Getting and Staying Sober This Year
Since the days of the ancient Babylonians, people have been progressing into the New Year with resolve to be better and do better, often with the attitude that this year will be the year. Unfortunately, many people transition into the New Year with hope and motivation, but that is where it ends. People hope to get fit and gym memberships spike, but only about 15 percent of the people who sign up actually pursue their goal. Only those who are proactive about making their resolutions a reality have a genuine chance at experiencing positive results.
The same can happen with addiction recovery. You may no longer want to be a slave to substance abuse, but without the right motivation and resources, you may find yourself back where you are now. If your goal is for this year to be your year of sobriety, equip yourself with knowledge and support so you can push through when your resolution high begins to dwindle.
Run With It
Declarations like New Year’s resolutions are typically formulated from an indwelling understanding that change needs to be made, sometimes out of fear of what may happen if change does not take place. If you know the pain of addiction, you probably understand what it feels like to want to change, knowing that if you continue down your current path, irrevocable damage may be done. When the desire to change knocks at your door, do not put it off or ignore it. Once you begin thinking that you are ready to overcome substance abuse, it is best to be proactive and seek help right away. There is no time like the present.
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You Deserve Another Chance
While the beginning of a new year gives you the opportunity to start over with a fresh slate, there’s no reason you can’t start on the path to sobriety at the end of Winter of the beginning of Spring. Even if you tried to get sober in January, there is still a chance for a do-over. Never let past attempts get in the way of future successes.
According to one study, individuals experience a change in addictive behaviors through the progression of five different stages, including pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance. Some people may go through these stages several times before addiction ends. Regardless of how many times you have been through these cycles before, you will always deserve another chance.
Create a Daily Schedule
Lists are helpful in recovery. Making yourself a list of things to do, and when, helps to keep you on track. During early recovery, you may need to schedule the majority of your day around recovery-related activities such as going to the doctor or therapy appointments, taking medication, attending meetings and exercising. Also include times that you plan to wake up and go to bed every day, eat, work and spend time with family and friends. Include blocks of time for reading, hobbies, and meditation or prayer as well. By creating a schedule (and sticking to it), you will less likely find yourself with free time to let your thoughts wander back to making choices to use again.
Set aside time to think about and plan for your recovery. Block out a few minutes each day, setting aside everything else during that time to focus on your goals. Your goals can range from short-term goals like getting sober to long-term goals like getting or finishing a degree. Include goals you would like to achieve in the short term, like staying sober one day at a time, to longer-term milestones, like maintaining your sobriety for the next 30 and 60 days. You can extend your list of goals as far into the future as you wish, but keep the long-term goals somewhat vague to begin with—they will fill in as time progresses.
When it comes to short-term goals, be specific with them, breaking them down into bite-sized pieces. Do not just write down, “I want to recover from my addiction.” Start with something like, “I want to stop drinking, so I will throw out all of the alcohol in my house.” Your next goal can be, “I will tell someone I am trying to change,” then, “Start looking for recovery centers.”
When writing goals regarding your recovery, consider any progress you have made and the changes you need to make to achieve your goals.
Because proper treatment is essential to addiction and substance abuse recovery, the type of addiction treatment center you choose will depend on the severity of your addiction and your personal needs.
People with severe or complicated addictions may require additional medical intervention and will do best in an inpatient program. By enrolling in an inpatient program, you can be monitored 24/7 during your body’s substance detoxification period.
If your addiction is less severe and you do not need 24/7 monitoring while your body detoxes, you would likely be better suited in an outpatient treatment program. It would be wise to consult with a doctor to help determine the level of severity.
If you are already enrolled in a treatment program or have completed an inpatient or outpatient program, you may consider joining a recovery support group to help encourage you along during your ongoing recovery process.
Involving Your Loved Ones
Along with pursuing substance abuse treatment and accountability through programs, consider involving your loved ones in your resolution. Ask them to help you with your goal to make this year a sober one. They can help to structure your home environment during the days of early recovery and keep you accountable. Chances are, your schedule will change with appointments and meetings that pertain to your treatment program. Your loved one can help you to create a routine and schedule that works for your recovery.
Since 2004, Lori has worked with the behavioral health treatment community to bring awareness about mental health disorders and evidence-based treatments. Lori strives to help people better understand mental illness and provide support to those needing help and their families. As a mental health advocate, Lori works to be a voice for those suffering from substance abuse, dual diagnosis, borderline personality disorder, depression, anxiety, trauma, or any other disorder.