Getting clean and sober is a tremendous accomplishment.
It takes time and effort, and sometimes a fair amount of pain and struggle. But over time, the struggle fades and the day-to-day living becomes routine once again—you regain enough trust from your family to go back to functioning in the new normal way. You get your 90 meetings in 90 days completed. You regain some respect at work. Life goes on.
The idea that people just give up their addiction, and automatically live happily ever after, is a myth. This is because there will have been a reason why the individual fell into addiction in the first place; that reason will probably still be there when they get sober. The usual motivation for why people turn to substance abuse is an inability to cope with life– they will have been relying on ineffective coping strategies. If this individual just gives up alcohol or drugs without making any other changes, then they will just be back where they started. More work is needed so that this person is not only able to escape their addiction but also build a good life. This is why it is sometimes said that recovery is a process and not an event. The individual who passes through rehab does not graduate .Their journey is only just beginning.
No one wants to feel sad, depressed or angry. However, it is necessary to feel the full spectrum of emotions in order to feel joy or happiness. Addicts usually drink or take drugs to stave off emotional upset. When a feeling comes up that they do not like, they drink or use drugs to mask the emotion.
Newcomers to recovery have a difficult time identifying their emotions. Most treatment centers come equipped with charts that help new members identify anger, rage, sadness, depression, happiness, etc.
Learning to name emotions is an important beginning in early recovery. When we learn to identify our emotions before they escalate into dangerous territory, we can begin to regulate our moods. This way we can become more aware of what is going on within us, which is crucial to long-term abstinence.
Many people begin to abuse drugs or alcohol because they feel incapable of enjoying life the way others do. As a result, learning to have fun while staying sober is one of the most common problems faced in recovery. While life in recovery can be a learning process, it’s entirely possible to enjoy life without the crutch of drugs and alcohol. Here are the top ten steps for making sober life more rewarding:
- Don’t sit on the sidelines and watch everyone else. Dive into recovery headfirst.
- Continue to work the 12 Steps.
- Stay honest with yourself throughout recovery.
- Make new friends that share some of your interests.
- Spend time with people that make you feel good about yourself. Don’t forget to laugh.
- Develop a new hobby, or sign up for a sports team.
- Eat nutritious meals and exercise most days of the week.
- Serve and help others
Other ways to discover healthy ways to have fun in recovery include hobbies and travel. Don’t forget the importance of allowing yourself to laugh – often and well. In the meantime, make sure that celebrations with family and friends are safe, so they have the potential to be healthy, good fun for all concerned.
Finally, be willing to love and be loved. Keep in mind that life is precious and short. You can discover healthy ways to have fun and maintain your sobriety in the process. Think of this as another aspect of an exciting journey you are taking. And, congratulations in advance on what you will learn and come to enjoy.