Anyone who’s struggled with addiction wonders how to live sober and happy after treatment. It may seem that you’re one argument away from a relapse. There are so many myths about sober life being boring and unfulfilling, and it can be daunting for anyone. Around 80% of those who find long-term sobriety had at least one relapse. Some had other episodes before finding lasting recovery. A relapse can sneak up on you; most of the time, you don’t recognize the signs. However, research shows that you can find the path to long-term recovery and sobriety when you develop a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle. Keep in mind these tips on how to live sober and happy by following a balanced lifestyle.
1. Find New Routines
The most immediate change you can make is to move away from your previous routines. Hopefully, you developed new habits during rehab. But, building an organized structure that you can stick to can help you achieve goals and stay sober. When you have structure and a sense of progress, instead of chaos and misdirections, you’ll be less stressed and anxious. Routines that follow a set schedule can eventually help you develop healthy habits that will positively impact other areas of your life.
2. Build Healthy Relationships
Most people who struggle with drug and alcohol addiction have a hard time explaining healthy relationships. Even though many of those individuals helped you or saved your life, the truth is that most of these relationships were unhealthy and toxic. Unhealthy relationships aren’t always people who misuse substances or have addictive behaviors, anyone that you develop a co-dependent relationship with can be detrimental to your recovery. Sometimes, family members, friends, and even co-workers may enable your addictive behaviors without realizing it. According to science, maintaining these types of relationships increases your chance of relapsing. Maybe, a change of environment is what you need to find new, healthy relationships that will contribute to your long-term sobriety.
3. Develop Healthy Habits
On the subject of healthy alternatives, beyond your relationships, you have to change your habits. Sobriety isn’t about avoiding alcohol or drugs; it’s about finding happiness through a balanced and healthy lifestyle. Addictive behaviors can be expressed in other areas of our lives, for example, eating unhealthy foods, neglecting self-care, and not exercising. These are all unhealthy habits we develop throughout the years that must change. Turning your life around means engaging in activities that reduce stress, which can help you prevent relapse. Exercise and staying physically active can also reduce boredom. Overall, being physically active restores a sense of balance in your life that benefits your body as a whole and can have significant benefits for your mental health.
4. Make New Goals
Anyone recovering from substance abuse knows the importance of setting goals. You already conquered the biggest goal of all, achieving sobriety. Short and long-term goals drive us forward. Setting new goals gives us a roadmap into our future, whether that’s going back to college, getting a new job, emotional health, or finding new relationships. More than New Year’s resolutions, personal goals are not left behind. These are the things that are always at the top of your mind. A goal can be anything you want, however, use the SITA method to make sure you’re setting goals for yourself that you can achieve. Here’s what this means: S: Specific I: Intentional T: Timely A: Accountable A SITA goal would sound like this: “I will start eating one portion of vegetables at least three times a week, and I’ll let my roommate Tom know about my goal to keep me accountable.”
5. Find New Ways to Stay Calm
People who struggle with substance abuse disorder also deal with anger. While anger is a natural emotion, those in addiction recovery can find it challenging to express anger appropriately. One of the secrets to long-term sobriety and living a happy life overall is learning how to manage anger. After all, there’s no doubt that at one point or another, you’ll experience anger. Before, drugs and alcohol abuse were your outlets for managing anger. In sobriety, finding ways to stay calm is paramount to prevent a relapse. Many turn to activities like yoga, meditation, exercise, cognitive therapy, and other solutions to manage their anger. However, things like walking, baking, and listening to music, can all be effective trigger controllers. It’s a matter of finding what works best for you.
6. Discover Your Balance
Recovery can be as overwhelming as the addiction itself. Many end up substituting previous habits with new compulsive behaviors. Even when you find healthy habit such as exercise or dieting, following them with a compulsion that echoes addiction isn’t healthy. The idea is to find a new sense of balance. Slowly but steadily start gaining control over your life and choices. That’s why following a structured routine can be beneficial, as it can help you prevent falling for these unhealthy patterns.
7. Continue Learning about Preventing Relapse
Figuring out how to live sober and happy after dealing with substance abuse is a very personal journey. What works for someone might not work for you; addiction isn’t a one-way street, neither is recovery. There are hundreds of tools to stay clean and sober. Some might participate in group meetings, and others enroll in long-term aftercare programs. Both options are valid. What’s important is that you continue learning about relapse prevention. Keep talking to your support group, addiction therapist, sponsors, or whoever guides you through recovery. Remember, your needs in sobriety will continue to change as you evolve as a person. Your relapse prevention tactics must grow with you.
Finding Happiness in Sobriety
If you or someone you love is struggling with sober living, reach out to a drug addiction treatment center. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, for example, our aftercare treatment programs offer sobriety support way past our patient’s discharge days. Our addiction specialists know that recovery is a personal story and that no two stories are alike. We offer unique, personalized treatment programs designed with your needs in mind. We don’t believe in cookie-cutter solutions. Instead, we create comprehensive treatment programs that incorporate various therapies and approaches that support people through their recovery process and help them prevent a relapse in the future. We hope to help everyone in addiction recovery the ultimate tips on how to live sober and happy, well past their time in rehab.