By Toshia Humphries
It’s a new year. And, as such, many people have made some important resolutions to begin changing their lives for the better. Vows to eat healthy, exercise more and reestablish connections with friends or estranged family members are just a handful of examples.
Still, some resolutions are life and death matters. Getting sober is certainly one of those. Seeking treatment and entering into a lifelong recovery process, however, is not always the wording or perspective used when making that resolution.
Yet, as we know, getting clean is just the first step on a journey which requires commitment and a lot of work and support to sustain.
Of course, other resolutions—like eating better, working out and reestablishing relationships—takes work too. But, with regard to getting sober and staying sober, the work is a bit more involved and a lot more challenging.
What could be more challenging than turning down sweets or fried foods? Facing yourself and all the pain you’ve been suppressing, avoiding and attempting to numb throughout your active addiction.
The thought of that makes going to the gym every day look pretty easy, right? Right.
But without emotional, psychological and spiritual health, physical health is pointless. And, with regard to active addiction, all of the above are completely compromised.
As such, it is important to know what steps to take to follow through on the New Year’s resolution to get sober. More importantly, it’s vital to learn tips for maintaining that sobriety through active recovery.
Seek Treatment. Of course, the first step to getting sober is to admit you need to. Kudos for recognizing there is, indeed, a problem.
However, getting sober is not as easy as putting down the drugs or alcohol. In fact, to do only that is potentially deadly, as alcohol withdrawals can be fatal. Additionally, to stop drinking without treatment or recovery is referred to as “white-knuckle sobriety,” and it is a setup for a relapse which spirals one further down past the initial rock bottom.
As such, it is vital to seek treatment. There are residential, rehabilitation and outpatient treatment facilities available. Find what best suits your personal and financial needs.
Find Community. Once you have entered treatment, you are considered a recovering addict/alcoholic. As such, you will meet many others while you are in treatment who are recovering as well. This creates a wonderful support network of people who understand your struggle and can easily relate.
The challenge begins when you leave treatment and all those individuals, supportive staff members and the safety of the facility behind.
As such, it is necessary to plug yourself into a recovery community as soon as possible. You can begin asking for information on how and where to access sober living, recovery and/or collegiate recovery communities while in treatment. Otherwise, you can easily find this information online.
If you live in a rural community and have limited or no access to these communities, it may be necessary to simply seek the support of a sponsor, counselor, church community or spiritual group or commute to the nearest recovery group, if possible.
Get Support. When you are plugged into a recovery community, it feels like enough. But, for the record, it isn’t. Though you are surrounded by people who understand and have likely been in your shoes or are currently going through it who can help you work the program, they are not capable of being your personal therapist. This is especially true with regard to dual diagnosis.
For that reason, it is best to seek a counselor or psychologist, along with a sponsor and/or recovery coach, when in recovery. Finding a professional who can help you sort out any emotional/psychological issues resulting from your time in active addiction, as well as those that spurred or perpetuated it, is vital to preventing relapse.
Do the Work. The process of recovery is not an easy one. It is a lifelong journey of personal growth, healing, empowerment and enlightenment. And, because it requires a lifetime commitment, the work never ends.
However, the workload does decrease. Once the deep wounds are surfaced, the grieving begins and (of course) and dual diagnoses are addressed and treated, the work becomes about maintenance.
Of course, that doesn’t mean things get easy. Conversely, there are no easy routes in recovery. But, if you do the work—the hard, grueling and scary work—in the beginning, the journey becomes less daunting, and the gifts that result becomes clear and accessible.
The resolution to get sober is an admirable one. But, just to state it as a desire or a promise to yourself is not enough. Active addicts break promises to themselves and others every single day. It’s a criteria for diagnosis.
As such, make this resolution stick, so you can be around to make another one on the last day of this year.