Trying to Stay Sober in 2019? Follow These 5 TipsJanuary 9, 2019 - Recovery, Rehab, Therapy - 0 Comments
Recovering from drug abuse is a real challenge but is something that anybody can handle with a little focus and a lot of help. Finishing a detox and dual-diagnosis program should provide most individuals with the information and coping skills that they need to not only get through treatment but to improve the efficacy of their recovery from opioids and opiates dependency.
However, relapse is a problem that looms large in the lives of anybody trying to use the 12 step program to get over their reliance on benzodiazepines or alcohol. A relapse into addiction is just like a relapse with any other kind of disease and must be treated with care and attention. Unfortunately, most people who suffer a relapse likely feel like a failure or think that they don’t deserve sobriety.
Listen. Is a relapse in cancer a symptom of a person’s failure to beat their disease? Absolutely not. Disease relapses are merely a part of the recovery and treatment process. Obviously, relapses during drug rehab are more complicated, as they involve physical, mental, and behavioral elements. However, a focused and well-prepared individual can beat relapse and stay sober by following the effective steps outlined below.
Spend Time in Nature
People struggling with drug abuse likely haven’t spent a lot of time in nature since developing this disease. Many have probably spent most of their time in their home or the homes of others abusing substances. Unfortunately, people who avoid nature or who claim that they don’t enjoy it are doing themselves a great disservice by not spending time surrounded by natural beauty.
Multiple studies have confirmed what fans of the outdoors have known for years: spending time outdoors is good for mental health. For example, an article by The Conversation discussed how spending time outdoors helped to improve a person’s overall mental health. Solitude is particularly crucial in this scenario, as most people are surrounded by too much stimulation in their daily lives.
This constant stimulation is a significant problem because it can trigger a numbing experience in the brain. Actions and behaviors that were once pleasurable for a person – such as reading a book, sexual intercourse, or a single drink of alcohol – don’t bring the joy that they once did to a person. Their mind – stuffed with too many details from their everyday lives – craves more stimulation and becomes addicted to constant stimulation, including drugs.
However, individuals who spend time unwinding outdoors can calm their mind and pull themselves away from the negative influence of the modern world on their drug use. For example, Psychology Today discusses the many types of therapeutic wilderness programs used to manage mental health problems and addiction with hiking, climbing mountains and hills, camping in the woods, fishing, and swimming.
The benefits of these programs have been confirmed in many different studies. One test took a look at the social and financial benefits individuals experienced when going through wilderness therapy. Those in the study learned new skills, built strong friendships, and felt like more capable people who could better cope with the demands of their substance abuse. So schedule a solitary camping trip in some true wilderness to calm your mind and improve your recovery.
Practice Regular Meditation
Meditation might seem like New Age nonsense to people who have never tried it. People from older generations may even remember seeing hippies meditating or trying it out as a young hippie. However, modern science has confirmed what has been evident for thousands of years: meditation has a powerful effect on a person’s mental health and may serve as a great way to overcome addiction to various substances.
For example, an article on Headspace – an online meditation provider – discussed the ways that an individual used meditation to overcome alcoholism. The writer explains how meditation allowed them to clear their mind when impulses for alcohol use struck. Instead of giving into their triggers, they were able to refocus their mind on positive thoughts and get through their cravings. Meditation allows a person to think about what really matters in their lives and to refocus on it. And beyond these benefits, meditation causes a real physical reaction in the brain.
For example, a study by Harvard Medical School took a look at the power of meditation for overcoming depression and anxiety. Benjamin Shapero, a psychiatry instructor at the schooll paired with Gaëlle Desbordes. The two decided to see how the mind changed when a person practiced mindfulness-based meditation. The two used fMRI probes to take images of depressed individual’s brains before they meditated and after they finished their meditation. Desbordes herself had experience with meditation and was curious about how it worked on the mind.
During the study, Desbordes noted differences in the amygdala before and after a person had meditated. This part of the brain is responsible for feeling emotions and, in depressed and anxious individuals, it is often overstimulated. Desbordes’ scans of her test subjects before meditation confirmed that their amygdala was overstimulated. However, the after scans showed that the amygdala was less active after meditating, even hours or days after finishing.
These benefits easily translate to people who are suffering from a crippling addiction. Calming the amygdala could help minimize their emotional need to relapse. Just as importantly, meditation could ease their mind and relax their body, making overcoming their need to abuse substances much easier. Even 10 minutes of meditation a day can help.
Think Small and Plan for Each Day
Gaining a sober lifestyle requires a lot of careful planning and dedicating yourself to the ultimate goal of lifelong sobriety. However, you cannot jump into a life of permanent sobriety without making small steps towards staying clean for the rest of your life.
Baby steps are often the best way to finish difficult tasks without getting derailed. For example, an article by Inc.com states that “Setting the bar too high can serve to de-motivate and discourage you from ever getting started–especially if there isn’t a specific plan for how to get there, or if you aren’t already on a clear trajectory to hit the mark.”
Essentially, an individual needs to start their recovery and treatment by thinking small and focusing on little tasks. For example, instead of thinking “I need to stay sober FOREVER” a person can set a series of steps that increase in difficulty, such as “cleaning all drug paraphernalia out of the house,” “staying sober for 12 hours,” “staying sober for a day,” and “staying sober for a week.”
As people meet these small goals, their sense of accomplishment will gradually increase. Staring at the endless goal of permanent sobriety may cause a person to feel hopeless or trigger a lack of focus. However, feeling rewarded for small, but adequate, steps will help a person stay focused on sobriety and improve its effectiveness.
And larger goals in life, such as finding a new career, can also be used to help them stay on the path to permanent recovery. Other small steps that can help an individual on the road to sobriety include making contact with old friends, buying new clothes, and eating one healthy new food every day.
Drop Non-Sober Friends, If Necessary
Addiction is often a social disease, particularly when abusing illicit substance such as heroin. However, even legal drugs, like alcohol, have a social element that is hard to deny. For example, people often go to the bar with friends every day on the weekend to cut loose, have fun, and end up drinking way too much alcohol. Sadly, this type of social interaction can trap an individual in a nasty cycle of addiction.
Anyone who is serious about recovery needs to seriously assess their relationship with anybody whom they have used drugs with in the past. Do these individuals offer friendship and companionship based on true feeling or mutual drug abuse? Assess this possibility and honestly weigh whether or not non-sober friends are worth your attention.
The unfortunate fact is that, nine times out of ten, a friend who abuses heroin, methamphetamine, prescription opioids, or alcohol won’t understand why a person wants to quit using substances. These individuals may then pressure their newly sober friend and try to get them to continue using. They aren’t trying to hurt their friend, per se, but merely find a social connection with them only through the abuse of various substances.
If you find that your relationship with a friend is based only on using substances together, then you should drop them from your life for good. Or, if you feel strong enough to help them, try to convince them to go through rehab, detox, or dual-diagnosis recovery. If they won’t listen to you or actively try to get you to use again, move on to a new sober friendship group.
Creating a sober support group is a powerful way to stay clean and away from problematic substances for the rest of your life. These groups can serve as a great way to have fun, meet new friends, or get support during the hard times of drug craving. A growing number of sober activity centers, including dry cafes, are popping up across the country to meet this social need.
These social outlets are a great alternative to spending all night in the bar getting drunk. Individuals who attend these cafes spend time playing games, watching movies, interacting socially, and learning more about their friends. As a result, they improve as people and better understand themselves and others.
Start Exercising Every Day
Exercise is something that everybody should be doing every day. However, those going through addiction recovery, in particular, need to introduce physical activity into their lives as a way of staying sober. For example, the study “Aerobic Exercise for Alcohol Recovery: Rationale, Program Description, and Preliminary Findings” took a look at how working out could help a person overcome alcohol addiction.
Throughout the study, the researchers found that exercise helped an individual create a new focus in their life that took over from their reliance on drinking. In fact, this study went so far as to say that exercise not only had effects similar to many pharmacological treatments but that it had fewer adverse effects and almost no side effects when compared to psychotropic drugs.
The benefits exercise provide include an increase in pleasurable states – including increased release of dopamine – usually triggered by drinking, positive activity alternatives to drinking, improved mental health symptoms, reduced stress, bettered coping abilities, and a decreased desire to drink. An article by CNN stated the basic approach rather bluntly: replacing addiction with a new “healthy obsession” provided individuals with an outlet for their cravings and trigger impulses.
Obviously, an individual going through treatment for addiction can’t jump on a treadmill and expect instant sobriety. Instead, they should use various forms of exercise as a coping mechanism for their cravings and relapse triggers. Pairing exercise with the other methods mentioned above – and high-quality professional rehab – provides the best chance of staying sober for the rest of your life.
Get Help From Professionals
If you have just finished rehab and need help staying sober, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for help. Our professionals can help you better understand the tasks listed above and the ways that they can help you better cope with the PTSD, depression, anxiety, and trauma related to your drug use.
Just as importantly, we can help you detox if you relapse and provide the dual-diagnosis necessary for overcoming your reliance on substances like Xanax, benzos, opiates, alcohol, and methamphetamine. This multifaceted program takes care of all the physical, emotional, and behavioral factors of addiction.
With our help, your recovery and treatment will be more effective, and your mental health will improve. And, ultimately, beating the mental, physical, and behavioral reliance on drugs is the best way of staying sober for the rest of your life. So please let us help you achieve the clean life that you deserve.