Living life to the fullest while having a healthy alcohol & drug recovery program is essential for long-term sobriety.
Sure, you need to stay focused and aware of the impact that addiction has had on your life. There will always be precautionary measures to take to avoid relapsing, but abstaining from drug and alcohol use isn’t the whole picture, pursuing your dreams is!
Living Your Hero’s Journey
Everyone has what’s called a “hero’s journey.” The trials and tribulations you experience are part of a greater process of growth and self-discovery. For people recovering from drug or alcohol use, addiction is one of the many mountains to climb on the path to a fulfilling life.
Don’t Let Addiction Define You!
Remember the dreams you had when you were a kid? For addicts and alcoholics, staying clean is a necessary task, but it’s not the end goal. The end goal is pursuing your ideal life.
See A.A. Meetings and Counseling for What They Are
Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are necessary for maintenance therapy. The same goes for group therapy and individual counseling. Sharing your experiences with other people who can relate to your struggles can be therapeutic and increase the long-term success of recovery.
Seeing a psychologist can serve a similar purpose. Developing a close professional relationship with a trained substance abuse counselor can help reveal experiences from your past that you didn’t realize were affecting you. Maybe you’ve always pushed people away and avoided true intimacy because of your relationship with your parents. Individual therapy can turn over stones and reveal secrets about what makes you tick.
It’s Okay to Obsess Over Recovery at First
Focus and intention are powerful. Like a moth to a flame, you gravitate to what you focus on most intensely. Obsessing over recovery and attending multiple A.A. meetings a day can serve a purpose early in alcohol recovery. When you’re cravings are intense and you haven’t yet developed a stable support system, being fixated on recovery can be a necessary tool.
At a point, there will be an appropriate time to taper back on the time you put into “direct” recovery activities. Direct recovery activities are things like A.A. meetings and counseling. They eventually need to be supplemented with pursuing lifelong goals.
The two most frequently cited reasons for pursuing alcohol and drug recovery are negative consequences of substance misuse and “wanting a better life.” “Wanting a better life” includes following the dreams you had for yourself as a kid. It also means chasing the goals and ideals you yearn for as an adult.
Transitioning from Intensive Recovery to Larger Goals
Consider this analogy: If your life is a tree, recovery is the watering and the pruning, but the goal of life is to pick the fruit, eat it, bake apple pies, and grow an orchard of accomplishments. As a recovering alcoholic or drug addict, you’ll always have to put in direct recovery work. The goal is to do so in a way that allows you to harvest the fruit and lead a fulfilling life.
As you transition from a recovery-intense mindset to a more balanced lifestyle, it will be critical to be aware of the potential for relapse. When your mind has an iron grip on recovery, it’s easy to avoid harmful habits and stay away from damaging relationships. It’s when you start to let off the brake pedal that unhealthy habits can begin to creep back into your life.
Let the people who are most critical to your recovery know that you plan to focus more on new goals and less on direct recovery activities. Tell them to keep a close eye on you and to look for subtle changes that may put you at risk for relapse. Having a finely-tuned safety net can help you stay relaxed as you begin to devote more time to pursuing loftier goals and picking the fruit of life.
Building Momentum with Small Goals
Start with easy-to-achieve goals and build healthy habits. Studies show that this approach is especially effective when it comes to physical fitness goals.
A recent study involving sedentary adults found that the use of fitness trackers greatly improved individuals’ success with meeting weekly goals for walking. Participants aimed for a 10,000 steps-per-day average over the course of three months. The individuals who allowed themselves to target lower step counts of 5,000 to 7,000 within the first few weeks performed better over the course of the three month period than those who targeted higher step counts in the initial weeks.
If your goal is to hike the entire Pacific Crest Trail, start by scheduling a couple of short hikes a week. Just as you’ve built accountability and consistency in recovery, you can do so with broader goals.
Focus on the Process, not the Outcome
Studies show that people have higher rates of success when they focus on the process rather than the outcome. It’s easier to stay motivated when you define your success by the effort you put into achieving your goal.
In recovery, this idea comes in the form of regularly attending and actively participating in A.A. meetings. Pat yourself on the back as long as you’re putting in the work and giving your best effort. When you start to beat yourself up for messing up is when you’re at the highest risk for relapse. By focusing on the process, you can stay positive amidst adversity.
Carry this mentality into whatever life goals you pursue. You’ll develop a mindset that’s conducive to happiness and fulfillment.
Losing control over your life due to alcohol and drug addiction can be terrifying. It can be tempting to cling to recovery like a life raft for a long time. At some point, however, it will likely be healthiest to begin dedicating more time to fulfilling your dreams. Once you’ve developed positive recovery habits and a solid support system, leap to greater goals!
Don’t let addiction define you. It’s only a hurdle on the way to a truly fulfilling life.
Stonewall Institute Treatment Center’s 10-week Intensive Outpatient Program is designed to help individuals struggling with drug and alcohol dependency and co-occurring issues. Services are delivered in a private upscale outpatient treatment setting using evidence-based treatment methods. Our program allows clients to sustain life responsibilities while providing an intensive treatment environment 3 evenings per week for 10 weeks. Clients in our Drug and Alcohol Treatment program will learn about underlying issues that contribute to substance dependence and obtain the vital skills necessary to sustain long-term sobriety and recovery.
If you or somebody you love is struggling with alcohol and/or drug addiction, we can help. Call Stonewall Institute today at 602-535-6468 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a confidential clinical evaluation with one of our qualified professionals.