Steps Recovery Centers. However, if you can acknowledge the trauma of your past, journal or speak about it, and then let it go, you can significantly reduce your stress and depression.
Continued Honesty Practices
Practicing what A.A. calls “rigorous honesty” is difficult in isolation. However, some practices can be done on your own that encourage daily reflection within yourself, helping you to identify any falsehoods that could trigger your addiction before they overtake your will. Below are some of these honesty practices that can help you to maintain your moral characteristic:
- Attend twelve-step meetings: the practice of attending twelve-step meetings can have a profound effect on your honesty. Being in a room with other addicts and relying on the spirit of anonymity can allow you to “tell on your addict,” allowing you to get honest with yourself and others verbally in a safe setting.
- Keep a journal: Another safe and secure practice to “tell on your addict” is to keep a personal journal. If you have triggering thoughts, events, situations, or interactions throughout the day, writing them down honestly can help you to let them go instead of dwelling on them, which can lead to an anxiety-related relapse. If you have trouble writing, daily writing prompts for recovery can help. Here are a few of the best:
SOBER AF: A Guided Journal: Sobriety Journal for Women
This guided journal book is great for helping to identify triggers throughout the day and traumas of the past.
- Prompts and exercises to write your thoughts and emotions about triggers throughout your day and past traumatic events.
- Room for daily reflections on actions and mood.
- Can be used with inpatient or other twelve-step programs
This journal is open-ended and has space for a beginning narrative of your understanding of your addiction and plenty of space with prompts to journal your willpower’s intentions and strength.
- Inspirational quotes for each day
- Plenty of space to write
- A narrative section at the beginning that you can refer back to remained focus on your recovery
The Addiction Recovery Journal
There are many different approaches to using this journal that is thoroughly researched and written — and is one of the most robust and detailed addiction recovery journals on the market.
- Prompts build on themselves and follow steps of recovery
- Has an entire year of entries
- Inspirational quote for each day
Self-Care is so Important
Practicing self-care means purposeful care of ourselves on many different levels, including physical, mental, and emotional health. As we said at the beginning of this guide, treatment facilities for addiction recovery, such as the Steps Recovery Centers, emphasize that recovery involves the mind, body, and spirit.
Self-care is a great way to do things that can put you in a better place to continue with your recovery from addiction.
There are as many different forms of self-care as there are personalities in the world. Finding something that resonates with you is critical to success. Still, it can be challenging to follow through if you find yourself struggling with cravings, withdrawal, or depression from your addiction recovery. Here are a few steps you can take to practice self-care in your recovery program:
- Make a “NO” list: This can serve as a reminder of your triggers and could include things that you do not want to do anymore, like checking emails at night or going to places that tempt your addiction.
- Sleep times: Sleep is incredibly important for mood and energy. If you are not getting enough sleep at night, reexamine your sleep routine. Do you watch T.V. before you fall asleep? Do you frequently check your phone or social media? Are you drinking caffeine late in the day? Things that impact restful sleep should be eliminated.
- Regular Exercise: Creating a routine that involves enough physical activity can boost your immunity and release positive endorphins in your brain. Regular exercise also helps to promote restful sleep, better mood, and healthier eating habits.
- Eating well: Diet plays a massive part in our energy and mood. Make an effort to find meals that you can prepare and eat that are healthy and filling. The added satisfaction of making delicious meals is a bonus serotonin boost.
- Meditation and relaxation: Mediation is linked to positive well-being and overall happiness. There are many different forms of mediation and dozens of apps that offer guided meditation right in your own home.
Try to Help Other Addicts
Early on in your recovery, you may think that an addict helping other addicts can be like the blind leading the blind. However, there is plenty of support for the idea that addicts sharing their stories and supporting other addicts creates strong relationships and safe spaces for the full disclosure needed for recovery.
In A.A., the foundational twelve-step program of all other twelve-step programs, the twelfth step is “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”
By helping others early on in their recovery, you reinforce the steps you took in your recovery daily with all of your actions and thoughts. You are also going to have to branch out and publicly admit to others that you are an addict in order to help them, thereby strengthening your resolve in recovery.
In the end, addiction is almost impossible to control on your own. If you are honest with yourself, you will admit that your old ways have not worked, and the only way to get control over your addiction is to admit you have a problem and follow a path to do something about it. Succeeding requires a plan and a social community to support you. Good luck with your journey towards sobriety and recovery.
Reach out to Steps Recovery Center
If you or a loved one need further help in addressing recovery from addiction, there are professional, holistic rehab centers, such as the Steps Recovery Center, who can help. We have a team of counselors and medical professionals ready to help you make the necessary changes and re-enter a life of sobriety. We have locations in Salt Lake and Utah counties in Utah. Reach out to us today with any questions you may have.