How to Live Without Drugs: 7 Ways to Overcome Addiction
If you have ever struggled with an addiction to drugs or alcohol then you know just how hard it can be to turn your life around and get sober, once and for all. For a lot of people who are still living in an active stage of drug addiction and/or alcohol abuse, having fun without the use of drugs or alcohol seems to be out of the question.
While people who struggle with a substance abuse problem often have a laundry list of reasons that keep them from getting sober, such as no desire or denial that they even have a problem to begin with. One major and common excuse is that there is no way to live life and have funwithout the use of drugs or alcohol. Although it may feel that way for the majority of addicts, and those in the beginning stages of recovery, that just simply isn’t true.
For someone who has been living life under the influence of powerful, mind altering drugs, it may seem as though there is no other alternative, but there is a way to live life while sober and still have fun at the same time. That is not to say that sobriety will not offer challenges, but getting through them without the use of drugs or alcohol will become very rewarding. Those in recovery understand how important it is to have an enjoyable life while maintaining sobriety.
Work Out- Working out may not initially sound like everyone's idea of fun, but research has proven that physical activity reduces stress. Not only that but it also balances out the production of serotonin and dopamine, which are neurotransmitters commonly affected by drugs and alcohol. The stimulation of these through exercise naturally leads you to feeling happier. It is important to remember that working out can take on many forms, not just hitting the gym. Consider trying yoga, going swimming, or enrolling in a ZumbaIf you challenge yourself and are having fun, you are more likely to repeat the same activity.
Play a Sport- To some, the idea of working out or going to the gym is not something they may be willing to do, and that's ok. Another way to stay physically active is by playing a sport. Most cities have community leagues for baseball, basketball, soccer, volleyball, etc. The majority of these leagues can be found by visiting your local cities governmental website. These community athletics leagues help to incorporate physical activity while offering a social aspect as well.
Develop a Hobby- If sports or physical activity really just aren't your thing, then there are still ways to live without drugs or alcohol. One of the most helpful things to do for long-term sobriety is to develop a hobby, such as photography, cooking, reading, knitting, pottery, gardening, etc. Hobbies allow you to gain self-esteem and are naturally rewarding. They allow you to boost your motivation, improve a skill, and become better at something that you are interested in, which can be important in recovery as it gives you a little something extra to stay sober for.
Volunteer- The simple act of volunteering has been reported as one of the easiest ways to have fun while in recovery. Research suggests that nearly 94% of people reported having an elevated or improved mood after having volunteered. Not to mention, volunteering is probably the cheapest way a person can have fun, it often costs you nothing but your time. The simple act of giving back is very personally rewarding, and can become a pillar in someone's life. Volunteering also gives you the opportunity to meet new people, a lot of whom are also in recovery.
Take Classes- A lot of people in recovery state that drugs or alcohol kept them from pursuing higher education. Well, sobriety is the second chance to pursue that goal. Go back to college or attend some local community classes. It is never too late to go back to school, and oftentimes first time students, or returning students, qualify for grants and student loans. You can also take classes to improve a hobby, such as creative writing classes, cooking, or photography and gardening. Going back to school or taking classes is easily one of the best ways to live without drugs or alcohol.
Attend a Self-Help Group- Self-help groups are usually offered for free around the community. For those in recovery these often include Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Though they may not sound like fun at first, these are the preferred choices for those who are successful in their recovery. This is because they offer sober and social interactions. They often have sober activities outside of the group as well, such as barbecues or dances. This gives you the opportunity to meet new people and develop a good support system, which is important for long-term sobriety.
Meditation- To some, meditation is an important part of living life without drugs and alcohol. Meditation has been known to produce important changes to the structure and the function of the brain, helping to repair damage that may have been caused by the use of alcohol or drugs. It has also been shown to reduce stress and improve overall mental and physical health. It can also help to reduce depression and anxiety, which are common triggers for relapse. Meditation also increases spiritual awareness which can be extremely beneficial when learning how to live without drugs or alcohol.
These are just a few of the most common ways that others in recovery have found useful for their sobriety. There is life without drugs or alcohol, even though it may not feel like it to some. If you are someone you know is struggling with an addiction please do not hesitate to ask for help! We sincerely hope that you found this list useful and wish you the best in your recovery!
6 Common Triggers for Drug Use and How to Avoid Them
Once you have embarked upon the journey of getting clean, remaining sober can often times prove difficult, especially for those who have recently found sobriety or overcome addiction. While relapse can sometimes be considered part of the recovery process, by allowing us the opportunity to learn about the potential causes that may lead to unwanted drug or alcohol abuse, we hope to avoid them altogether by becoming more aware of some of the most common triggers associated with drug use and techniques to better cope with them.
If you have ever experienced a relapse, or are new to recovery, know that you are not alone, research suggests that between 40 to 60 percent of people who have recently undergone treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction will relapse within just one year of sobriety. https://health.usnews.com/wellness/articles/2017-04-24/why-do-alcoholics-and-addicts-relapse-so-often One of the ways to keep from becoming a member of this statistic is to pay attention to cues or situations that can lead to this unwanted drug or alcohol use, below is a list of 6 common triggers and some additional tools so that we can hopefully avoid them:
⦁ Negative Emotions
After having masked negative emotions with drugs or alcohol throughout the span of an active addiction, learning to cope with these emotions in a healthy way can be one of the most challenging fundamentals to sobriety. Beginning to sit with these feelings can cause uncomfortability and anxiety, especially when we have never confronted them before. Having a strong support system when we feel sad, confused or frustrated can help alleviate some of the stress that newly recovered addicts may experience. Joining a twelve step program and finding the right sponsor, seeing a new therapist or a counselor, and even going to a gym can be a great start in learning how to cope with these emotions in a healthier way. By allowing ourselves to feel these negative emotions and openly communicating them, our comfort level will begin to increase as we see that eventually these feelings do subside and that we had the strength to face them without the use of drugs.
⦁ Do you need to H.A.L.T.?
Emotions play a major role in recovery and getting to know your body is a key step towards remaining sober. Are you hungry, angry, lonely, or tired? Knowing when to listen to these feelings and having an action plan to resolve them will ensure that you are not reaching for drugs or alcohol and that you are giving your body what it needs instead. Try setting aside time for meal planning if you find that you get hungry around a specific time of day, practice good sleeping techniques before bed if you have trouble falling asleep or plan for an emergency cup of coffee if you begin to feel sluggish throughout the day. You can always attend a 12 step meeting or call a trusted friend, just by understanding these needs we can effectively avoid the trigger.
⦁ Dating and Relationships
Often suggested, but commonly ignored, is the advice to steer clear of any romantic involvement (no matter how casual) within the first year of recovery. There are many reasons why dating early in the recovery process should be avoided, addiction is a disease of emotion and new relationships come with many, they may begin to replace the substance and form an addiction of their own. Abstaining from any kind of sexual relationship when new to sobriety will assure that healthier coping mechanisms are being established instead of putting yourself at risk for relapse from the emotional stress of a new relationship. Also, by waiting till we are healthy enough as an individual to begin dating again will only increases the likelihood of finding a more suitable partner.
⦁ Times of Celebration
Birthdays, holidays, and other times of celebration are usually associated with positive emotions but when new to recovery it can be a trigger for drug use. It may not be realistic to expect that you can simply just skip going to all of these events but knowing what to expect when you get there can decrease the chance of falling back into old habits, especially when considering going to a place where drugs or alcohol may be involved. Many recovering addicts feel that they are able to control themselves and their addiction by "just having one", we know that this is a common misconception. By preparing yourself before the party, you can limit your exposure to these triggers, ask others in attendance what kind of substances will be there and have a support system set in place by bringing along a sober family member or friend who can help remind you how important your recovery is and deter you from any potential relapse.
⦁ Professional Success
Alternatively to negative emotions, positive experiences can also be a trigger for unwanted drug use. Have you just landed a new promotion at work or have you finally gotten that long sought after raise? Be careful not to fall back into the old mindset that you have somehow overcome your disease by attaining this accomplishment. A mistake often made by people in recovery is that they are now cured because an addict could have never cultivated this achievement. It is all too easy to want to go out and celebrate, just like old times, but we know by now that addiction doesn't just go away. Make sure that you keep your support system in place by sharing your thoughts and emotions with others in the event that you are headed for a relapse.
While having confidence in yourself during recovery is a good thing, becoming too confident can be a potential trigger and lead to a relapse, as many forget the importance of their recovery plan. It is easy to feel as though you have conquered your addiction as the day to day struggles of sobriety seem to lessen but reminding yourself that you are still susceptible to triggers can go a long way in continued sobriety. Staying in contact with your sponsor or therapist, attending regular meetings, and staying humble about your addiction are essential to a life of sobriety. If you find yourself getting complacent or feeling as though you are now above your addiction, consider mentoring someone who is newer in their path to recovery and remind yourself that staying sober requires a conscious daily effort.
We know that sobriety is a lifelong journey and that it will require hard work on a daily basis in order to sustain, no matter where you are in the process. Staying vigilant to your recovery plan and maintaining a good support system lessen the chances of giving in to these triggers that may lead to an unwanted relapse. Take some time to think back upon instances where you felt triggered or had a craving to use drugs or alcohol and come up with your own plan of action to avoid them. Share them with your sponsor, a therapist or a trusted family member or friend in order to remain accountable for your recovery process!
How to Celebrate New Years Eve Sober. Tips for Recovering Addicts.
The holiday season for most recovering addicts can be the hardest time of the year, especially on New Year's Eve. Holidays in the United States are quite often characterized for their excess. Excessive partying, binge drinking, even excessive spending and worrying about debts and other responsibilities can cause a great amount of stress during this time of year.
As the year comes to a close, Christmas decorations are coming down and many people in recovery may be experiencing stress about the biggest party night of the year: New Year’s Eve. For many it is a conundrum of questions: avoid parties altogether? Or risk experiencing loneliness, guilt and shame by staying home alone? While there is no clear cut answer for these questions that would be suitable for everyone in recovery, there are positive and negative aspects to both of those strategies. Each one can release a unique set of triggers, so the best thing you can do is be prepared for either scenario.
Have a Plan to Stay Sober:
If friends are asking you to go to parties for New Years Eve, you may be fearful that the champagne toast at midnight may be too much temptation for you to resist. Maybe you’ll run into an old friend who you used to get wasted with. Or you could see a past lover for the first time since your newfound sobriety. Either way parties can set you up for temptations and triggers that many in recovery programs are not ready to overcome yet.
If you have plans to stay home alone for the big night, this could be a potentially stress-inducing situation as well. Leaving yourself alone and isolated when everyone else is being social and celebrating can cause negative thoughts and emotions, which can be triggers in and of themselves. The loneliness can lead toward guilt and shame, which is no fun to experience alone. Many tend to either romanticize their past substance abuse, only remembering the good times or beat themselves up over their past mistakes, suffering alone in grief while everyone else seems to be enjoying themselves.
Again, preparation is essential so you are not caught off guard, without a plan. While many people experience major FOMO (fear of missing out) on New Year’s Eve, there are plenty of alternatives to celebrating with alcohol and drugs. Think about how good you'll feel on the first day of the new year, if you aren't in bed all day, nursing a nasty hangover. While that sounds like a positive plan, you should be mindful of your strengths and weaknesses in your recovery. It is a good idea to keep yourself away from potentially dangerous situations, so let’s explore some alternatives to celebrating the new year without alcohol or drugs.
Enjoy a night on the town.
Plan a night out with a close friend or relative that positively affects your mental stability and health. Go out to dinner, or a movie and enjoy time away from the house. These are good options because in these scenarios, drinking alcohol isn’t the primary focus of either of these activities. You could also go to an amusement park, grab a cup of coffee, or go to a fun kid’s attraction like miniature golf or a video game arcade. Many of these places don’t serve alcohol, but even if they did, you wouldn’t notice because the activities there are so much fun. Hanging out with people who understand your struggle and your desire to remain sober is key.
Enjoy a night at home.
You don’t want to isolate yourself alone on New Year’s Eve, so take the chance and invite people over to your house to play games, watch movies or even eat some really good food. Staying in with friends or family will definitely help you keep your mind off of partying on the biggest party night of the year. Just make sure you have good company to keep your night a positive one. If you do not have anyone to come over, make a plan to have someone to talk to if you need it. This could be a sponsor, friend or relative who cares about you.
Volunteer for a local charity.
If you don’t have anyone to come over or spend your evening with, this would be a great opportunity to help your community. You might even meet other like-minded people in the process. Volunteering your time can have a very positive impact not only on your community but on your mind and soul as well. There’s nothing as rewarding as helping someone who is less fortunate. If you love animals, many animal shelters accept help with people coming to walk dogs and pet cats. These activities help the animals maintain social skills while they await adoption. Spending time with pets is also going to make you feel good as well.
If you do find yourself going out with friends to a party, or any place where alcohol is served, there are some things you can do to help you get through the night sober. Bring your own drinks to the party and always have a non-alcoholic beverage in your hands. This will greatly help reduce the temptations that may come up at a social gathering. Being prepared with an exit plan is another good strategy to help keep you sober during the new year’s celebration. It is important to remember that you are responsible for your own sobriety. If triggers surface at the party or a bar, do not be afraid to simply leave.
Being honest with yourself and your needs throughout your recovery journey is essential to continue working the program. Having a plan is an essential component of any successful sobriety. Be mindful of relapse and have a relapse prevention plan in mind. Let your friends and family know when you need help. Devise a comprehensive relapse prevention strategy and do not be overcome with temptation.
Looking at your recovery during times of celebration can help you maintain your sobriety and keep you away from drugs and alcohol. If you need help throughout any step of the process, do not hesitate to call us. We are here for you 24/7.
Tips For a Recovering Addict During the Holiday Season
You’ve heard of black Friday, but what about blackout Wednesday? That’s right, the holidays are often the most inebriated times of the year for many Texans. Overindulgence is common and the holiday season presents a unique challenge for people who are recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction. As people get into the holiday spirit, they often pay little attention to how much alcohol they are consuming. Many former drug addicts are faced with temptation as they go home for the holidays. It is a time of year where you may run into an old friend whom you used to use with. Many people make the excuse that: “I’ll just use this one time, it’s a special occasion!”
With more parties occurring between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, it is no wonder overindulgence is commonplace.
While the holiday season can be fun and festive, it can also be the source of a lot of stress for many people. The stress can be attributed to financial responsibilities conflicting with the generosity of the season or the stress of dealing with family members and friends you may not have the best relationships with in the past. Many people also experience SAD, or seasonal affective disorder, which is due to the lack of sunlight and warmth with the shorter days. This has physical and psychological implications for a multitude of reasons in different types of people.
As a recovering addict, it is a difficult time of year to watch family and friends indulge in alcoholic beverages and in some cases prescription and illicit drugs. If you are in recovery, there may be a sense of guilt or embarrassment associated with your past substance abuse. You may feel that your loved ones will think of you differently, and judge you for your personal struggles. This may be the source of a lot of stress for a person in recovery around the holiday season.
As your past has likely shown you, using drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism to deal with all these sources of stress may be a familiar, easy way out. As you feel the temptation and see others indulge, (or overindulge) just know that you are your own source of strength. Perhaps you’ve just made it through a period of time in sobriety. Your own resistance to temptation will be tested and you have the power to remove yourself from difficult situations or simply say no to a friend or family member who presents you with an opportunity to use again.
There are simple, effective ways to deal with these temptations and prevent a potential relapse.
You can avoid the relapse mentality with a set of specific techniques and ideas that we hope will keep you safe and sober this holiday season.
Avoid the “just have one” mentality. This is a slippery slope that many in recovery know they can’t handle the just have one drink, one line, or one hit without reverting to a full blown substance abuse.
Limit the likelihood of experiencing depression or loneliness. Sometimes when surrounded by your close friends and family can make you feel the most alone. Especially for someone struggling with substance abuse. In a lot of cases the toxic relationships with family members was one of the causes of your addiction. Many people simply do not have happy memories with their families. This can be a great source of pain that is brought up around holiday time as you make plans to see them again. Perhaps your family dynamic is what led you to abuse drugs or alcohol in the first place. If this is the case you should limit your exposure to anyone who was a negative influence in your life. Tell them upon arrival that you will not be able to stay long. This way if a problem arises, you can make your exit without feeling an obligation to stay to make someone else happy.
If you happened to have a problem with alcohol specifically, you should bring your own beverages to any party or gathering. Having a drink in your hand at all times is an easy coping mechanism to deal with the temptation to indulge in alcohol again. You shouldn’t leave it up to the host to cater to your special needs. Bring your own beverages. Maybe it could be a fancy coffee drink, or your favorite type of juice. Whatever you decide, make sure you have one in your hand at all times. This way people won’t ask to get you a drink and you wouldn’t be tempted in those passing moments.
Don’t go it alone. Take a friend or family member with you who understands your struggle and can help enforce your limitations. Make a plan early and discuss the plan with them. If a strong temptation arises have a signal that it is time to leave.
Offer to be the designated driver. If you think you can handle people using substances around you, this is a good way to help not only your friends, but also your community as a whole. There is a major increase in traffic accidents and DUI’s during the busy holiday season. If you can handle being around those who are drinking or possibly using drugs, offer them a safe ride. This will also give you a greater sense of purpose that may be just enough to help you resist temptations to indulge yourself.
Sweet treats are a common pacifier to help calm cravings. Sugar triggers the chemical reward system in the brain and can help you navigate temptations during family functions and parties. Exercise is another way to boost endorphins and help you minimize cravings.
The holidays should not be an excuse to relapse or let go of all your hard work in recovery. If you know someone who is struggling with addiction in Texas, look up More Than Rehab or a treatment center in your area to find out what programs are available to help you or your loved one. The holiday season is one of the most common times that relapses occur. Let’s help each other make it through this season, sober.