“Achieving true sobriety goes beyond abstinence. It’s also about healing your soul, apologizing for damage you did others, and seeking forgiveness.”
~ Lou Gramm, Jukebox Hero: My Five Decades in Rock ‘n Roll
There was a time where if you put it in front of me, I drink it, smoked it, snorted it, or swallowed it down with abandon. Not coincidentally, that was also the time that I was constantly sick, typically frantic, alienated from my loved ones, and always desperate.
That was about three years ago.
Today, I completely abstain from recreational drugs and alcohol, and my daily life is better for it. I’ve reestablished relationships that I thought were lost. I’ve regained my mental and physical health. Overall, I live a life of stability and serenity.
At least for today, I am living proof that recovery works. Maybe that’s because I’ve learned – and I continue to learn – how to stay out of my own way.
My Daily Life in Recovery
One of the most important things that I learned early in recovery is that my disease of addiction is incurable. Like it or not, I am going to be an addict for the rest of my life.
But this doesn’t mean that I have to be actively addicted for the rest of my life.
While I may be powerless over drugs and alcohol, I am not powerless when it comes to learning how to manage the symptoms of addiction so the disease does not destroy my life.
This requires both effort and vigilance on my part, but I’ve found that I am worth the effort.
As is the case with many people who grapple with substance abuse, my life is best served when it has a great deal of structure. There are certain activities and habits that I engage in every day that support my continued sobriety.
- I pray and meditate – The spiritual aspect of recovery is extremely important, even if you aren’t religious in the slightest. The idea is that you develop a sense of trust in something outside of and greater than yourself – the recovery process, your support system, or your own personal concept of God.
In the past, my way only got me into trouble. Now, I try to have faith that when I do what is right, good things will follow.
- I eat well – Proper nutrition is extremely important for a recovering alcoholic or addict, especially early on. It can be difficult to differentiate between hunger and a craving for alcohol or drugs. I never want to needlessly tempt myself, so I never let myself get too hungry.
- I read about my disease – When I was actively addicted, my life was all about living a diseased life. My behavior taught me everything that I never wanted to know about being sick.
Now, I want to learn how to live a life that is both physically and emotionally healthy.
- I try to be consciously aware of my actions and honest about my motivations – Just because I am physically sober doesn’t mean that I am emotionally sober. While actively addicted, self-destructive and manipulative behavior became second nature, and those shortcomings wrought havoc it in my life.
Today, I try to keep track of how all of my actions affect me and everyone around me, hoping to ensure that I’m doing the right things for the right reasons.
- I admit when I’m wrong –This is probably my biggest challenge. I’m still stubborn, so it is hard for me to ever admit when I am at fault. However, I have found that when I take responsibility, I learn how to avoid making the same mistakes again and again.
- I try to make up for any harm I’ve caused –I do this on a daily basis because it is part of admitting when I’m wrong. But I also have years of reparations to make for everything that I did when I was feeding my addictions.
I have hurt and let down so very many people, and in some cases, I will never be able to make amends for what I have done. The important part, however, is that I try. Whenever I honestly try to balance the scales, I free myself from having to carry around unproductive guilt and shame.
- I make an attempt to give back –When I can, I try to serve others, particularly other addicts and alcoholics. At 12-step meetings, I have passed out literature, made coffee, and cleaned up afterward. When I encounter another person in my life who is fighting their own battle with substance abuse, I discreetly and without judgment let them know that there is a better way that worked for me.
- I avoid my “triggers” –This is especially key when recovery is new and sobriety is fragile. I had to learn how to stay away from the people, places, and things that I associated with my old, actively-addicted life. In some cases, it meant dropping so-called “friends” who were in actuality, my drinking, and drug buddies. In a practical sense, it means staying away from places and activities where alcohol is a primary focus.
- I go to meetings –Unfortunately, I can’t attend 12-step fellowship meetings on a daily basis, but I do go regularly, and I make a special point to go whenever I feel tempted or have had a particularly bad day. For me, it is a safe place that gives me the strength and inspiration I need to make it through another day. I am never lonely when I am with others in recovery.
- I take some time for myself –If it sounds that a large part of my day is spent engaging activities that are directly associated with my recovery, that’s because it is. I always had the time to be drunk and high, so I make sure that I have the time to stay clean and sober.
But sobriety doesn’t have to be without joy. When I take some time – just for myself – to engage in some positive hobby or activity that makes me happy, that is just another bulwark that I put in place that keeps me away from a relapse. Boredom is counterproductive to sobriety.
- I try to be grateful –Sometimes, sobriety is a lot of work, so for me, it is important to remember everything that I have gained or regained during my journey of recovery. Some of what I have now I thought that I had lost forever. When I dwell on all of the good things in my life, it can help keep me on the right track when I’m feeling overwhelmed or discouraged. Sobriety brought all of these good things, so gratitude helps me to better value my recovery.
- I get plenty of rest –It is a good idea for a person recovery to never let themselves get too tired because an exhausted mind is bound to make poor decisions. Rest is restorative, so when life starts to get to me, I make sure that I take time to recharge my batteries. After all, I’m just sober for today. Tomorrow, it all starts again.
I am a drug addict and alcoholic, and I will be one for the rest of my life. But recovery has restored manageability to my life. I now have peace, happiness, and hope – because I got help. I could not have gotten where I am today by myself.
If you are powerless over alcohol or drugs and you feel that your life is out of control because of it, you, too, can recover. The experienced and professional staff at Ashwood Recovery are available to help you right now. When you make that call, you are showing that you are ready to make a real investment in yourself. That investment pays off by giving you your life back.