I have struggled with sobriety for nearly half of my life. In my late teens and early 20’s, I started drinking just like everyone else was as we started college. I thought that my drinking was normal because I was constantly surrounded by friends and classmates who were partying just as much as I was. Looking back, I wasn’t really okay back then either, but it wasn’t until a few months after graduation that I realized my drinking habits were different than those around me. While everyone else was working on finding jobs and moving on with their lives, I continued to drink in excess and begun hanging around a group of people who did the same.
Eventually, my parents kicked me out of the house because they were sick of me staying out late at night and in bed all day instead of finding a job. The final straw came when I missed my younger sister’s high school graduation because I was too intoxicated for them to bring me along. Even after finding a job in telecommunications, I was still drinking throughout the day and into the night.
After waking up on the bathroom floor one morning, 6 years after my college days were behind me and my friends were getting married and having kids, it suddenly hit me that something had to change. I overcame my alcoholism after seeking alcohol addiction treatment in a rehabilitation program. The process was an emotional roller coaster and was painful at times. My first few days of treatment were spent in a medical detox center, where a team of physicians watched over me as I slowly rid my body of the poison I had been feeding it for so many years. After 6 months of dozens of therapeutic techniques and group counseling I left the treatment facility and have been learning how to cope with my sobriety since.
Here are the tips and tricks that I have learned over the years to stay sober in a not so sober world:
1) Find a Sober Network
What I lacked prior to getting the help that I needed was a sober network of friends that I could lean on for support. The majority of alcoholics and substance abusers tend to involve themselves with other people who have similar lifestyles. Being surrounded by the idea that substance abuse is normal establishes the idea that your own drug abuse is okay.
After I completed my rehab program, I transitioned into a sober living home to help ease my way back into the real world. That’s where I first learned about the importance of a sober network, as I quickly found that it was much easier to feel normal and stable when surrounded by a group of people who had gone through a similar struggle and were looking for the same outcome. Find a group of people who you trust have your best interest in mind. Get out and experience new things with people who share a common interest and don’t need a drink to let loose and have fun!
2) Avoid Trigger Situations<
What triggers the desire to use is different for everyone. Trigger situations are scenarios where a person in recovery feels the need to drink or use their drug of choice, most of which can be avoided when sober.
For me, I have a hard time going to the bars late at night. Even though most people can go out and have a good time with a few drinks, it isn’t easy for me to say no in these situations. I have come to terms with the fact that I will probably never get to go to a bar or club with my friends and have found other ways to spend my time that I have grown to love. Find something to replace your trigger situations and don’t look back.
3) Don’t Live in Fear of Relapse
It is easy to get caught up with the idea that every person in recovery goes through relapse and that it is part of the process. The days, months and even years after I left my treatment program, I felt like I was living in fear of the inevitable relapse. The truth is that not everybody relapses and letting go of this idea can be freeing. Live your best life by incorporating the skills that you are taught during treatment and therapy. You have the power to stay sober, so remind yourself of this daily!
About the Author
Nicole Tomlinson is a blogger and massage therapist who believes recovering from addiction is an endless journey. Through friends, family and professional help, she has turned her life around and was granted an opportunity to help recovering addicts through Pathfinders Recovery Center. She is committed to helping others find peace with their sobriety, as she continues to fight for her own.