Five Factors That Help Recovering Addicts Stay Committed to Sobriety
A report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration revealed that in 2009, over 23.5 million people in the U.S alone required treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction. Despite these huge numbers, it remains more unclear how many of these people remained committed to sobriety post-treatment, and what support they received in doing so.
There are numerous factors which contribute to whether any individual person will stay committed to recovery, the most important of which are discussed below.
Create a Structured Routine
The first step towards maintaining sobriety is to create a well-structured, healthy routine. The benefits of this are twofold: firstly, it helps the person by providing structure and thus lowering their stress levels, and also it keeps them too busy to fall back into old bad habits.
A healthy daily routine may include items such as:
• Some sort of enjoyable exercise, such as walking or swimming.
• Spiritual practice – this doesn’t have to be going to church, it could be as simple as some yoga or meditation to increase mindfulness.
• Eating some delicious, nutritional food.
• Journaling or blogging about your thoughts and experiences.
Excellent Professional Support
The worst thing a recovering addict can do is to try to go it alone, especially when there is so much support out there. They should consider working with a therapist or counsellor or perhaps seeking out an aftercare program after officially leaving treatment.
These types of support work by continually reminding the patient of the coping skills that they learned in treatment, and adding new skills to help them cope with their new sober life. They also add a layer of accountability; a person is much less likely to relapse when someone is counting on them to stay sober.
Help From Friends and Family
It isn’t only professionals that can help a former drug or alcohol user to stay committed to sobriety. Friends and family can help too – though it’s necessary to state that these should be friends and family who do not participate in substance abuse themselves and are willing to support their friend in their goal of sobriety.
This support should be non-judgemental and patient, letting the former drug user know that even if they mess up, they are still loved and valued. More practically, friends and family can help out by removing any drug paraphernalia or alcohol from a recovering addict’s environment, and by recognizing and acting on the warning signs of a relapse, which include:
• Lying to loved ones, especially about what they have been doing or who they’ve been with.
• Spending less time with friends and family.
• A negative attitude towards those who are trying to help.
One of the most vital things for a recovering addict is that they find new activities that they can participate in – ones that have nothing to do with alcohol or drugs. This helps people commit to sobriety in a few different ways. It helps them to meet other sober people, therefore acting as motivation, as well as giving them a sense of happiness and well-being.
Here are a few activities that may be appealing:
• Giving something back to the community by volunteering, which has been shown to be an excellent way of increasing self-esteem and also gaining valuable professional skills.
• Learning a new sport or type of exercise.
• Learning to cook or bake healthy food.
• Doing different kinds of art or crafts – drawing your feelings can be therapeutic while something more physical like pottery can be incredibly rewarding.
Developing a Positive Attitude
Studies have shown that developing a positive, optimistic attitude can improve a person’s mental, emotional and physical health. Life will always have surprises in store, and the best thing a recovering addict can do is to make sure that they have the attitude and skills to cope with whatever happens. One thing that helps is journaling; proven to reduce anxiety, writing down your thoughts and feelings can be very helpful. Gratitude journaling, in which a person writes down what they are grateful for each day, is a specific form of journaling that may help, as it reaffirms the writer’s commitment to sobriety and also gives them something uplifting to look back on bad days.
As we have seen, there are lots of different factors in whether a person sticks with sobriety or goes back to substance abuse, the most important of which are their routine and activities, their attitude and what support they receive. It is therefore important to note that all of these factors are things that almost anyone can achieve with determination and some forward planning, meaning that it is likely that any person can commit to sobriety if the circumstances are right.
After treatment, there’s a lot that you can do to stay committed and it’s all about how bad you want it and how dedicated to your recovery you are. A California addiction treatment center can help you overcome the challenges you’ll face after you leave their expert hands.