We have probably heard that staying sober in addiction recovery is difficult. And while it does definitely has its challenges, knowing what to expect and understanding how to overcome these difficulties before they happen can be the difference between success and failure.
Things that Make it Tough to Stay Sober
1. Unrealistic expectations
Upon leaving addiction treatment, it is not uncommon to feel the desire to boomerang your life back into order immediately. We may be thinking about a new career, buying a house, or meeting that special someone. Having goals for our first year in sobriety is great, but we need to keep it realistic. After all, we are recovering from an illness that took away years of our life. Staying sober and healthy is our number one priority, and if that is “all” you accomplish in your first year of sobriety, then you can give yourself a pat on the back! Recovery is hard work, and one should be proud of it!
2. New feelings
All those feelings that you had kept masked underneath drugs or alcohol will come flooding to the surface. Especially for the first few months in recovery feelings will be intensified and it can often be scary. But the best thing to do is acknowledge them – and then let them go by engaging in activity. Allowing to get lost deep into our thoughts can lead to relapse.
When intense negative feelings (this will happen a lot in early recovery) cloud your mind , going to the gym or taking a walk, meeting up with a friend for coffee – basically doing anything to get yourself ‘out of our head’. It has been a long time since we allowed our feelings to come through so strongly on a regular basis, and it will take a while to get used to them.
3. New responsibilities
Activities such as paying bills or applying for jobs may seem incredibly foreign and difficult. During active using period, these activities may have been done under the influence of a drug, or often completely neglected. Getting used to these “new” responsibilities can seem like a huge undertaking and can create stress. Stress is one of the biggest relapse triggers, so make sure you reach out for help.
4. Not fully committing to recovery
This is incredibly important. Staying sober is a continues process, not an overnight task. Recovery is a long and winding journey that we must be committed to in order to be successful. It is important to understand that you are responsible for your own recovery – while family, friends and sponsor can help you along the way.
5. Lack of positive thinking
Many people go into recovery feeling as though it is a jail sentence or some sort of punishment. It is important to remember the positive changes that recovery has brought or will bring to our life, and remind yourself of these things each and every day. It also helps to keep a gratitude journal, a gentle reminder of the things can be grateful for each day.
In order to be successful in addiction recovery, you must forgive yourself. This is very hard for some people, especially for those who were involved with dishonest or hurtful situations during their addiction. There are alcoholics and addicts responsible for taking another person’s life through motor vehicle accidents or violent acts while under the influence. No matter what you did during addiction, you need to forgive yourself. You need to understand that those actions were caused by your ignorance, and now that you are in recovery you are able to act as the person you truly are. Beating up over the past will only lead to depression, anger and other negative feelings that will probably push you into a relapse.
7. Undiagnosed reoccurring disorder
As many as 60% people with a substance abuse disorder have at least one other mental health disorder, often referred to as a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder. Common mental health disorders that accompany addiction include stress or anxiety disorders, depression, personality disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among others.
If you have an underlying mental health disorder that has not been properly diagnosed, chances of staying sober will significantly decrease. It is important that addiction treatment provider is experienced in dual diagnosis. If you believe that you may have an underlying mental health disorder that has not been properly diagnosed, talk to a mental health professional immediately, before your disorder causes you to relapse.