You may be in recovery from substance abuse, but the work isn’t over once your rehab stint is over. In fact, addiction is a chronic illness that for many requires lifelong vigilance and care. That’s why it’s important for people in recovery to learn how to manage their triggers and stressors as well as build up their support system so they can have success in sobriety long after rehab.
Here are some tips for doing just that:
Define Success for Yourself
Part of the rehab process looks at how to be successful when you are no longer addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. What does sober living in Texas, Nebraska, or Georgia look like for you? Does it look like new friendships that don’t revolve around drinking? Does it look like overcoming past hurts that led you to turn to substance abuse in the first place? Only you can define what a successful life in sobriety will look like.
Set SMART Goals
Set SMART goals. If you don’t have a goal, how will you know if your efforts are paying off? SMART goals help keep you focused on what you want to accomplish by helping you define it in concrete terms and giving it a deadline. For example, “I want to lose 20 pounds by the end of June” is a specific, measurable goal that’s achieved through exercise and eating healthy foods. Keep track of how many days sober you’ve gotten so far this month or year—and reward yourself for each one.
Care for Your Body
As you learn to live without drugs and alcohol, it’s important to take care of your body in a way that will help you in sobriety. The best way to care for your body is by eating well, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. Eating well means eating foods that are nutritionally dense and healthy—not just things that taste good but are high in sugar. Ideally, you should eat lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein like chicken breast or fish, nuts, and seeds for essential fats. You’ll also want to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Exercise helps to manage hormones and moods, as well as releases endorphins that leave you feeling happy. And sleep also helps boost moods and gives you more energy.
Don’t be Afraid to go to Meetings
Meetings are a safe place to share your feelings, your experiences, and your story. No one there will judge you for your addiction and they will cheer you on to success in your sobriety journey. You can also learn from others and their successes and even get healthy accountability. If a meeting sounds like something you might be interested in, there are a lot of options out there including Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA).
Build a Support System
Aside from attending meetings, you need a healthy support system. A support system is a group of people who are committed to helping you achieve your sobriety goals. This can be a family member, friend, or professional working with you in therapy, or it may be all three. Support systems can vary from person to person and often include more than one type of support. A support system can help with recovery by providing encouragement and accountability as well as providing resources for those moments when you feel like quitting your program for good.
One of the most important things you can do as a recovering addict is to avoid triggers. A trigger is anything that reminds you of your addiction, such as alcohol, drugs, or people. For example, if someone offers you a drink and your friends pull out their cigarettes when they’re hanging out together, these are all examples of triggers that could lead to relapse.
If possible, stay away from places where there are things like alcohol or drugs around. This might mean avoiding clubs and bars, in addition to people who were part of your addiction life. It’s easy to get sucked back in, so make sure you have a plan to avoid these triggers.
Explore New Hobbies
If you’re looking to find new hobbies that get you out of your comfort zone, consider trying a class in person or online through a platform like Udemy. You can learn anything from a second language to how to decorate cakes. In-person classes are great because they expose you to new people and can help you make friends.
You can try things like a new sport, a dance class, or learn something like gardening. Find things that get you outdoors and stay active.