Some Americans are trying a new resolution this month: Dry January, a month-long break from alcohol with the goal to improve health. Others are working on long-term sobriety. If you fall somewhere in the continuum of abstinence, here are some tips for staying the course.
1. Identify the reasons you’ve chosen sobriety and keep them top of mind! It might help to write them out.
2. Find a new set of “coping tools” for stressful situations. When we are under duress, old coping techniques can resurface. Be ready for the challenging times with a list of alternative behaviors to turn to: like reading, journaling, going for a walk, exercising, or watching an uplifting show. Staying out of risky situations and avoiding triggers is important. For example, you may need to plan an alternate route home from work to avoid passing your favorite hangout.
3. Find support. It’s an integral part of maintaining sobriety. Have sober friends you can turn to when having a difficult day in recovery. Consider counseling or family therapy to repair relationships that have suffered as a result of substance use. If your recovery includes distancing yourself from old contacts, develop new social networks by getting involved with recovery groups. Some people choose to get involved in a place of worship or groups centered around hobbies or interests.
Supporting someone in recovery can be challenging, too. Here are some tips for being a support person.
1. Be accepting and understanding. Those who struggle with addiction are often filled with guilt or shame. Listening without judgment might be what your loved one needs most. You can also listen to episode 10 of The Family Table Podcast to get a better understanding of what substance use is.
2. Create boundaries so you don’t lose yourself in someone else’s recovery. Your loved one is responsible for their own recovery, and well-intentioned attempts to control, influence, or rescue them can cause boundaries to deteriorate and relationships to suffer.
3. Take care of yourself first. Find ways to manage your stress in healthy ways and take a break when you need one. Families First can help caregivers. Check out their blog for ways to prevent caregiver burnout.
4. Don’t take setbacks or relapses personally. Recovery is a lifelong process and it is likely there will be bumps in the road.
Whether you are working on your own sobriety or supporting someone who is, there is help available. Families First provides a full continuum of treatment and support – from prevention/education programs for individuals experiencing the first signs of a problem, through intensive outpatient programs for those experiencing significant and persistent substance abuse or dependence problems. Read more about Families First's substance use programs or call us at 317-634-6341 to inquire about our treatment services.