There are days when your commitment to recovery will be stronger than others. Some days, it's just hard. If today is one of those days, it can be helpful to remember the flip side – what will happen if you do decide to drink. Sometimes thinking through the disadvantages of drinking will help you appreciate the advantages of staying sober.
Here are a few things that could go wrong if you choose to drink today, and what you can do to help overcome any thoughts of drinking.
1. You'll lose money.
Let's face it, drinking will cost you money, not to mention the other risks it opens up. Instead, list out the cost of drinking – even just for a day – and think through all the other things that amount of money could get you.
2. You'll put your relationships at risk.
Depending on what's happened throughout your struggles with addiction, it’s likely alcohol has damaged some relationships. Recovery helps you set these relationships straight. Today, if you drink, you could be putting those relationships at risk again. Instead, take a moment, think about the people you love –and the people who love you – and send them silent gratitude for their role in your life. When you feel like drinking, think about this list of people.
3. You won't be as productive.
Alcohol demands your time – and bogs down your energy. See that long to-do list you have? Consider it put to the backburner if you take a drink. Focus on how great it will feel to be productive, and remember the feeling of energy and productivity as you combat the urge to drink. Better yet? Pick an errand or project and cross it off your to-do list.
4. You might have a run-in with the law.
This varies from person-to-person, but if you're on probation or have had legal charges due to drinking or substance use in the past – don't even go there. Think about the consequences your drinking could bring and do a quick journaling exercise on how good it feels to be right with the law today. Say a prayer, meditate on the feeling and even call a support person or sponsor to help you process these thoughts.
5. It will negatively impact your health.
Alcohol impacts the liver, brain, gastrointestinal system, etc. If you've experienced addiction or your body has been damaged due to drinking, it's best not to take a drink. Instead, do a body scan. A moment of mindfulness, focusing on your body from your head to your toes, will bring you in the moment and will help you remember how you're feeling. Have gratitude for your body and its power to sustain your life – make a commitment to staying sober, keeping your body healthy for another day.
6. You might feel guilty.
While it's not good to regret the past or get stuck on guilt, drinking when you're in recovery can introduce difficult feelings or emotions. While a relapse doesn't mean you should give up on recovery, feel guilty or ashamed to get back on track, think about this today and make a conscious decision to keep living in recovery. Notice the feeling of being free of guilt or shame, and write down reasons this feels good. Remember, you can always come back to recovery after drinking or relapsing – but today, focus on the feeling of being free of any negative emotions.
7. It might interfere with your spiritual connection.
In recovery, having a spiritual practice or relationship with a higher power can be very important to many people. Because of guilt, shame and other feelings that are often associated with drinking or using, it might make you feel 'out of sync' spiritually. Instead, ask your higher power for peace, serenity and the strength to stay sober. Depending on your spiritual practice, meditation, yoga, or a walk in nature can help, too.
If you find yourself struggling with thoughts of using, it might be time to talk with a counselor, sponsor or recovery coach about putting together a relapse prevention plan. It's better to be prepared, especially in the early days of recovery.
As for right now in this moment, try these tips to stay sober. Meditate, pray and find an activity that will keep you busy. If there's one thing you won't regret, it's recovery for another day. Let the worries of tomorrow come tomorrow. Today, just be grateful for recovery.