What does it really take to get sober and stay sober? If you talk to several people in recovery, you may get several opinions. Some will emphasize the importance of a sponsor or attending a lot of meetings. Others will insist that they couldn’t have gotten sober without the religious undertones of Alcoholics Anonymous.
In the end, only you can decide what tools will work for you as you carve out a path for a sober life. Yet there are some things that are extremely important to just about everyone, even for people with very diverse approaches to their recovery. Here is a list of some of the most essential things to include in addiction recovery:
- Surround yourself with others who are committed to leading a sober life. Most recovering alcoholics or addicts find it very difficult to recover alone. As long as you surround yourself with other people who believe that being sober is an important choice, you have a good chance of attaining sobriety yourself. Your sober friends will offer you support and be able to understand what you’re going through, and they’ll be able to reach you when someone outside recovery circles can’t. Support for your recovery can also come from therapists, ministers or family members. Don’t try to go it alone.
- You need to be completely honest with yourself and those who are trying to help you. It may be second nature to lie to your spouse or your boss or family members or friends, but now it’s time to be honest. Then there are the lies you have told yourself. Sometimes it’s painful to face the truth, but it can be even more painful in the long run to avoid it. Don’t try to hide aspects of your personality or things you have done in the past that you are ashamed of. Memories or feelings you try to stuff will most likely come back to haunt you.
- Keep an open mind. Recovery programs have been in existence for more than half a century, and the concepts that are being taught have helped millions of people. Even though you may hear things that sound like they are too simple or things that sound like they won’t work, don’t close your mind or jump to conclusions. You don’t have all the answers, or you wouldn’t have ended up struggling to stay sober. By keeping an open mind, you may hear exactly what you need to hear to recover. You will be able to remain teachable, and you may be surprised to find out that having an open mind can be the key to turning your life around.
- Be willing to do the things that are suggested by others with more experience at staying sober. People at meetings are often heard saying, “If you want what we have, then do what we do.” It’s very important to be willing to do whatever it takes to stay sober. Yes, there will be things you would rather not do, but if you’re willing to face your demons and work through uncomfortable feelings, you will be well on your way to recovering from active addiction.
- Don’t pick up. As a recovering alcoholic or addict, the most essential thing you need to do is avoid picking up a drink or a drug — no matter what. You may make other mistakes, but as long as you don’t drink or drug, you give yourself a chance to have to get up and try again.
- Believe that you can do it. Once you have gotten through one day sober, you know how it’s done. Believe that better days are ahead and that you are going to live a good life sober. You may not recover as quickly as you would like, but you will continue to get better if you keep doing the right things. Recovery is a journey, not a destination. Whatever happens along the way, keep the faith that others have recovered from the deadly disease of addiction and you can too.