When you are new to recovery, it’s pretty easy to be focused on recovery. Often times, if you’re in a treatment center or an outpatient program, there are activities centered around recovery for most of the day.
What happens when you leave the program? What happens when you go back to work or school? How do people develop long-term sobriety? How do I stay sober in the real world?
With some dedication and few tools, people have been able to put their lives back together and have happy and productive lives, free from drugs and alcohol for long periods of time (believe it or not, there are people who have been sober for more than 40 years – one day at a time).
Starting Your Day With Good Intentions
Starting your day with the right frame of mind and good intentions is important for long-term sobriety.
This can be as simple as a prayer or moment of pause to visualize those things that you will face throughout the day, and how you would most like to respond or take action.
If you subscribe to the idea of a Higher Power, which many in recovery do, starting your day with a prayer asking your Higher Power to be with you and help you navigate your day can help you slow down and focus on making good and solid decisions throughout the day.
Often times, people in sobriety begin their day with a meditation or reflection time based on something affecting their lives at the moment. If you are facing a particularly difficult situation, this is a good time to sit quietly and reflect. There are all kinds of daily meditation books available, most have some kind of thought provoking writing for each day of the year.
Another great practice is to work on a gratitude list or journal.
Typically, when someone is new in sobriety, they have created a lot of wreckage and have a lot of difficult issues to face. It can be easy to become overwhelmed with things that feel negative and this can be a trigger to use.
Working on a gratitude list, creating some kind of gratitude prayer or journaling about the things that you are grateful for at this moment can help you see that there are many things in life to be grateful for, even though there are some difficult things to face.
There are times that you may feel like there is nothing to be grateful for. These are the best times to stop and really think about what you can add to your gratitude list. It can be something as simple as having a good toothbrush, having a bed to sleep on, or that you are alive and sober.
When you are feeling really down or depressed about some of the realities of your life at the moment, working on a gratitude list or journal can be a life saver. People with long term sobriety will often talk about their gratitude list and that they still use this as a way of keeping them focused on the good in life.
Giving of your time and energy is another way to stay focused on living in sobriety.
Something as simple as volunteering to be a greeter at a 12-Step meeting, or working at the local homeless shelter for a few hours a week can help you stay grounded and remind you of the reasons that you want to stay sober. This can help give you a sense of meaning and purpose and keep you actively involved in your own life and in your sobriety.
Building a Sober Network
One of the best ways to stay plugged into your sobriety is to build a network of friends who are also sober.
Get phone numbers, meet for coffee, plan a game night or choose one night a week to get together and make dinner and visit.
Learning how to create and be involved in meaningful relationships is one of the gifts of sobriety. Having safe and sober friends can be a life-changing experience and bring a level of fun living that you may have never experienced before.
It’s Up To You
In the end, it’s really up to you to choose to stay sober each day, one day at a time. There are many things that you can do on a daily basis to live a mindful and joyous life free from addiction.
Creating new habits (prayer, meditation, journaling, gratitude) and practicing them on a daily basis can help you break free from behaviors that lead to using.
Setting goals for things like working on your gratitude list every morning or evening for 30 days, beginning each day with a 5-minute reading and reflection, or volunteering your time are small steps you can take to ensure that you can lay your head down at night – sober and grateful.