Many addicts and alcoholics begin to feel comfortable within their sobriety when they are in the safety of a rehab facility. Treatment provides a space for patients to focus solely on staying sober and working on getting to know themselves, but what happens outside of those four walls? It can be extremely hard to transition from having 24-hour supervision to living a normal life with adult responsibilities, all while being in early sobriety. This is why going to halfway, creating a fellowship within your recovery community, and going through a 12 step program are so heavily recommended.
1) Go to Halfway or a Sober Living home
Living on your own as soon as you leave treatment can be overwhelming. Going from being surrounded by other sober individuals, to having no accountability will sometimes allow negative thoughts to creep back in. The purpose of halfway houses and sober living homes are to keep the same sense of duty and safety as being in a treatment facility while you begin to re-gain responsibilities and become acclimated to living sober.
Sober living can provide you with the vital tools and social skills needed to fully benefit from the advantages of your newfound sobriety. While in a sober living home, you will have sober roommates who are also learning how to live the same lifestyle as you; this can provide a sense of comradery that will help you feel understood, and provide you with peers to get advice from when uncomfortable situations arise. When we were using, we usually did not sustain a schedule in order to complete our responsibilities promptly. Because of that, many sober living homes also require you to complete chores, attend 12 step meetings, and maintain a curfew in order to allow recovering addicts to grow accustomed to keeping themselves accountable. Taking this next step will provide you with an even more solid foundation for recovery and further ensure your ability to stay sober.
2) Find a Fellowship
It is common for newly sober people to feel alone and misunderstood, but all of those feelings can be avoided by creating a fellowship of like-minded people who can support you through the tough times. The easiest way to get connected in a fellowship is to attend AA, NA or other 12 step meetings. These meetings will arm you with the information and support you need to effectively prevent relapse and live a life of serenity. The sense of familiarity and acceptance that you can experience through connecting with other alcoholics and addicts is arguably one of the most rewarding aspects of being sober. Many people create friendships that develop into emotionally intimate relationships that last a lifetime and provide you with a second family. When you are going through a tough time, you can rely on the people in your fellowship for important advice and reassurance that could possibly save your life.
3) Complete the 12 Steps
When we get sober we often believe that removing the drugs and alcohol from our lives will solve all of our problems but unfortunately, that is not the case. Addicts and alcoholics use substances to calm the emotions and feelings that they don’t want to deal with, so when we remove those substances we need to find a way to handle our emotions in a healthy manner. The 12 steps were carefully crafted to teach us to learn how to handle situations as they arise and provide us with a higher power in order to give our lives purpose.
At the beginning of our journey through the steps, we focus on becoming informed on what caused us to want to numb ourselves and begin to deal with those issues with the help of a sponsor who has been in the exact same shoes as us. This is extremely important because if we don’t deal with these issues head-on, they can crop back up later and lead us back into the cycle of addiction. Once we know ourselves and our triggers, we can begin to clear up the wreckage of our past in order to make room for a brighter and happier future. Without the experience of going through the 12 steps, you risk living your life still plagued by your old emotions and traumas. We get sober in order to change our lives for the better, to re-build relationships that our addictions got in the way of, and to find a sense of purpose and meaning in life. The only surefire way to ensure long-term sobriety is to remove the bondage of your past and replace your character defects with positive characteristics of self, which is precisely what the 12 steps are intended to do.