Lorelie Rozzano is a guest blogger for Vertava Health.
5 Ways To Help You Stay Clean And Sober.
It’s cold and flu season. Very few of us make it through the winter without contracting a case of the sniffles or experiencing aches and pains. Luckily, the majority of discomfort can be alleviated by swallowing a cold and flu tablet from your medicine cabinet.
Anything that can’t be cured by over the counter medication can be found at your doctor’s office. Antibiotics for infection. Antidepressants to alleviate depression and anxiety. Morphine for a bad back. Insulin for diabetes. Physically, there isn’t much that can’t be relieved with the right medication.
What happens when you have an illness that doesn’t respond to medication alone?
One in 10 struggle with addiction. For them, medication alone isn’t always enough. Addiction affects the body, mind and spirit. For recovery to occur, a person’s behavior, attitude and thinking must change.
Getting clean and sober isn’t one-size fits all. Some addicted persons experienced childhood trauma. Others started with prescription medication. Some are dealing with mental health issues or painful pasts. Those struggling with addiction come from all walks of life. Each person has their own unique struggles and will need a thorough assessment and individualized treatment plan.
While our stories are different, the outcome is not. Addiction is a progressive illness that is terminal in nature. Truthfully anyone can get clean and sober; it’s staying that way that’s challenging.
Below are five things I do on a daily basis that helps me stay clean and sober.
Gratitude is the number one reason I’m still sober. When I’m sad, I say thank you. When I’m hurt, I say thank you. When I’m struggling, I say thank you. When I’m baffled, confused or lost, I say thank you.
Thank you is the preface to every moment, be it bright or dark. In addiction (whether to drugs and alcohol or loving someone who struggles with them), the brain changes due to large doses of the stress hormone, cortisol. In recovery, it’s important to embrace positive thinking. Nothing changes brain chemistry faster than gratitude. It is the nemesis of addiction.
Gratitude improves physical, emotional and psychological health. It improves relationships with the people we love and boosts our self-worth and self-esteem. Gratitude improves sleep and decreases anxiety, stress and aggression. When you learn to view your struggles as an opportunity for growth, you achieve inner peace and wisdom.
Give back and help others.
Those struggling with addiction tend to ruminate. The negative noise in our head can get so loud it overrides everything else and we don’t notice other people are hurting too. We obsess on all our problems, those who have wronged us, and we drown in self-pity. We have no balance. Addiction lies to us in our own voice.
Giving back and helping others restores balance. It takes you out of your head, where true freedom is found. When you help others, your focus is on them. Helping others gives you a sense of purpose and satisfaction. It alleviates loneliness and creates a social connection.
Additionally, giving back and helping others has physical, emotional and mental benefits. It lowers blood pressure and increases serotonin, your brains natural ‘feel good’ chemical, creating an upward spiral of overall wellness.
Connection through recovery support groups.
In early recovery, life is scary and overwhelming. Your emotions are big, raw and on the surface. You’ve done things in your addiction you’d never do when clean and sober. You may be filled with shame, regret and despair.
Without support, you’re at great risk of relapse. Not because you want to get high, but because you want to avoid the painful emotions you don’t know how to cope with. Finding a recovery group allows you to talk openly without fear of judgment. The relief you find when giving voice to your thoughts and feelings with a group of people that can say, “me too,” is powerful.
It’s comforting to know you’re not alone or the worst person in the world. Being able to share your worst memories with safe and supportive people improves mental wellness and greatly decreases the likelihood of a relapse.
There will be times you struggle and times that life doesn’t make sense. When these occur, lean on God. Sometimes a closed door is actually a Godsend, but you won’t know that right away because hindsight is always 20/20. Looking back you will find your whys.
Looking forward, be open to new possibilities and have faith. Faith brings answers to your prayers. When you can’t find peace, turn it over to God. Make prayer your daily ritual. My prayer is simple – thank you. Sometimes not getting what we want is the best thing that ever happens to us.
You can’t replace your old tapes – loser, junkie, drunken bum, crackhead, good-for-nothing – without creating new ones. Doing the work in recovery builds self-esteem, self-worth, confidence and results. Hard work builds character, stamina, confidence and resilience. Hard work also draws attention, the positive kind.
People notice when you’re putting in an effort. Do you remember how much effort you put into getting high? Do that in your recovery and you’ll be a huge success. Life doesn’t get better by chance. Life gets better by change.
The only way you can ever fail at recovery is to quit trying.
To end, I would like to leave you with a very special quote from Winston Churchill: “To each, there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour.”
If you or someone you know needs help, please call this confidential support line for assistance. 1-888-614-2379.