Your old drinking buddies invite you over to watch the big game. Co-workers ask if you want to celebrate birthdays at a local bar. An unexpected bill creates stress that won’t go away. How will you handle these temptations? Whether you’re celebrating a week or a dozen years of sobriety, I can guarantee you will face temptations to drink or use. You need tools that help you stay strong.
Meet Regularly With an Addictions Counselor
A professional addictions counselor will walk with you as you seek to remain clean and sober. From learning to address your triggers, to handling friends who pressure you to use, your counselor serves as your ally. He or she will also assist you in changing your mindset. Literally change your mind toward substances when you meet regularly with an addictions counselor.
Training the Brain to Avoid Temptation – Psychologist Dr. Sian Beilock shares results of a study that found improved cognitive function and working memory reduce an addict’s need for drugs and alcohol.
Find Positive Stress Relievers
Your method of handling stress in the past was to use drugs or alcohol. Alternative stress relievers that are positive will help you stay clean. For example, take a walk instead of drinking after work; or, start enjoying a hobby, like painting, baking or construction. Go back to school and earn an advanced degree or take classes for fun. Meditation and yoga also clear your mind as you handle stress in a productive way.
Keep a Journal
Track your emotions, triggers, and successes in a journal. Write in it at least once a day as you resist temptation and stay strong.
Find New Friends
I know it’s hard to turn your back on friends, but if they’re still using, they are no longer healthy and may be unable to fully support you in staying sober. It’s time to find new friends who value and respect your decision and determination to stay clean. To find healthy friends, get involved in your community, neighborhood, and church.
Join a Support Group
In the wild, predators typically attack lone and weak animals. Increase your chances of staying strong when you join a support group and stay connected to people who understand, can relate to your struggles, and will listen whenever you need to talk about your emotions, feelings and temptations.
Avoid Old Haunts
Staying strong may require you to make tough choices not only about who you choose to associate with, but also about the places you go. Your favorite club is not a smart place to hang out, but if it’s on your drive home from work, you may even need to change the route you take home. Drastic measures like that assist you in resisting temptation. Avoid temptation by avoiding those triggers.
Help Someone Else
Looking beyond your needs to the needs of others can be therapeutic and strengthening as you stay clean. Volunteer at a nursing home, walk dogs at the animal shelter, or serve meals at a homeless shelter as you resist the urge to use. Filling the void of drugs and alcohol can help the healing process and offer a new perspective on your own life situation.
Join a Sober Sports League
Playing or watching sports and drinking or using may have defined your former life, but with sobriety comes the chance to change previous habits. Join a team of non-drinkers who respect your decisions and enjoy the game without using.
Remember, It’s a Journey
Staying clean isn’t a dash to the finish line. You can be sober for years, make one slip up and land back in an active addiction. To stay clean, you need to continue making wise choices every day and realize that this process requires a lifetime commitment.
Maintaining sobriety is possible and I hope that as you use my suggested tips and resources, you’ll discover your strength and resolve strengthening. You may need to make severe changes, but the effort is worthwhile – you are worthwhile.