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Habits that keep you succeeding in recovery

By Tim Woodley

You’re considering recovery, or you may be beginning it soon. As many other sensible adults have, you’re looking for any advice you can find on how to improve your chances of beating your addiction and living a life free from it. You may be seeking this information on behalf of a friend or loved one.

Today the Help Me Stop team is covering just that – advice based on our decades of experience in providing effective treatment services for drug and alcohol misuse. Here are our thoughts on how to keep you or a loved one succeeding in recovery.


Accept permanent change

The journey of recovery brings about a profoundly different life for anyone who goes through it. The habits and patterns of behaviour that supported the lifestyle of a former addict aren’t compatible with someone seeking sobriety, and it’s a hard truth to accept that things will never be the same once a person triumphs over their problematic drug and alcohol misuse.

This isn’t a loss, however. Instead, it’s a fact of recovery one needs to embrace in order to succeed. While there’s comfort in old ways, it’s a mistake to allow yourself to cling to that comfort in a bid to retain in your new, sober and drug free life. Just as you will come to understand your lack of power or control over the substances that held you, so too should you appreciate the fresh and different start so important to succeeding in long term recovery.


Embrace the process

It’s fine to struggle during your recovery; going through drug and alcohol treatment and also maintaining abstinence on completion is one of life’s hardest challenges. With that said, it’s good to learn to embrace the process of recovery from moment to moment.

What do we mean by this? In short, it’s about not allowing frustration to overcome you. Undertaking drug and alcohol treatment and maintaining abstinence brings with it significant stress, and it’s normal for us to vent this by becoming angry and irritated. There’s a lot of work involved in any Dayhab or any rehab programme, and while it’s tempting to succumb to these feelings when we view the activities and schedule so important to any rehab programme, it’s better to submit to and accept them.

By embracing the work before you and the challenge it brings instead of fighting it, you can find a place of calm during difficult moments that will help you to be more productive and disciplined as you proceed. Take satisfaction from doing small things well and allow this focus to draw you away from urges and destructive feelings.

It is important to live one day at a time, to focus on the present moment, and not fixate on the past or future. Most people going through the process of recovery will likely feel guilt and shame about their past addictive behaviours, and this can be a trigger to use. Also, there is a tendency be unsure about their future and anxious for the unknown, which can also be a trigger to use. Focusing on the goals of just getting through the day and keeping in the present allows you to work on developing useful coping skills now, so you are prepared for the future and able to handle the past.


Develop trusting relationships with your rehab professionals

There’s a lot that’s new when you go through rehab. Similar to how therapy can shake the foundations of how you view the world and yourself, Dayhab and other rehab programmes both hit you with new ideas and truths in a short space of time.

Many of these will feel foreign to you, and it’s important when this happens to be accepting and trusting in receiving them. Have faith that the professionals working with you know their field well; by learning to accept what’s given to you during your treatment, you’ll find it easier to transition into a new lifestyle and way of thinking that will support and enable your sobriety, abstinence and recovery.


Develop your body as best you can

We covered the importance of exercise during recovery in a recent blog, and we encourage you to visit that page and have a read. While we can’t all always exercise equally, it’s important to do as much as you can during your rehabilitation programme and after it.

Exercise, in addition to releasing endorphins which drastically improve our mood, is an important mirror of sorts to your recovery programme. The kind of mental strength you develop by sticking to a fitness routine can be easily transferred over to your recovery and abstinence from drugs and alcohol, making your success in rehab and long-term sobriety easier to achieve.

The same goes for nutrition. Since drug and alcohol abuse impairs organ function and metabolism, it can prevent the body from absorbing and utilising essential nutrients. Overall, poor nutrition leads to vitamin deficiencies and a host of other health issues. That’s why it’s essential to recognise the importance of nutrition and a healthy diet and substance abuse recovery. This will supply your body with the energy it needs to not only support recovery, but to but kickstart its own repair.


Relearn what fun means to you

Hobbies are excellent tools in living a fulfilling life as a recovered individual. For many addicts, activities that are fun to them invariably involve or lead to substance misuse, making it hard to envisage an enjoyable life without drugs and alcohol. Finding fun things to do in recovery is important to stem the feelings of boredom; often this is a shortcut into romanticising about the old days when you were taking a particular substance, which leads into a false belief that life was better and more fun at that time.

Relearning how to enjoy things sober and drug free is vital to avoid relapsing into substance misuse. Being mindful is an important tool you’ll learn to draw on in your Dayhab or rehab programme, and it’s useful too in finding and enjoying hobbies in the moment. Always remember that sobriety and a drug free lifestyle is its own reward, and that it’s important to be grateful for the chance to live a new life free from the destructive behaviours that held you down in the past.

If you’re scratching your head about what hobbies to get into in your new life, it’s good to start by thinking about activities and clubs that don’t involve substances and won’t lead to scenarios where they’ll be involved, such as social drinking after a club activity. Some gatherings and clubs may even be designed explicitly to be alcohol free – a great choice for recovered and recovering people to meet and find support from each other.

Surrounding yourself with “safe” people is also very important as you may have found that in your journey to recovery you have had to let some people go. Peer support networks such as AA, NA, CA and SMART are an excellent way to have these needs met.


Thanks for reading!

Another day, another blog from Help Me Stop that we hope will help you on your path to recovery, sobriety and a drug free life. Get in touch at no obligation if you need a helping and sympathetic ear; you can do so by using our contact form, live chat or by calling direct at 0208 191 8920.

We hope to hear from you soon.

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