If you have a drinking problem and you are considering taking treatment, or have already taken treatment and have graduated into addiction recovery, there are several things that you can do to avoid drinking and to stay sober.
Understand that addiction is a disease: Remembering that addiction is a disease is critical to your success at staying sober. When you understand that alcoholism / addiction is a disease, instead of a lack of will power, it is easier to understand the real risk that is present from engaging in addictive behaviours. You can understand that no matter how ‘in control' you feel, having just one drink, is not actually a possibility for you – alcopholism / addiction is an actual disease and needs to be treated as one.
Understand that it takes support to avoid drinking: Staying sober long term means relying on support from others. Such support can take many forms, such as family and peer support. Asking someone who is familiar with your recovery goals will ensure that you find support that is aligned with your goals for sobriety and recovery. And don't be afraid to communicate what you need from your friends, family and other supportive people that you have in your life.
Undertand that others have recovered: Facing sobriety can be an isolating experience, which is why it is so important to understand that others have recovered from similar circumstances. Many recovery programs use some form of group therapy, in which one benefits from hearing of others' struggles and triumphs over addiction. Many addicts in recovery go online to engage with other addicts from all over the globe. Knowing you're not alone makes staying sober easier.
Master your mind. Keep it occupied: Staying sober is highly influenced by the thoughts and feelings that you have. For this reason, it is essential that you master your mind. Keep track of your moods, feelings and thoughts. When you notice that something feels off, it's your signal that you need to change something. “Thinking errors” that are part of your addiction, are likely to result in unpleasant emotions. One example is all-or-nothing thinking, a perspective that either has you winning completely, or failing miserably. Thinking errors like this can derail your plans for staying sober.
Whether you have always had a creative urge, or you think of yourself as “not a creative type,” stepping into creative space is a great way to recharge, recuperate, and connect with what really matters. Have a pen and paper? You can doodle right now! Or you can get some paint, grab a musical instrument, or even check out apps on your mobile device.
One of the most direct ways to break negative thinking patterns that come about is present mindfulness. There are a range of techniques which fall under the umbrella of mindfulness. This practice helps support your need for staying sober in the following key ways: when you are mindful, you can, first of all, remember your intention to stay sober. This is big! Many times you can get so caught up in life that you easily slide into old behaviors. The same is true for old thought patterns: one thought can easily lead to another, but with mindfulness, you can consciously choose thoughts which benefit your sobriety.
Care for your body: Go to the gym, head to the pool, or simply put on your shoes and go for a brisk walk. Physical activity is great for clearing out your mind and staying sober. What's more, you can combine this with tip number 2 and do some exercise with a friend… maybe even a group of friends if you are into a group sport.
Keep yourself busy. Distract yourself: Get out your calendar, circle a day, and decide you are going to treat yourself. Go somewhere you've always wanted to visit or do something enjoyable you've been putting off. Get creative! You'll find yourself counting down the days with anticipation.
Help someone in need. If you find that you are overly preoccupied with your own problems of staying sober, a great way to put them in perspective is to help others who are in need. You can help other people in recovery, or find other places in your community, where you can support others. There are countless ways to help out, and when you help others, you make yourself feel good too.
Sometimes, you can overthink your problems. Find some ways to healthily get out of your thinking patterns. Movies, music, books, and other entertainment help to get your mind away from addictive behaviours and life stress.
Look around you now. What can you do to make the space better? You could clean, organize, or make an improvement of some kind. Improving your space here and now is a powerful way to feel good about yourself… and have a better environment to live in!
Eat good food: When you eat good, nutritious food you feel good. This positive mood will help you make healthy choices. Take the time to find food that truly nourishes you, or find an interesting cookbook and make a homemade meal and enjoy the time spent cooking.
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