When I first got sober I made the decision based on a severe desperation to live life on different terms than I had been. I was tired of the habit loop I had created, which consisted of cocaine benders and binge drinking until sunrise every time I went out. I couldn’t bare the subsequent anxiety and panic attacks anymore.
Deep down, I had this strange knowing inside of me that there had to be a better way.
So many people ask me how I got sober. How did I do it? How did I quit drinking and using? While those are natural questions to help someone get started, I think the more important question to answer is not how to get sober, but how to stay sober.
Getting sober is one thing, but living a life of sobriety is another ball game. Getting sober really comes down to making a decision and being resolute about seeing it through. From there you must break the pattern and habit by being willing to do things differently.
Initially, this may mean getting yourself into a medical detox to help you come off your pick of poison. For others, this may be checking into rehab to have professionals help guide you through the process of getting clean. Another entry point may be by getting to a support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.
For me, I took a non-traditional route, which did not include rehab or meetings. Not that there’s anything wrong with either, they just were not part of my path.
Instead, I found my faith, started going to church and the gym and if you want the honest answer – issued a challenge to myself to go 30 days. To that, I had someone flat out tell me “there’s no way you’ll make it,” which only fueled my fire and desire to get healthy. I went 30 days, then 60, then 90 – and 8+ years later, the rest is history.
I had no desire to go back to that life once I understood what life on the other side felt like.
Any way you enter into recovery is golden. There is no wrong way to get off the sauce as long as you make sure you understand how withdrawals work and when you may need medical attention. Getting yourself unraveled from addictive behaviors is truly the only goal in the beginning.
After you establish a life without alcohol and drugs, that’s when the deeper work begins. It’s important to define what works for you on your path and what you need to stay sober.
There are so many ways to stay the course, but there are some key areas that have helped me to navigate a sober life, which I believe have increased my chances for success and happiness.
Becoming hyper aware of your thoughts, especially around drinking or using was a game changer for me. Understanding when the voice in my head was creating a craving or telling me reasons it would be a good idea to drink helped me to flip the script on it.
The more I listened for it and actively told it “NO,” a technique I learned from the book Rational Recovery, the more I realized I DID have a choice and the stronger my willpower became because of this.
Pay attention to the conversations you’re having with yourself. There is power inside the discovery of your thoughts and bringing awareness into how you make your decisions.
Developing a daily practice for you to connect to yourself and a higher power is so essential. I like to do this in the morning to set the tone and get my head in the right space to tackle the day.
Prayer, meditation, being in nature, journaling or even reading from a book with some sort of daily wisdom, are all great ways to stay in a positive mindset.
Getting in touch with the universe and your soul is extremely transformative.
Johann Hari, an author and researcher, breaks down the likely cause of addiction in a thought provoking discussion demonstrating that lack of connection to others or oneself plays a large role in substance abuse.
This solidifies that connection is everything. Finding a community of people who understand what you are going through and can support you as well as hold you accountable is uber important in recovery.
I’m a big believer that your tribe affects your vibe. Get involved with a group, either in person or online, and get plugged in with people who can walk the talk with you.
All addiction is the byproduct of an obsessive mind. Finding healthy outlets to manage our obsessive nature is the best way to find balance. Go for a run, pump some iron, take a walk or dance in your living room (yes I do this). It doesn’t matter how you move as long as you’re moving.
It’s important to have to find ways to not only to move your body, but also to help you manage everything that will come up for you as you continue to gain more momentum in sobriety. Yoga has been a saving grace for me. It helps me to process stress, emotions and stay grounded.
Not to mention sweating is excellent for detoxing, which if you’re anything like me – I could probably use a lifetime of detoxing from all the BS I put in my body during my active addictions.
For so long, many of us hated ourselves and felt so much shame and guilt for our decisions. Learning how to take care of yourself and to love yourself is a great way to start healing all the bruises and cracks.
Find things that make you feel good and find time every day for them.
Baths, music, massages, stretching, breathwork, making art, writing, having a cup of tea, essential oils, reading quotes, cooking, coloring books – they all may sound funny, but I encourage you to try some of them on. You’ll be surprised how good it feels to finally take good care of yourself.
Create A Life You Love
Ultimately, the goal of sobriety is to create a life you don’t need to escape from. I believe we are here on this earth to find a life that brings us joy and makes us feel alive.
With that said, happy creating, friends.