For many in recovery from addiction, the process is about more than simply losing an addiction. It is usually about regaining happiness and enjoyment of life. After all, most of us want to be happy, and recovery offers individuals the chance to stop killing themselves with substances to start living a life of freedom. Recovery isn’t easy, but regaining your sanity, your sobriety, and your serenity will bring untold happiness if you have been struggling with drug and alcohol addiction for long enough.
While recovery can be difficult, it doesn’t have to miserable. Just like addiction usually grows over time with the accumulation of bad habits, your journey to sobriety can be an eventual success if you accumulate and continue to practice good habits and continually practice positivity. To make sure your recovery is as successful as possible, you can practice these 7 habits of highly successful people in recovery.
1. Play to Your Strengths
The 12 Steps asks individuals in recovery to take a “fearless moral inventory” of themselves in order to acknowledge the areas where they can begin to work on. This is invaluable advice, and even if you are not following a 12 Step program, it doesn’t hurt to take a moral inventory of yourself and identify where your strengths and weaknesses lie. For example, you may be intensely loyal, highly intelligent, highly creative, or all of the above! You may be kind to others. or an incredibly trustworthy person. However you may also be prideful, gluttonous, or envious of others. In this portion of recovery, take an honest and accurate look at your life up to this point and take stock of the good as well as the bad parts of you. By doing this, you can better identify your strengths as well as the areas you need to be cognizant of and work on.
Often times we can become fixated on all or nothing thinking. We may only focus on the negative and become mired down in self hate and depression. Or we may become arrogant and feel there is nothing else for us to work on. If you are honest with yourself, you will be able to stop yourself from all or nothing thinking by remembering the good during the bad, and remembering to stay humble when you are feeling on top of the world.
2. Surround Yourself With POSITIVIty
One of the first lessons that you will learn in rehab is that if you want to change your life, you have to change the way you think, what you do, and who you are around. In other words, you need to surround yourself with positivity and do your best to emanate that positivity to others and the world around you. For individuals in recovery, this also means staying away from places of negativity or places that trigger you to use again.
You don’t want to trigger a relapse, so make sure to change your environment so that you can avoid that risk. This can go beyond avoiding old drinking buddies and such. You should also try and surround yourself with people who actively support your recovery. Not everyone has to be your champion, but it helps to be around people who respect your decision and encourage your continued happiness and health. The important thing is ditching the negativity in your life, which although may still be tough to do, is worth the reward.
If at first it is difficult to surround yourself with positivity and hard to escape negativity, you should spend time working on your recovery in support groups or individual therapy. These opportunities will help to encourage you when you are feeling tempted or overwhelmed. Addiction professionals and peers in recovery will be able to understand where you are coming from and help you put your recovery first. Some options you can try out include:
- 12 Step Fellowship Meetings
- Group Therapy
- Support Groups
- Individual Therapy
You should also work on finding a sponsor who can help bring positivity, enthusiasm, and stability to your recovery. Your sponsor is someone who you should be able to get in touch with at any time and who you can talk openly with. If you feel the temptation to use again, they can talk to you and help you understand that it’s no worth relapsing. Maybe you need a ride, or maybe you just need someone to lend an ear for an hour. To find your emergency contact, look for someone else who has been in recovery or who knows you extremely well, such as a best friend, parent, or sibling. When it comes to picking a sponsor, you should look for a few characteristics, especially if this is your first time having a sponsor.
You should choose a sponsor whom:
- You relate to, or whom you respect and admire
- Has at least 1 year of sobriety under their belt
- Has 1 or more other sponsees and is actively engaged with them
- Actively lives the 12-Step Principles in their daily lives
- Is honest and open-minded
3. Don’t Stress It
The reality of life is that you are bound to run into stressful situations from time to time. However, if you want to be successful in recovery, one of the most critical things you can do is limit your exposure to stress situations and events. While it may seem impossible at first, there are some simple steps you can take to limit the amount of times that stress gets to you. It all comes down to budgeting your time, energy, and resources to ensure you never over exert yourself, for example:
- Set aside time each day for self care
- Actively avoid negative and overly dramatic people
- Budget your energy so that you are not emotionally or physically over exerted
- Remember to prioritize your recovery first
- Learn to say NO
- Slow down and don’t try to take care of everything at once
- Practice stress reducing techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, exercise, and meditation
4. Look for the Good and Make It Last
This habit comes down to recognizing the positive things in your life and acknowledging instead of glossing over them. You should make a point of trying to notice everything positive around you, even the little things such as a smile from a stranger, the sunshine, some positive news, or even just for another day of life. When you find any small happiness, try to savor it and make it last. Remind yourself of how lucky you are to be living this life sober, and what good still remains for you to experience.
“Having a positive mental attitude is asking how something can be done rather than saying it can’t be done.” - Bo Bennett
If you need some help staying positive from moment to moment, here are 6 tips courtesy of positivity blog writer Henrik Edberg:
Find the optimistic viewpoint in a negative situation.
One of the simplest but most effective ways to build a more positive outlook is to look for the simplest things to be thankful for in any scenario, good or bad. For example, asking yourself, “What is one thing that is positive or good about this situation?” or “What is one opportunity within this situation?”
Cultivate and live in a positive environment.
This goes back to the second habit. Who you choose to spend your time with and the environment you choose to live in can play a part in how you feel. The key to staying positive is to have influences in your life that support you and lift you up instead of dragging you down.
Sometimes stress can slowly sneak up on us and we can subconsciously react by speeding up our thinking, talking, and doing. However, this is when mistakes get made. Stress builds up and causes physical anxiety, so sometimes it takes a conscious effort to reverse that proclivity and instead try to slow things down, breathe deeply, and consider things carefully.
Don’t let fear hold you back
In the timeless words of FDR, sometimes the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Starting a new habit or venturing into a new business can be nerve wracking, but a common trap is to get fixated thinking about what could go wrong, what doesn’t feel right, and a million other unknowns that paralyze you. The best way to overcome this is to ask yourself honestly what the worst thing is that could happen and whether you truly need to worry about it. Usually your fears are unfounded and the worst thing that could happen is not the end of the world.
Add positivity and value to someone else’s life
What you give to the world you tend to get back in some form or another. Not every time, but as a general rule of thumb it is pretty accurate. How you treat others especially is something that could come back to affect you. In other words, give out and spread positivity in as many ways as you can. For example, start listening to others, go out of your way to help others, and just emanate positivity when it is needed.
Exercise and eat well
Addiction to drugs and alcohol can wreak havoc on the balance we normally maintain when it comes to healthy diet and exercise. Maintaining a regular aerobic exercise routine and eating healthy can actually lower risk of developing an addiction or relapsing from a prior addiction. Research has shown that individuals who regularly engage in exercise are less like likely to use and abuse illicit drugs, and that exercise offers special protective behavioral and neurological effects against developing a substance use disorder.
5. Don’t Make a Mountain out of a Molehill
It’s easy to get lost in our own perspective. After all, it’s the only one available to us 24/7. The thing is, this can cause us to see things to be vastly different from how they may actually be in reality. As such, it can be easy to make a mountain of a molehill. A simple way to handle these kinds of situations is just stop, breathe, and refocus. Try to view things from an outsider or the other person’s perspective. Is it really that big of a deal? It’s ok to feel how you are feeling, but you are still in control of how you react.
6. Find New Ways to Have Fun
One of the biggest challenges for individuals in recovery is rediscovering ways to enjoy being healthy and sober. Although it may seem impossible at first, there are so many great opportunities available to help you replace your substance use with something that provides fun, excitement, and positive effects for your health. You can check out local museums, enroll in classes that catch your fancy, take up a new hobby you know nothing about, attend local music shows, try your hand at cooking new dishes, volunteering, or all of the above.
While you may not feel as though you want to do anything, give it time. You brain’s depleted dopamine levels need time to adjust and recalibrate to sobriety. Soon you will find activities that are rich and fulfilling. With recovery, sometimes a fake it till you make it mentality will get you through in one piece.
7. Continually Be Grateful
Addiction is a destructive disease that takes its toll on lives. It can be easy to only see the destruction your addiction has caused, but try to see the bright side and be grateful for what you have been given. Getting sober after an addiction asks us to become more thoughtful, cognizant of our emotions, kinder to ourselves and others, and more in touch with the world around us. In other words, although it is a harrowing experience, it also gives us the chance to better ourselves, meet wonderful people, and best of all, create a bright future.
At Landmark Recovery, we are dedicated to helping our patients find peace with through education and individualized treatment. The fight against addiction can be tough but with our tools and resources, patients can get the support they need. We provide residential treatment, an intensive outpatient program, and medical detox centers to individuals struggling with a substance use disorder. If you believe that your or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse issues, please feel free to reach out to our admissions team.