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Drugs: Staying Sober

Recovery from drug addiction is a lifelong process.

Along the way, you may encounter challenges, but you have the strength to work through them. Knowing what obstacles you might face — and preparing yourself with tools to overcome them — can help you along your journey.

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Lighten the load: Tips for sober living

Recovering from drug addiction takes strength — but there are ways to make the process a little easier. Here are a few tips to help you live sober:

  • Stay positive. Every day, you’re getting one step closer to recovery. You may have setbacks, but it’s important to remember that you’ve found the strength to make a change. Bringing that positivity through your life can inspire you — and those around you — on your recovery journey.
  • Pay attention to when cravings occur. When you know what situations trigger the urge to use, you can avoid those situations when you need a break.
  • Forgive yourself. We’ve all made mistakes. You may feel you have damaged relationships or acted badly — but, aside from an apology, dwelling on the past isn’t likely to help. Try to accept the past, forgive yourself, and keep moving forward.
  • Stay healthy. Eating well, sleeping enough, and exercising regularly can make emotional challenges a little less daunting. When your physical health is balanced, it’s a lot easier to tackle mental challenges like temptation.
  • Try something new. Try out a new hobby, like recreational sports, dancing, creating art, or beginning a new instrument. Refocusing your attention on something new and fun can help you keep your mind off of drug use.
  • Ask for help. Remaining open to help and assistance from others, especially your loved ones, can build a valuable support system. Reaching out to someone you trust during difficult times during sober living can keep you living well.

Recovery challenges

Here are some challenges that you may face during recovery and ways to help you get through them:

Challenge:
Mental health issues
What You Can Do:
Schedule regular checkups with your primary care provider or therapist.
Challenge:
Financial troubles
What You Can Do:
Consult a financial adviser to help you create a personalized plan to better manage your finances.
Challenge:
Relationship problems
What You Can Do:
Attend therapy with your loved one to work through your issues and learn how to open the lines of communication.
Challenge:
Employment or academic difficulties
What You Can Do:
Connect with a career counselor or academic adviser to discuss your options, your skills, and other information that will help you find a path that’s right for you.
Challenge:
Loss of spirituality or religion
What You Can Do:
Talk with a spiritual adviser or clergy member about what you’re going through and how it might be affecting your beliefs.

It’s OK to ask for continued help

Taking care of your emotional well-being throughout the recovery process is essential. Reaching out for support can be a signal to yourself — and to your friends and family — that you’re committed to staying sober. Here are some ways for you to surround yourself with support:

  • Continue individual therapy. Sometimes, talking to a neutral third party about your experience can be a relief. A therapist or counselor can give you tools to manage pain, guilt, grief, or other emotions you may be experiencing. You may be able to find an individual therapist through your health insurance provider.
  • Explore family therapy. Going to therapy with your loved ones can help you understand each other’s experiences and find ways to support one another. A therapist or counselor can help you and your loved ones explore and understand the effects of complex or sensitive relationships and history.
  • Attend a support group meeting. It’s important to know that you’re not alone as you continue on your journey to recovery. Talking with others who have had experiences similar to yours can show you different ways of pursuing recovery — and it might even inspire you to share some tools you’ve uncovered along the way. Groups such as Narcotics Anonymous provide people in recovery with support.

Find support and resources near you.

Signs of a relapse — and what to do

If you notice one or more of the following signs, it’s possible that you’re at risk of relapsing:

  • Fantasizing, glamorizing, or obsessing over the idea of using
  • High levels of stress in day-to-day life
  • Distancing yourself from family (husband, wife, kids, parents) and friends
  • Feeling depressed or hopeless — like you haven’t made “real progress” in your recovery or like “nothing really matters”
  • Reconnecting with friends that abuse drugs

If you’re worried that you might relapse soon, tell someone you trust — like a family member, coach, or therapist— right away. Attending a group therapy session may help you find the inspiration you need to continue on your recovery journey.