I’ve counseled hundreds of addicts, and keeping a journal can keep you clean as you travel the road to recovery. Why? Because there’s something about writing down emotions, thoughts, triggers, and events on paper that offers recovering addicts the opportunity to be honest and real. Whether you use a beautiful paper diary or type your thoughts on a computer, journaling can help you stay clean too, and here are a few reasons why.
The emotions you experience change almost by the minute, but they significantly affect your desires and decisions. If you’re not careful, your emotions can lead you back to your drug of choice.
Instead of ignoring or bottling anger, anxiety, sadness or fear, express these emotions on paper. Give yourself permission to be real emotional, and then let the emotions go. You’ll find greater stability and clarity when you journal about your emotions often.
The thoughts, social situations, or holidays that trigger your desire for drugs or alcohol also block your road to recovery. I help recovering addicts recognize their triggers, and I recommend you continue tracking yours as you seek sobriety.
In your journal, talk about how a birthday party invitation text made you crave a drink with friends. Discuss how your day went from bad to worse and tempted you to pop a few pills. Get real about how insomnia, chronic pain or tension with your spouse led to thoughts of using.
With your list of triggers, come up with a few ways to combat the cravings. Record the physical exercise, chat with a friend or quiet meditation that combated the triggers, and record the activities that don’t work. This data provides you with valuable information about your triggers and helps you achieve your recovery goals.
Recovery often involves a moment by moment decision to stay sober and you may not feel like you’re making any progress. Discouragement may set in.
Once you’ve kept a journal for a few weeks or months, you can read old entries and see how much you’ve grown. See the progress you’ve made, remind yourself of the times you felt like using but didn’t, read the insights you gained from sobriety meetings, and remember inspirational quotes from the books you’ve read. From this material, you receive the encouragement you need to continue your journey.
The journey to substance abuse recovery requires you to be honest with yourself and others. You can do just that in your journal. Express the junk, joys, failures and triumphs. Nothing’s off-limits. In fact, the more honest you are the better.
Then, I suggest you reach out to your support system. You don’t have to share your honest journaling with the entire support group, but select one or two confidantes to share with. They need to know the real you, and they want to help. Let them in as you walk together toward a clean and sober life.
I know the road to recovery isn’t easy. A journal, though, can be a great partner as you stay clean and sober. Use it every day to record all the ups and downs of your journey, and discover how honestly expressing your emotions and triggers can provide you with the encouragement you need to achieve sobriety.