Maintaining sobriety after struggling with alcohol addiction is one of the most challenging things a persona can accomplish. Alcohol is so readily available, and temptations to drink are so common, that building a network of resources to help you not drink can be critical to your recovery success. The following are some of the most effective ways to maintain your sobriety.
The first and most important step in achieving freedom from alcohol dependence is receiving comprehensive treatment. Simply detoxing and white-knuckling it almost never works for very long. Alcoholism is a very powerful physiological and psychological disorder that changes the way your brain works. It’s not simply a matter of choosing not to drink. The part of your brain most directly impacted by addiction is the pleasure center. This is the same part of the brain that manages learning, memory, impulse control and mood regulation. It is much more powerful in the direction of behavior than the rational or conscious part of your brain is. Long-term recovery requires a sort of re-programming of the way this part of your brain works. Through medical care, counseling, education and skill development your brain can return to its pre-addiction functioning. Without treatment, though, your brain will constantly work against your recovery. If you haven’t received comprehensive, holistic treatment for your addiction please call our helpline right now.
Working the 12-Steps
If you have completed rehab you have, no doubt, learned the 12-Steps or a similar discipline. It is tragically common for people to start to believe, after a few weeks or month of sobriety, that they no longer need to work the steps. The truth is, however, that the steps increase your mindfulness, open your lines of communication, provide opportunities for you to serve others, and reinforce the healing of your brain. Many recovering addicts find value in continuing to work the steps years, or even decades, after they got clean. In some cases the language or practice of the steps may be altered, but the essence is what matters. Are you regularly reminding yourself of your reality and committing yourself to stay connected to others? Are you making amends for wrongs you have committed against others? Are you staying in touch with your support network and being honest about your temptations and trip-ups? The steps work, but only when they are used.
Your Own Private Hotlines
No doubt you have a cell phone with you at all times. Make sure that your sobriety coach or sponsor is set to speed-dial. In fact, it is a good idea to have the phone numbers of several friends and fellow travellers on the road to recovery at your fingertips. As soon as you feel yourself being triggered make a call to someone and talk about it. Verbalizing your temptations moves them into the rational part of your brain where you are more capable of managing your emotions and responses. Don’t wait until you’re at the bar or holding a glass, either. Call someone at the first thought of drinking. If none of your network is available to take your call please call our toll-free helpline any time of day or night.
Stay In Touch with Your Emotions
Alcoholism functions in the subconscious part of your brain, but certain activities can help you move thoughts and urges into the conscious part of your brain where you are more able to manage them. The following are just a few examples of activities that can help you stay connected with your emotions throughout the recovery process:
- Watching a healthy film or reading a good book
- Listening to music that encourages you
- Physical activity such as working out, hiking, swimming or biking
- Meeting with a counselor or sobriety coach
In certain circles the process of staying connected with your emotions is called “mindfulness.” Being mindful is an incredibly empowering practice. You can learn to manage your emotions instead of constantly being driven by them. Mindfulness is about gaining control over various aspects of your subconscious mind. It takes practice, but leads to increased peace, wellness and health.
Stay Busy, But Know How To Rest
Boredom and rest are not the same things. Boredom is a common substance abuse trigger. Many people get caught in a cycle of needing constant stimulation and moving from one rushed event to the next. Remove the source of excitement and these people feel bored, and eventually anxious and unsettled. When addicts feel unsettled they tend to medicate with substances that will help them relax. Thus avoiding boredom is critical for your long-term sobriety.
But you can’t stay busy constantly. Everyone needs rest. Some people experience rest by taking a walk, going fishing or reading a book. Rest doesn’t mean doing nothing, it simply means that you are taking a break from work and anything that depletes your energy in order to invest time in the things that charge you up, build you up and make your life worth living. Many recovering alcoholics benefit from planning their rest time carefully. It can be helpful to engage in restful activities with others in order to avoid loneliness or boredom.
Call Our Helpline
If you would like more information about resources that can help you to not drink please call our toll-free helpline right now. Regardless of the day or the hour, we are here and we are ready to help you with no-strings-attached advice, ideas, and referrals. You are not in this alone. Call now.