Addiction recovery is characterized by extreme emotions and requires major lifestyle changes. Although recovery is filled with ups and downs, the bumps on the road can often feel overwhelming and spur a relapse. Even those individuals with the best intention of avoiding relapse at all costs can find themselves relapsing and becoming frustrated as their efforts to stay clean and sober fail. But no matter what, there is always hope. To increase your chances of a successful recovery here are 10 things you can do to help you stay on track.
- Talk to your therapist. A personal therapist is always a good connection and support to have in recovery, especially one who specializes in addiction recovery and who is committed to helping you make choices that will empower your ability to stay sober. If you are feeling like you are losing hope, tell your therapist and ask for guidance and/or coping mechanisms that can help you turn things around.
- Attend a 12-Step meeting. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are just two of many 12-Step groups available free of charge in almost every community in the country. Hearing personal stories from members in recovery can put you at ease while sharing your experience with others reminds you that you are not alone. Other individuals may have been experiencing similar challenging situations and that can help you put things in perspective. Also, if you are feeling like using again, you can go to meetings to share this information and ask for the support of members. Remember, you are surrounded by people who have been where you are, and they are there to assist you in staying sober – all you have to do is ask for help.
- Talk to your sponsor. Talking to your sponsor about what you are experiencing may give you the opportunity to learn from your sponsor’s experience. Learn from the tips your sponsor provides and consider implementing one or more of them in your own life.
- Work the 4th step. Taking a fearless and moral inventory of your life in general or the circumstance that is causing you to feel hopeless in recovery can help to shed light on how your perspectives, assumptions, or behaviors may be contributing to the issue. Recognizing your part is just the first step. However taking responsibility, and focusing on changing untrue assumptions and correcting self-destructive thoughts and behaviors can help you to experience more hope in your everyday life and in every interaction.
- Volunteer at a homeless shelter. Spending a few hours serving lunch at a homeless shelter or serving the needy community at some level will remind you that your life is relatively good. Learning about the devastating loss and difficulty that most of these individuals face can serve you as a reminder of the route your life can take if you decide to give up on hope.
- Make a gratitude list. If you have done one already, revisit the list. If not take the time to write one and you will soon realize how much hope and love already exists in your life. Starting from your five senses; seeing, touching, tasting smelling, and hearing. Just from the ability to experience the world utilizing your senses you can create a long list of things to be grateful for. Then you can add the love and care of individuals who have helped you on your journey thus far. Keep writing and you will begin to see how much hope and love already exists in your life.
- Spend time with friends. When you’re feeling down or hopeless, don’t isolate yourself. Instead, reach out to friends and spend the day doing something you enjoy. Good friends will support you in finding sober activities to fill your free time.
- Indulge yourself in a healthy way. Being in addiction recovery doesn’t mean giving up in having fun. As long as your indulgence doesn’t include drugs or alcohol, or trigger any cravings, give yourself a boost and take a day for you. Go to a restaurant you like with friends and enjoy your favorite food, have a “sober” party, and invite the new friends you have made in recovery. Join a gym, find a hobby, go on adventures, spend the day discovering new places in your own town, public parks often offer an array of fun activities like canoeing, paddle boating, zip-lining, hiking. If you live in the coastal area, then go to the beach, walk, experience nature, and the air that surrounds you. If you can, plan future trips. Mountain climbing, sun and beach weekends, sober and wellness cruises, you name it. In sobriety, seeking new activities and being open to different experiences can help you find joy in your life.
- Connect with a new recovery support service. Try something new! Yoga, mindful meditation, ceramic classes, painting classes, spiritual services, wellness massage, acupuncture – anything that sounds interesting to you, and that will help you lower your stress and focus on the positive – is an excellent addition to your recovery plan.
- Consider a return to treatment. If nothing works for you, don’t lose hope. Seek professional specialized help and return to treatment. Relapse is NOT THE END OF RECOVERY.
If you or someone you know are in need of addiction treatment services call us at 1-800-851-3291. Our addiction treatment helpline is open 24/7 and admissions are often arranged within 24 hours
Dr. Balta is the Medical Director at FCR for more than 10 years. Dr. Balta is Board Certified in Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine, Certified Psychoanalyst. As well, as having Psychiatric Training at The Albert Einstein School of Medicine Psychiatric Residency Program In New York City and Psychoanalytic Training at The William Alanson White Institute in New York City. While working in New York City, gained funding Grants for the treatment of Substance Abuse Disorders from SAMHSA , HRSA and the City of New York.