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8 Positive Things People in Recovery Do Every Day

“You can’t make yourself feel positive, but you can choose how to act, and if you choose right, it builds your confidence.” ~ Julien Smith, The Flinch One of the first things people in recovery from alcoholism or substance abuse is that addiction is a disease – an incurable, chronic disease. It is incurable because an addict/alcoholic there is currently no medicine they can take, no therapy they can undergo, no treatment they can receive, and no action they can take that will remove the predisposition that was shaped by their genetics, their former environment, and their past choices. It is chronic, meaning it will last the rest of the individual’s life, and if the proper steps aren’t taken, it will follow a predictable pattern – a downward, destructive pattern that is invariably fatal. In these ways, addiction is much like other incurable and chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease. However, also like these diseases, the progress of addiction can be arrested, and the person can recover sufficiently to live a healthy, productive, and largely normal life.

Recovery from Addiction Starts with Changing Mindsets and Behaviors

Although none of these diseases can be cured, there are steps that a person can take to maximize their chances of stopping their disease in its tracks. It all starts with changes in one’s mindset, which then leads to changes in behavior. For example, a person with Type II diabetes can often successfully manage their disease by losing weight, getting regular exercise, and controlling their sugar/carb intake. It means making a plan, having the discipline to stick to that plan, and making lifestyle changes, so the most harmful consequences of the disease never manifest.

Regular Behaviors That Support Recovery from Addiction Become Healthy Habits

Likewise, a person who is practicing successful recovery makes lifestyle changes that are conducive to long-term sobriety. This typically means changing the people, places, thoughts, and things that were part of their actively-addicted life. This is not easily done. The bad habits that support addiction may have been practice for years – even decades. Like any other part of recovery, it can mean taking baby steps and having faith in the process. 12-step recovery groups have two sayings that might be worth remembering – “easy does it” (baby steps) and “fake it until you make it” (having faith). Creating a new habit takes time. There is an established relationship between practicing a behavior and it becoming automatic. A study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology indicates that it takes an average of 66 days to establish a new habit. For a person in recovery, this is actually a convenient time length. Research has shown again and again that a person who stays in a structured recovery program for 90 days or longer has a much better chance at maintaining their sobriety that a person who remains for a shorter time. Think about that in practical terms. The first two months of the recovery process can be spent learning new behaviors, and then the third month can be used to put those behaviors into practice.

What Do People in Successful Recovery from Drug Addiction Do Every Day?

There is no sure-fire “one-size-fits-all” personal behavior that a person can do that will absolutely guarantee their sobriety – except for abstaining from drinking or using. That is the best “every day” habit that a person recovering from addiction must make a priority. However, there are a number of things that a person can do support their sobriety and maximize their chances for a lasting recovery. The more of these that a person does, the more likely their successful recovery becomes. 1. Pray/Meditate – A  lot of “old-timers” with long-term sobriety will say that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, you should hit your knees. Many recovering addicts and alcoholics realize tangible benefits when they have a conversation with their personal Higher Power every day. They find that they are able to unburden themselves of things that are bothering them and draw strength, inspiration, and hope from something greater than and outside of themselves. Meditation provides many of the same benefits. It allows the person in recovery to be mindful of where they are at this moment in the process and to be grateful for the progress they have made thus far. 2. Determine Whether They Need a Meeting Today – For a person in early recovery, the answer to the question “Do I need to go to a meeting today?” is always a resounding “YES!” There is magic, both perceived and actual, and the philosophy of attending 90 meetings in 90 days. Even when the newly-sober addict/alcoholic hasn’t fully bought into the idea of 12-Step addiction recovery support groups, they usually start getting the message simply through regular attendance. For a person with a period of sobriety, regular attendance is strongly encouraged, as well. However, even if it isn’t your “regular” night to go to a meeting, you should always perform a “fearless moral inventory” when meditating, and if you find yourself in a weak or overwhelmingly-stressful moment, a 12-staff meeting might be just the tonic you need. 3. Read Recovery Literature – Because addiction is a disease, there are always new treatment techniques and medical advancements promising relief. A person in recovery should always read and learn as much as possible about the causes of and treatment for their disease, and it is never a bad idea to read something inspirational from which to draw strength. The literature can be from any source – AA’s Big Book, medical articles, psychological journals, self-help books, etc. – anything that addresses the unique challenges faced by someone recovery. 4. Engage in Some Form of Physical Activity – Research indicates that aerobic exercise prevent and even possibly a can accelerate a person’s recovery from addiction. For example, regular exercise has been shown to prevent and possibly reverse the damage caused by chronic heavy drinking. Dr. Angela Bryant, of the University of Colorado at Boulder, says “What our data suggests is that beyond just giving people a different outlet for cravings or urges for alcohol, exercise might also help repair the damage that may have been done to the brain.” 5. Eat a Healthy Diet and Stay Hydrated – Newly-clean-and-sober people are taught to never let themselves get “too hungry” because their still-recovering brain often can’t differentiate between hunger pangs and cravings for drugs and/or alcohol. Eating right eliminates that misunderstood hunger. As an added bonus, a healthy diet will help a person repair the damage they did to their body while their addiction was active – malnutrition, a loss of important minerals, too much junk food, etc. 6. Make a Personal Connection with Someone – Another early lesson for people new to recovery is to never let themselves “too lonely”. That can be a difficult task since one of the hallmarks of addiction is how it separates the sufferer from others. A person in successful recovery knows that they must make the effort to reach out to others to keep from feeling isolated. They visit with their family and loved ones. They go online and reconnect with an old friend. They call their sponsor. If necessary, they go to a meeting and enjoy the fellowship found there. 7. Do Something Fun – Too many people have a “doom and gloom” approach to recovery, but who says that sobriety can’t be joyful? Once again, newly-sober individuals are told to never let themselves get “too bored”, lest they find themselves contemplating old destructive behaviors. One of the best ideas for recovering addicts who now find themselves with time on their hands is to take up (or resume) hobbies and activities that they find enjoyable. People in successful recovery will take a class, go to a museum, learn a new skill, find a creative outlet, or join a club – when it comes to positive ways to occupy one’s mind, the sky is literally the limit. 8. Find a Way to Give Something Back – 12-Step recovery groups suggest that now that a person has had a “spiritual awakening”, they should “carry the message to others”. In other words, those grateful souls who have been freed from the grip of addiction need to share the message of recovery. The sharing doesn’t have to take the extreme form of heading into bars to proselytize – it simply means finding a way to give back. A person can share the message by volunteering to serve as a 12-Step meeting. It can mean signing up to perform phone duty, taking calls from souls were once as desperate as they were. Many recovering addicts and alcoholics give back by acting as sponsors for others who are recently clean and sober. It doesn’t have to be dramatic. An individual strong in their recovery can carry the news of recovery to others just by setting the example – living a positive life free from the ravages of disease of addiction. It is important to remember that a “successful recovery” starts with abstaining from drugs and alcohol – nothing else good can happen as long as the person is still getting drunk and high. But it doesn’t end there. The goal of recovery is to give a person back the power that they lost to their addiction and restore manageability and serenity to their life. This is why recovery takes work, but in the end, what a person gets back is much more than they ever put in.