Recovery is a beautiful journey. It’s one of the most loving things you’ll ever do for yourself. When you’re new in sobriety, trying to blend your old life with the new can sometimes be a difficult balancing act. Changing people, places and things is necessary in the initial phase of recovery or when you’re feeling emotionally overwhelmed by life’s challenges. These things can subtly become triggers that lead to a relapse. Change is never easy—it’s a day-by-day process. Here are a few tips to help you on your way.
Bars, clubs and concerts are slippery places when you’re new, especially if they played a big part in your using career. That’s not to say you can't go to these places ever again. But when you’re new in recovery or not in a good place emotionally, you have no business being there. For less rowdy events such as gatherings or weddings, make sure to bring a sober friend. If you’re not sure about an event, you should run it by your sponsor or someone else with sober living experience. Frequenting slippery places will only leave you feeling like an outsider as you watch other people drink. It's a silent form of torture and a setup for relapse.
There's a saying in the rooms of recovery: “If you go to the barbershop enough times, eventually, you’re going to get a cut.”
Just because you can no longer frequent your past haunts doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun in sobriety. A lot of meeting halls and support groups sponsor sober dances, events and other activities. So, get involved and find out what's going on in your area. Life isn’t over—in fact, it’s just the beginning. Take this time as an opportunity to explore things that you’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t because getting high got in the way. Take a class, go hiking or find a new hobby. Once you begin to consider the possibilities, you’ll discover a life that’s limitless.
“Get high buddies” should be cut off immediately. Don’t forget: your recovery is your responsibility. You may have friends who’ve been in your life for years but if those relationships revolved around drinking, you’ll need to back off. If they’re your real friends, they’ll understand and want to see you make positive changes in your life. Of course, there are some people you can’t stay away from, like family members. Some are especially gifted in bringing up the past and knowing just the right buttons to push to start a fight or heated discussion. These interactions can lead to feelings of remorse and anger—or another trip to the liquor store.
To better manage interaction with difficult people, keep conversations to a minimum and focus on the present. Avoid getting drawn into fights or rehashing the past. Go to meetings and share about the challenges you’re facing in these situations. You’ll be surprised at the amount of help and understanding you receive. Others have also had to surmount the same challenges and they are glad to offer tips, strategies and suggestions. When you share about what's going on, it takes the power out of negative thought patterns and feelings.
It’s amazing how the simplest thing can become connected to drinking or using. Perhaps you drank while listening to music for hours on end. Or maybe there’s a certain movie you watched while under the influence. These are great and normal things to do but, unfortunately, they are now distorted by the disease of addiction and cannot be done the same way.
If you’re a music lover, this doesn’t mean you can no longer listen to music. You just need to be more mindful of your thoughts and feelings while you listen now. Anything that can lead to romanticizing your using experience is probably not good for your recovery at this point. So be honest with yourself, keep an open mind and be willing to approach activities differently if it makes an impact on your sobriety. The reward will be well worth the effort.