Once you stop using substances, the journey to recovery doesn't stop. For some, this journey is more challenging than for others. It is important to remember that each individual's path to recovery will be different. There are several things that can help make the transition back to your life after choosing to get sober go more smoothly. Here are some suggestions for a smoother journey:
1. Creating a plan and sticking to it is a good first step. Think about what is important to you and what makes you feel good about yourself. This may include a day-to-day regimen of sleep, eating, exercise, social support, and other activities. The more structured and prepared you are, the better and easier it is. Following through with your plan can also result in more positive feelings about yourself.
2. Learn your new normal. Things will be different when you quit using substances. You will not only feel differently, but you will also think and act in different ways. Be patient with yourself while learning how everything fits in your life now. Your new normal will likely not include certain friends or past acquaintances, activities, and places. Cutting out people, places, and situations that might trigger you or that are not healthy for you will increase your chances of moving forward as opposed to backwards in your journey to optimal health.
3. Cut yourself some slack! Be patient with yourself and understand that your recovery might not go in a straight line uphill. In other words, there will likely be bumps in the road. Let that be OK. Make a conscious effort to learn from each obstacle you encounter. If you have expectations that everything is going to be different and maybe even perfect now that you are sober, then you're setting yourself up for disappointment. Recovery is a journey and will not be perfect for anyone. Don't give yourself permission to fail because of this, and instead use this as motivation to keep moving forward in your life. Coping skills are also helpful during this time.
4. Express gratitude daily! Each day, write down at least one thing you are grateful for. Gratitude is a great way to keep focus on the positive. Shift your thinking and allow yourself to appreciate what you do have including your new sober life - and let it be known!
Dr. Rachel Needle has specialized training in the area of substance abuse. She is a professional consultant to substance abuse facilities and assists them in expanding and enhancing clinical programming. Dr. Needle also does expert training in the topic of substance abuse, mental illness, and sexual health for staff members at residential and outpatient facilities that specialize in alcohol and substance abuse.
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