Recovery is a rocky road. Change in any shape or form is difficult, but switching a lifestyle of alcohol and drugs to a sober and healthy one is an entirely different situation. It takes dedication and hard work along with a few other key components nevertheless successfully getting sober is anything but impossible.
5 Key Components To A Successful Recovery
1. It’s All About Honesty
This is a must. It’s very difficult to let go of the safety blanket made from lies and denial, but you are pretty much guaranteed to relapse if you try to avoid it.
At the peak of my addiction, I became dangerously comfortable with being dishonest. It was just easier to lie than face conflict. The worst part is that I began believing my own lies and excuses which led me to believe that I didn’t have a problem to begin with.
Alcohol and drug addiction, much like a mental illness are heavily stigmatized by the general public. Since addiction is a very internal disease, it is understandably difficult not to feel ashamed. I found this to be a daily struggle for years. At first, being completely candid and open with yourself can hurt, there were a lot of bad feelings and unwelcome realizations that I had to work through, issues I didn’t even know I had that contributed greatly to my addiction. This is why you need to be honest with yourself. You need to be honest about your feelings, your triggers, and the fact that you do have a disease, and you do need help. Accepting truth and reality is the first step towards getting your life back.
2. You’re Not Alone
This is probably something you have heard many times before, and I myself am guilty of tuning out this idea whenever anyone brought it up. I remember feeling very alone in my pain and suffering, feeling like nobody could possibly even begin to understand what I was going through. I can tell you from firsthand experience that you are wrong. Granted, everyone fights their own battles and two people won’t have the exact same journey in life but there are a lot of people that have experienced similar situations and can empathize. Not to mention that there are countless others who want nothing more than to help you by just by treating you with a level of compassion that is probably sorely lacking in your life.
I’m talking about therapy. Therapy comes in all shapes and sizes and there are many versions that could be better suited to you than the traditional one on one sessions with a psychiatrist. There is group therapy, art therapy, music therapy, yoga, and so on. I wasn’t a very vocal person and I hated talking about my feelings and art therapy really helped me with that. I didn’t have to speak too much, could keep my eyes to my work, release pent up energy in a creative way, and the whole set up gave me a sense of freedom. Sharing your thoughts and emotions on a healthy environment really allows you to open up and find ways to heal. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It is one of the bravest things you can ever do.
3. All Eyes On The Goal
Recovery comes first. You come first. I learned that the hard way. The first time I tried to get sober, I decided that the best way to drop old habits would be to stay so occupied that I wouldn’t have time to think about myself. I got a job and immersed myself in that, got obsessed with making sure I had plans every night with loved ones, and did everything in my power to not have one waking moment to myself. This eventually led to such a huge amount of stress and anxiety that I fell harder than I ever had before. The second time around I got it right.
Think about it, as an alcoholic or addict your whole life pretty much revolved around your next drink or your next it. It was your main focus. The only way to reverse that is to make recovery the main focus of your life. You have to create a lifestyle around your recovery and not the other way around.
This may seem like a selfish course of action but trust me, when you are healthy and well you will be able to give so much more of yourself to those you care about. What you can do for others when you are suffering and in pain is nothing compared to what you can do when you are better.
4. Give A Little
As much as you should focus on yourself in recovery, a little bit of generosity goes a long way. For most of my life, I was a very private person and a pretty gloomy one at that. Besides immediate family, party people, and people that would help fuel my addiction, I didn’t have a kind word or even a smile for most people. What I didn’t realize was how much that attitude was adding to my inner problems.
I learned one very valuable lesson in art therapy when I noticed that a person would always end their session by complimenting everybody else’s work. He would say these nice things and most people would respond with something nice in return. When I asked him why he did that, especially since a couple of us were not very good at art, he said that was his way of being generous. Giving a compliment costs you nothing and usually makes both people feel good inside.
So I began to implement that in my daily life in little ways like smiling at strangers, holding doors open, helping people with bags of groceries, just very simple little acts of kindness. Honestly, those little things truly made such a difference in my life that as I progressed further and further into recovery, I gave a little bit more. Giving a little bit of your time, a kind word, or action makes all the difference.
5. Mind, Body & Spirit
Recovery is about healing every aspect of yourself and moving forward. While getting drunk and high may have been ‘fun’ for however long it lasted, the damage lasts much longer. In recovery, all that damage needs to be reversed so that you can renew and start afresh.
Mind – get that therapy, talk, share, introspect. Get to know yourself. Alcoholism and addiction are usually connected to things like depression, anxiety, PTSD, and so on. Find an outlet that helps you release all that is built up inside, and cope with your thoughts and emotions in a healthy and functional way.
Body – Drugs and alcohol take a toll on your body. Users typically suffer from a number of health problems, but the good news is that there are many ways to treat them. Healthy eating, exercise, and proper rest go a long way.
Spirit – Sometimes, science and medicine can only go so far. Sometimes you need something more to help lift you when you’re having a tough time. Spirituality is not a set path and there are no strict rules attached to it, there are many options available in various religious communities. But religion isn’t the only answer. I, for example, found my faith in nature. When I’m feeling really down, I like to hike up to a lookout, or even sit in a park. Watching animals and plants helps me clear my head.
So remember, be honest, ask for and accept help, make recovery your priority, believe in the power of random acts of kindness, and always take care of your whole self. Recovery may be tough, but sobriety is definitely worth it.