Life is a series of chances to learn from the past in order to embrace a brighter future. For many addicts, however, letting go of past mistakes and reclaiming life through recovery can be easier said than done. Unfortunately, this can be an impediment to living well after recovery.
Luckily, there are some things you can do to set yourself up for success. Read on for a roundup of ways to support both your recovery as well as your quality of life after substance abuse treatment.
1. Surround yourself with positives.
Just as positivity begets positivity, negativity begets negativity. The takeaway? The more positive influences you welcome into your life, the more likely you are to stay on a positive path.
This starts with people: The best support system will remind you of your commitment and help you prioritize the behaviors and habits that will help you stay healthy and sober. Surrounding yourself with friends and family members who aggravate your cravings by using just makes it more difficult for you to stay sober.
Places and things that can act as “triggers” are considered high risk. By avoiding putting yourself in high-risk situations whenever possible, you can minimize your risk of relapse. In cases where it’s impossible to avoid triggers, maintaining awareness of them can also be an invaluable defensive mechanism.
You also have the opportunity to be a positive influence for someone else. Whether you casually share your thoughts and feelings with another person in recovery or formally volunteer with addicts, you can inspire others—and reinforce your own reasons for recovery in the process.
2. Find new ways to manage stress and relax.
Most addicts turn to drugs and alcohol in a misguided attempt to relieve stress, relax, and reward themselves. While these coping mechanisms may work in the short term, they backfire over time.
But good news: Plenty of other healthy techniques have the same tension-relieving effects. From exercising and meditating to therapy and spending time with sober friends, recovering addicts have many options to help them feel better that don’t involve succumbing to bad habits.
3. Lead with honesty.
Lying is part of an addict’s life. The need to lie arises out of desperation and is ultimately a vicious cycle:
The more you lie, the more you have to lie.
Over time, it’s easy to lose track of what it feels like to be truthful—to loved ones as well as yourself.
Being honest also means accepting yourself and your mistakes. Everyone makes them. Owning them and doing your best to move forward despite them is both a liberating and necessary part of recovery.
Ultimately, addiction recovery leaves no room for deceit. As soon as you stop lying, addiction has no place to hide. Commit to be honest with yourself and with the people who constitute your support system to avoid starting down the slippery slope.
At the end of the day, addiction recovery isn’t just about quitting harmful habits. Rather, it’s about creating a new life after recovery in which it’s easier not to use than to use. While this is anything but easy, it’s also an exciting time during which many addicts ultimately feel grateful that they were able to reclaim their lives.
The best part? The longer you maintain abstinence, the better your odds are of continuing to live an addiction-free life, according to research published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. In fact, in cases where abstinence is maintained for five years, relapse is very rare. In other words, there’s another benefit to getting sober now and sticking with it: It gets easier over time.
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