So You’re Clean and Sober, Now What?
Congratulations! You are on your way to overcoming one of the biggest challenges of your life – addiction. The road was hard, wrought with emotional turmoil and tough decisions, but you persevered. You are walking taller, clean and sober, and ready to get back to it.
But now the question is, what is IT?
Getting back to what you were doing may not be the best idea. As is often the case, those things you were doing could have ultimately contributed to drug and/or alcohol abuse. Sobriety is not about just abstinence; it is about a completely different way of life. There are many, many sources of information and treatment options geared towards getting you clean and sober, but it is much harder to come by advice and guidance for moving forward after addiction, other than “don’t use.”
Being sober should not be about focusing on not getting high, it should be about LIVING, and LIVING WELL! The key to living well is hard work and responsibility which leads to a successful fulfilling existence . Sure, everyone has down moments and failures, but the trick is to keep the momentum forward. Happiness and success come from positive actions and optimism for the future. Being sober is the first step, but there are other behaviors and tendencies that will continue to facilitate your growth.
So, instead of “white-knuckling” your recovery, here are some examples of qualities which, according to Walden University, are largely shared by successful and happy people in this world:
- Passion – The drive to do what you do. Find something that you are passionate about and use this to drive fuel your activities.
- Optimism – A positive outlook on everything keeps you going. Keeping a positive outlook and a sense of optimism can help you through bad days and will make the good days even better.
- Persistence – Everyone fails, it’s about getting back up and trying again and again. If you have a worthwhile goal, go after it! Just because you encounter failures along the way, doesn’t make failure permanent. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from our failures. More often than not, you’ll find that persistence will pay off.
- Creativity – Think outside the box! There are many ways to express your creativity. Find creative outlets to practice this skill. When you encounter problems use your creativity to solve them constructively. If you look at a problem from the point of view of solving it through creativity, you’ll have an easier time solving it.
- Self-Discipline – Keep yourself accountable and honest! Self-discipline is a skill like any. It starts with the little things—keeping your space neat and things put away, cleaning up after yourself, making a schedule and sticking to it, fulfilling your obligations. Keep working at improving your self-discipline and you’ll find over time that it improves.
- Commitment to Learning – The second you think you know everything, you cease learning anything. Knowledge is power. Commit yourself to continually learning. If you are always working on improving your mind, you will continue to grow and you will also create more opportunities for yourself.
It is not very hard to see how all addicts are out of balance with at least one of these virtues. Working on these skills can be very helpful to remaining drug-free. These are what you fall back on when things do not go as planned, as life often does not. As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you make other plans.”
One more important factor in a happy, successful life is getting healthy. It is not necessary to become a gym rat or a food nut, but conscious eating and regular exercise are essential to anyone’s well-being. This can be especially true for the former addict. After years of abuse, it is time to treat your body right!
The old adage “you are what you eat” is still around for a reason. A healthy diet and portion control will go a long way in helping you feel better and keeping your mind sharp (medicalnewstoday.com).
Exercise and activity keep you focused and reinforce discipline, something paramount in maintaining sobriety and striving for success (cdc.gov). On that note, this is why treatment facilities may have rules such as “make your bed in the morning,” “lights out time,” or simple chores that help build the discipline and self-care needed to propel you forward in life. Exercise is a direct extension of this principle – sometimes it is hard to lace up those shoes and build up a sweat, but by pushing yourself even through a 15-minute workout, 3 or 4 times a week, it can make you feel like a new person, ready to take on the world, in no time!
Being sober is important, but what comes after is just as crucial. Immerse yourself in a new hobby, such as joining a gym or cooking your own meals, and work towards being a better version of you every day, in all endeavors. With these new ways of approaching your day-to-day living, sobriety will come with many rewards. The mountains you hurdled getting into treatment and taking that first step for the better will seem like rolling hills compared to the peaks you will now summit. The world is at your fingertips, ready for you to do whatever you desire in your pursuit of happiness and success!
See you at the top!
By James F.—Narconon Suncoast Graduate and Contributor
About the Author:
James is a musician, avid reader, and explorer. After traveling for most of his life, the most beautiful place he’s ever been is in recovery. He strives to show the beauty of life after addiction through self-love and healthy routine. His experience and love of others has provided hope for many of those still struggling.