If you’re coming into 2018 with high hopes for the future, you’re not alone. Each year, millions of Americans set resolutions for positive changes. While many are superficial, some, such as making the choice to leave a life of drugs and alcohol behind, are life-changing and require a true commitment. If you’ve made it this far into the year, you’re already on the right track. Keep reading for advice on how to keep moving toward the life you’ve always wanted.
Your addiction likely started with small, individual actions that snowballed into a bad situation. Likewise, your recovery efforts begin by making one good decision at a time. You might start, for instance, by identifying positive and negative influences in your life. This might mean not spending time with past acquaintances, altering your commute to and from work so as to avoid driving by your favorite bar, or picking up a new hobby to keep your hands and mind busy.
Other small changes you can make have to do with learning coping skills and managing your health and well-being. A healthy body leads to a healthy mind, and a healthy mind is less likely to crave drugs and alcohol to feel better. Coping skills you can practice include learning how to say “no,” which can help you feel more in control. According to Inc., having a strong sense of control is one positive life skill associated with health, happiness, and success.
A clean slate
Sometimes, small changes aren’t enough or they are just enough to push you in the direction of more drastic changes. When you exit rehab, it’s important to have a home where you feel safe and protected against outside factors. Redfin explains, “You’ll want to find a place that helps you create a healthy, consistent routine without throwing you into the paths of old triggers. You’ll also want a loving environment to rebuild your relationships and bond with your family, a place where you can heal and focus on your recovery.”
Unless you work from home, moving may also require another major change in the form of a new career. You could consider going into business for yourself or using what you learned in recovery for the benefit of others as a recovery coach or peer counselor. If your current job is a significant source of stress—which is a known relapse trigger—look to new industries or opportunities that allow you to use your strengths and skills.
Support and motivation
Recovery is a lifelong process; it is a lifestyle that requires a conscious effort to maintain. Fortunately, it is a lifestyle that encourages positive interactions with yourself, your family, and your support network. In addition to 12-step and group-centered therapy programs, your recovery may also include support and motivation from unexpected places.
Volunteering at a local homeless shelter, your children’s school, or church food pantry is an excellent way to keep yourself motivated to remain a productive member of your community. If you want to carry your motivation with you at all times, you and a loved one might consider matching friendship bracelets with messages of support and encouragement. When you’re feeling weak, you can use this small talisman to remind you that you are not alone and that you are fighting for a greater good: sobriety.
Your life is just that: yours. You are free to live it on your terms. Whether you make small changes to your routine or uproot your entire family in favor of a fresh beginning is up to you. As long as your changes are for the better, there is no wrong way to take control of your future.