It’s a new year and for many people out there, that means making resolutions to change. But this time, you may have decided to do something a bit beyond the norm. As you rang in 2018, you did not vow to stop eating junk food. You did not make a promise to your running shoes, or to start carrying your own, recyclable shopping bags to the store. No, you decided to go big, to do something meaningful – to do something that you can (and will) commit to. And you decided to do it without a champagne toast.
This year, I want to learn how to live sober, to commit to a drug-free lifestyle, and to be happy living it.
There’s no doubt that Americans often view the New Year as a fresh start. In fact, approximately 40 percent make New Year’s resolutions with motivation to change. Interestingly enough, however, only 8 percent of Americans manage to keep and commit to their resolutions throughout the entire year. This is typically a result of (1) unrealistic resolutions/expectations or (2) a lack of discipline and motivation.
But being in addiction recovery is different. In a drug rehab program, there is structure, there is routine, and there are people who are like you and behind you, motivating you and supporting your choice to live sober each and every day. This structure and support – in combination with thoughtful, personal goals – are the driving force behind the recovery process.
Setting Goals for Sobriety
The key to successful, sober living lies in setting goals. The day you decide to get sober and live sober is the day you regain control in your life. Take time to assess your life now and your readiness to change. Do you believe you have potential to succeed? What does personal success mean to you? What do you want to accomplish now, this year, and in the future?
At Turnbridge, we believe that goals give us purpose. Big or small, they drive us forward. They serve as the roadmap to our future – towards college, a successful career, healthier relationships, physical strength, emotional and spiritual health. Unlike New Year’s resolutions, personal goals are not typically dropped off or left behind. They are consistently there at the top of our minds.
That is why, instead of creating a list of rigid New Year’s resolutions that must be accomplished this year, we recommend creating a list of personal goals that you can work towards in 2018 and beyond. Do not limit yourself to a New Year’s oath. Do not let resolutions define your year. Instead, decide how you will define yourself in 2018. If sober life is your number one goal, make it your goal every day – not simply for the year, but rather, one day at a time.
Be Patient & Take it Slow
Healing, whether that be from a broken arm or from drug addiction, takes time. You must be patient. Drugs are powerful chemicals that physically alter the brain. Your mind and your body will need time to get used life without drugs. Living sober will be uncomfortable and awkard at first. It will not be easy.
That is why, if you are new to sobriety, it is important to take each day at a time. For your first few months in recovery, make sobriety your number one goal each day. Get through each day without a drink, smoke, hit, dab, what-have-you. Once you accomplish that, you can feel ready to take on the next. By structuring your goals this way, each day, you will be constantly find success.
Make a To-Do List, and Plans to Do It
Setting goals plays a major role in the recovery journey. However, you must also make plans to work towards those goals. If your main goal is stay sober, make sure that attending regular 12-step meetings or support groups is on the top of your to-do list. Go to those meetings religiously. If you’ve added some other goals to your list, such as getting healthy, you may also add in items like grocery shopping, cooking a nutritious dinner, and going to the gym. Make your to-do list a part of your routine, and stick to it.
Once you’ve handled an item on your daily to-do list, scratch it off or note your progress on it. At the end of each day, look over your to-do list and make a list for the next. By doing this, you will gain a sense of accomplishment for the things you scratched off, as well as some direction for the next day.
Be sure to constantly update and revise your to-do list per your goals. If one of your goals is to enhance performance at your job, make it a point to wake up at a certain hour or respond to a certain number of emails per day. Don’t forget about your longer-term goals, too. Do you want to enroll in a college program? Incorporate things like applying to schools, or going to weekly night classes, on your to-do list as well. By consistently making plans for your sober life, you will live an accomplished, happy life.
Have Fun and Do Things to Make You Happy
Being in recovery does not need to be boring. Despite popular belief, sobriety does not mean you have to substitute girls’ night out for knitting club. You can (and should!) have fun. There are many benefits of sobriety, so do your best to make the most out of it. Every day, you should make a point to laugh out loud, to pursue something that interests you, something that is not on your to-do list. Try learning something new that you’ve always wanted to, like rock climbing or ukulele. Take a painting class. Get out and get involved. Enrich your spirit by connecting with nature, meditating, or taking a yoga class.
Surround Yourself with Supportive, Sober People
One of the most important sober living tips is building a support network – people who are also living drug-free, who support your decision to live sober, and who you can call on when you need to talk. At Turnbridge, we encourage clients to start building their sober network the day the come through our doors. We believe the connections made in rehab that are some of the most fulfilling – while everyone has a different addiction story, they are all there for the very same reason. They enter each day with the same goal in mind: to make a positive change in their lives, and to continue to live sober.
If you are just learning how to live sober, it is ever important to know that you are not alone. There are people in similar shoes as you, who also desire to make a positive change. You can find these people through a drug treatment program like Turnbridge, or simply by pursuing sober activities and joining support groups in your area – for example, a church group or a group of athletes who choose not to drink. They may be sitting next to you in your 12-step program or living in your sober dorm. Find friends who understand your struggle, and unlike your past drug-using buddies, will encourage you to succeed.
At Turnbridge, the young men and women in our sober living program are all considered unsung heroes. With great strength and bravery, they have all made a considerable, yet often unacknowledged, change to better their lives and the lives of the ones they love. If you believe you are addicted to alcohol or drugs, or believe there’s a need to get sober, you too have the potential to make this change. You have the power to get sober and to live sober, too.
Whether you have goals to get (and stay) sober, are just starting out in recovery, or have just completed a drug rehab program, know that we are here for you. Beyond teaching you how to live sober, we can also show you how to live happily sober, without the burden of drugs. Contact us at 877-581-1793 to learn about our sober living homes for young women and men.