Finding Determination to Live Sober

In a 2007 edition, The Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment describes addiction recovery as a voluntarily maintained lifestyle epitomized by sobriety, personal health and citizenship. The early days of recovery might seem difficult, but there is good reason to find the determination to live sober. The recovery lifestyle produces positive changes, connections and opportunities that extend well beyond the physical benefits of sobriety. Being determined will not eliminate potential setbacks and struggles, but it will help you focus on the day-to-day business while fostering faith in a positive future. Recovering addicts can hone determination by remembering the benefits of recovery, the consequences of relapse and the life tools that help them succeed.

Positive Benefits of Recovery

In a 2009 edition, The Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment argues that addiction treatment is often essential for recoveries, but treatment alone does not sustain sobriety. The process of getting and staying clean involves several goals that rehab initiates, but goals users must continue working on in aftercare. For instance, users must take the following acts to avoid relapse:

  • Implement life tools like anger/stress management, conflict resolution and positive coping approaches
  • Learn relapse-prevention strategies to avoid and neutralize high-risk situations and substance-craving triggers
  • Pursue meaningful activities, healthy social relationships, a restored home life and positive recreational interests everyday

If treatment is about pulling out weeds and planting healthy seeds, then the recovery process is about watering the seeds and cultivating growth. When someone stays determined in recovery, the following benefits may occur:

  • Misinformed stigmas about addicts no longer have any influence or effect
  • A period of self-redefinition transcends shame and rebuilds relationships
  • Mental health continues to get better and provide more stable mood levels
  • Attitude, outlook, faith, confidence, optimism and self-image make positive gains
  • Cognitive functions like memory, decision making and focus steadily improve
  • Social ties strengthen among friends, family and newfound recovery partners
  • Enjoyment and fulfillment from previously loved hobbies begin to return
  • Life skills and strategies soon become second nature, which elevates all areas of life

The recoveries grow and strengthen through determination and consistency, so individuals will see quality of life improvements, such as independence, social support networks, physical/mental health, positive citizenship, restored relationships and a new life in the community.

Risks of Addiction Relapse

As noted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse in 2008, recovery is better the longer sobriety lasts, which means that recovering addicts grow and mature in ways that make substance abuse lose its influence and appeal. In fact, the NIDA notes that two-thirds of individuals who stay sober for more than a year stay that way, and the percentage increases to 86% for people who reach the three-year mark. The study adds that recovering addicts who achieve five years of sobriety rarely relapse. The cravings might seem intense during the first year, but remember that it will get easier as the recovery continues to grow.

Conversely, recovering addicts can also boost their sobriety by recognizing the risks associated with relapse. Many people believe that they can use drugs just one time, which often leads to binge use in anticipation of reengaging a recovery. Both situations involve physical health risks since tolerance levels likely decreased and lead to a lower threshold for overdose. Between the decrease in tolerance and the binge use, recovering addicts have higher rates of overdose when they relapse, and the substance effects are often more pronounced. Decision making, risky conduct (e.g., driving drunk or high), aggressive behavior and mental health relapse can all follow.

If a relapse happens, then speak with your recovery sponsor and/or counselor immediately for help. Furthermore, additional treatment is often the best course of action to correct relapse. Many recovering addicts experience relapse during the first year, but it is important to learn from the experience, lean on support structures and set new recovery goals.

Tips for a Sober Lifestyle

Getting sober is about avoiding drugs, but recovery is about taking positive steps to make abstinence a long-term reality. In addition to understanding the benefits of recovery and the risks of relapse, recovering addicts can cultivate determination with the following tips:

  • Focus on small achievable steps and take pride in any measure of achievement
  • Anticipate plateaus and struggles with strategies to work through them
  • Understand the importance of social support networks and finding a recovery sponsor
  • Encourage family counseling in situations where unhealthy dynamics seeped in
  • Immediately ask for help whenever needed and admit to mistakes when they occur
  • Do not allow yourself to entertain negative, pessimistic or self-defeating thoughts
  • Ask friends, loved ones and recovery partners to watch for warning signs

Have faith in the future, but focus on the next step and take care of the day-to-day business first. There are no shortcuts in recovery, but there are certainly positive outcomes for those who stay determined.

Addiction and Recovery Support

People who struggle with addiction or recovery should call our admissions coordinators for help; our staff are available 24 hours a day at a toll-free helpline to answer questions and recommend treatment. They can even check health insurance plans for benefits if additional treatment is necessary. Do not delay getting help—if you or a loved one needs assistance, please call us now.

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