For many, the new year is a time to start fresh and develop healthy habits. With 2017 coming to a close and 2018 drawing near, it’s no wonder countless people are making sobriety their New Year’s resolution. After all, freeing yourself from the grips of addiction can improve nearly every aspect of your life, boosting your health, enriching your relationships and invigorating your life with a new sense of meaning and purpose.
But while the new year can be an exciting and motivating time to begin recovery, it’s important to recognize that recovery isn’t just a one-time decision. According to the American Psychological Association, making big, life-changing resolutions without planning out realistic, actionable steps to achieve them could set you up for failure. You may become easily stressed or discouraged if you find yourself straying from your intention, and eventually give up on it altogether. This might be relatively harmless when it comes to goals like going to more concerts or eating less sugar, but the stakes of addressing addiction are much higher.
Because your well-being — and maybe even your life — depend on it, staying in recovery is just as important as making the decision to stop misusing drugs or alcohol. But sticking with sobriety isn’t always easy. Here are some essential tips that can help you keep your New Year’s resolution to remain in recovery:
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1. Take It One Day at a Time
Simply deciding that you’re going to commit to sobriety once isn’t enough. If you truly want to make a lasting change in your life and abstain from substances, you have to recommit to recovery every day. Focusing on staying sober for a single day instead of an entire year (or maybe even the rest of your life) can make your goal seem less daunting, and put the reality of recovery into perspective. Sobriety isn’t a sweeping decision — it’s a daily choice.
You can’t change your past, and you can’t yet affect change in the future — the present moment is the only thing you truly have control over. Wake up every morning and reaffirm that you want to live a better, healthier life without alcohol or drugs, just for today. Before you know it, you’ll be able to look back and see the progress of all your “todays” add up.
2. Find Activities You Enjoy
If you’ve been using drugs or alcohol for a long time, it’s likely that many of your relationships and hobbies involve them. Because of this, making the choice to remain in recovery also means fundamentally changing the way you think about and spend your free time.
While the prospect of ending toxic friendships and finding new hobbies can seem unnerving, it also opens up the potential for incredible personal growth and fulfillment. Now that you’re not using drugs and alcohol, you have more time to explore untapped passions and rewarding hobbies. Ever wanted to paint? Try it. Always been curious about rock climbing? Do it! Recovery is easier when you’re replacing your former, damaging habits with healthy and fulfilling ones. Participating in these new activities can also connect you with new friends who will support your choice to recover, not jeopardize it.
3. Make Time for Yourself
The hustle and bustle of daily life can be overwhelming. Between staying on top of your duties at work, fostering friendships, and raising a family, it can feel like you don’t have any time for you. Add AA or NA meetings, support groups and therapy into the mix, and it’s easy to become stressed, exhausted and unable to appreciate any progress you’re making in your newfound recovery. When you feel discouraged, you may be tempted to turn back to old habits.
Because of this, it’s vital that you block out at least a little bit of time every day just for you. During these designated times, reflect on how you’re feeling. Take a moment to be grateful for the good things you’ve done during the day or over the past week. Meditating, journaling or practicing yoga can help calm your mind and set the stage for this renewing reflection. Whether it’s five minutes or two hours, taking time for yourself to rest and relax is enormously healing.
4. Attend Local NA or AA Meetings
The first days after you stop using drugs or alcohol are some of the hardest you’ll experience. During this trying time, having a support system of people who understand what you’re going through can make the difference between sobriety and relapse. Thousands of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings are held every day in most cities across the country. There, you’ll find resources to lean on, people who understand your struggle, inspiring stories and a method of recovery that has worked for countless men and women.
5. Enroll in a Treatment Program
While some can abstain from drugs and alcohol solely with NA or AA, professional rehabilitation is an essential part of many people’s path to recovery. Without treatment, it can be easy to fall back into old habits. In some cases, it can even be life-threatening. If you’ve been using substances for an extended period of time, you’ll likely experience symptoms of withdrawal once you make the decision to get sober. These can range from uncomfortable to deadly. Even if you’re able to overcome these symptoms safely and successfully, it can be difficult to stay committed to recovery without learning the necessary coping skills from a qualified individual.
During professional treatment at a center like The Recovery Village, you’ll undergo a full continuum of care that allows you to work through the beginning challenges of sobriety. Medical supervision during detox helps ensures you withdraw safely, while evidence-based care provides insight into the roots of your addiction. Support groups and individualized therapy can help you foster the coping skills you need to make recovery a lasting lifestyle.
Recovery can be challenging, but you don’t have to go it alone. If you’re considering starting the new year with the resolution to stop using drugs and alcohol once and for all, do it with support systems that set you up for success. With innovative therapies, healing amenities and individualized care plans, The Recovery Village can help you overcome addiction and start 2018 right. Reach out to an intake coordinator today for more information.
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