I have been asked by people just getting into recovery what suggestions I have to help them stay sober. One thing that everyone has to understand, not just recovering addicts but also the people that love them, is that there is no cookie cutter way to stay sober. What works for one might not work for another. I think that’s why I love NA, they show you the way that your life could be and they help you get there. But it’s up to you how you do it, you get to choose your higher power, you get to work the steps your way and figure out what they mean to you.
I can’t tell people how to do it, but I can share what has worked for me and what I have learned along the way though NA, other recovering addicts, and the things that I have faced.
What has worked for me and what I have learned:
· Be open-minded! When I was in my active addiction I wanted things done my way and that was it. There was no compromise and there was no other way. If it didn’t go my way there was hell to pay. But by being open-minded you can listen to others suggestions and apply them to your life if need be. Also being open-minded helps with your stress level, I know that from experience J
· Get a program. Preferably 12 step based. I choose NA. Most people are scared of NA because of the “religious” aspects. People let me tell you NA is not religious, it is spiritually. There is a big difference. You choose your higher power, whatever it may be, yes mine is God, but that doesn’t mean that yours has to be. A higher power is just something bigger then yourself. I know people who their higher power was the group itself, for some it’s nature; there are many other things that a person can choose as there higher power but it’s up to that person and what works for them.
· Start a schedule and get some structure. That is one BIG thing that I learned worked for me! My life in my active addiction was so chaotic and jumbled that when I got sober I had no idea what to do with my “free time”. When I got out of prison I started doing little things at the same time every day. For example reading my daily devotional every morning. Yes, my schedule has changed over time, but I still have it and it keeps me from feeling lost.
· Set a goal. This is something that I am just now learning and doing. I feel like I am doing everything in my life that I can do right now and that it is going to stay the same forever. It’s not, that’s just how I feel. So I have set 2 goals for myself this year. 1) Lose 42 pounds, this is something that I can work on every day, and 2) Start school, I have put in my application for UCM (a college in this area) and am waiting to hear back from them.
· Don’t be afraid of the slump. This again is something that I am learning and dealing with right now as I type. Everyone that I talk to in recovery has had a slump but it’s not the end of the world or your sobriety if you don’t want it to be. I had to think about what got me into the slump in the first place and what I can or have to do to get out of it. My problem was my schedule, it had changed and I wasn’t doing everything that I knew that I had to do and I was beating myself up over it. Beating yourself up over something does no good! You have to look at it see what you can do to change it and get over it and move forward! I looked at my schedule seen what I NEEDED to do and started doing it, actually I just started it over again this past Monday. This week I have felt better than I have in a long time. I have energy and know what I need to do though-out the day and it gets done. Josh and I were talking about this the other day. He said something that I thought was great and that I needed to hear. Josh said “If we miss something on your schedule that doesn’t mean our whole day is wasted, we just have to pick up where we are now and go from there.” I like that, and that’s something that I have to remember daily.
These are just things that have helped me these past 17 months and that I need to remind myself of. It really helps to write them down.
What are some of the things that have helped you stay sober?