People can change. It matters not how far you have fallen because of alcohol or drug addiction, it will be possible for you to start again. The whole point of recovery is to give you a second chance; however, it is up to you to make the most of it. Here are just a few ideas on how you can live a successful life following an addiction.
Get Sober and Achieve Your Dreams
One casualty of addiction is when you lose sight of your dreams and aspirations. When your life revolves around alcohol or drugs, there is not much room for anything else. One of the great things about recovery is that you now have the space to get back in touch with all of those things that were once important to you. The fact that you are sober also means that you can begin turning your dreams into reality.
There are plenty of examples of people breaking free of addiction and going on to achieve amazing things. You too can begin chasing your dreams in sobriety and turning at least some of them into a reality; a good idea is to create a ‘bucket list’ of all the things you want to do. You can achieve so much when you become sober, although it is important to have reasonable expectations and not take on too much in early recovery.
Making Friends in Recovery
Making friends in recovery can be challenging for those who are introverted, but this is one of the most rewarding aspects of recovery. Becoming better in social situations is a skill and something that you will be able to develop once you become sober. The friendships you develop when sober can be far more meaningful and rewarding than the shallow friendship of ‘drinking buddies’. There are many places to make friends and the first port of call could be somewhere like a members’ organisation such as the UK Recovery Walk Charity, where you can sign up to undertake group recovery activities.
If you are not used to making friends without the assistance of alcohol or drugs, it can feel a tad intimidating. One of the advantages of joining a recovery fellowship is it makes it easier to develop new relationships. It is also good because it means you will be making friends with individuals on a similar path to you; these individuals can then become an important resource when you need support, feedback, or advice.
Make Sobriety Your Number One Priority
If you allow anything to get in the way of your sobriety, it will put you at high risk of relapse. Making your sobriety your number one priority might sound selfish – especially if you have a family – but this is the way it has to be. The truth is that if you relapse, you are likely to lose everything anyway. Making sobriety your number one priority does not mean becoming obsessive about it – it just means you never take it for granted.
Remain Grateful for Your Recovery
A very common trait of those who have managed to achieve a lasting and enjoying life in sobriety is a sense of gratitude. It has even been suggested that as long as you remain grateful for your sobriety, it is very unlikely that you will relapse; this is because you will fight harder to maintain something you appreciate.
You know the saying ‘time heals all wounds’? Well this can be a curse for those recovering from addiction. It means soon forgetting the pain of addiction, while beginning to take the significant improvements in your life for granted. Once this happens you stop being grateful, putting yourself at higher risk for relapse.
Some people do seem to have a natural ability to remain grateful but, for most individuals, it can be a struggle. Keeping a gratitude journal is an effective tool for developing gratitude. This is where you write down – on a daily basis – all the good things that happen in your life.
Help Other People
One of the best things you can do to strengthen your recovery from addiction is to devote some time to helping others. This does not have to be anything too ambitious – just being willing to listen to other people is a type of service. In the 12-step groups, it is a common belief that you need to give it away if you want to keep it (in other words, you need to help others in order to remain sober).
Once you have developed a strong sobriety, it can really be beneficial to help others still struggling with addiction problems. You could help out at an alcohol rehab perhaps. This type of work can boost your self-esteem and is also a strong reminder of what is waiting for you if you return to alcohol or drugs. If you belong to a fellowship like Alcoholics Anonymous, you will find that there are many opportunities to engage in service; these groups depend on this type of volunteer work in order to survive.
Learn How to Handle Failure
If you stay sober, you can expect to have to face failure occasionally. It can be upsetting when things do not work out as planned, but your ability to deal with failure can determine your future happiness in sobriety. You need to understand that failure is part of the path of success – you learn from your mistakes and it is this that moves you closer to your goal. The only real failure in life is giving up.
Instead of seeing failure as a sign that the world is against you, it is better to see failure as a friend. It is telling you that you need to try a different approach. It would be far worse to continue on a path that is not taking you to your goal; you can learn as much from failure as you can from success. All the most successful people in the world have had to deal with failure at some stage in their life.
Develop Emotional Sobriety in Recovery
Physical sobriety is only really the beginning and in order to find real peace and happiness, you need to develop emotional sobriety as well. This means you have the ability to deal with life on life’s terms. Some of the signs of emotional sobriety include:
• being able to avoid extremes of mood
• feeling able to cope no matter what challenges you are faced with
• being able to live in the present and not always be caught up in thoughts about the past and future
• feeling optimistic about the future
• finding it easy to develop meaningful friendships
• being able to easily regulate your own behaviour – i.e. not being at risk of turning to maladaptive behaviours
• easily able to manage stress
• good mental as well as physical health.
It takes time to develop emotional sobriety in recovery and it is not something that can be developed overnight. The key to becoming more emotionally sober is to face each challenge in life with a willing attitude. Every time you overcome a challenge, it makes it easier to deal with that challenge next time around; eventually you are able to handle so many challenges that living becomes easy.
Enjoy Your Life in Recovery
The purpose of recovery is not to treat it as some type of obstacle course or prison sentence. You become sober so you can find happiness. There are plenty of things to take seriously in life, but it is important to never take yourself too seriously. Learn to lighten up and enjoy all the great things in recovery. Make time for fun and always be willing to try new things – one of the secrets of those who live to be more than 100 is they tend to be interested in life and willing to experiment with new ideas.
For more information on how to live a life free of addiction, contact Middlegate Alcohol Rehab London for more information.
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