During the first several weeks of stepping onto the recovery path from alcohol and drugs, it can be helpful to have a simple guide of suggested, common sense tips to make recovery more feasible and lasting. First, simply quitting the use of your substance of choice may not be enough to create an enduring life of sobriety.  I highly recommend joining a professional recovery/counseling group with professional therapists who can assist you on your early pathway. Recovery is not just about giving up an abusive relationship with a substance like alcohol. It is about forming new life tools and creating a better, more fulfilling life away from using. This will in turn make life easier to never use again.

Recovery groups are excellent for sharing and vocalizing your inner thoughts and feelings. During the early stages, there is a lot of remorse, guilt, sadness and desperation. No better support can be found than in the presence of others struggling with the same issues. The more you share in a group, the better you will feel. The more one allows their empathetic nature to grow when listening to the stories of others in recovery, the more one can integrate the “inside self” with the outside world.

It is important to embrace new, healthy habits. Upon awakening each morning, stop for a moment when lying in bed and give thanks to the day ahead. Thank yourself for allowing another day, one day at a time, to live free from addiction. Get up, make your bed, shower, brush your teeth. Make hygiene an important part of your morning with an attitude of gratefulness for your healing body. Do not rush through these tasks. Concentrate on them and take your time. Catch yourself when feeling anxious, and tell yourself that you are trying new techniques for coping with such anxiousness.  Tell yourself first, that a drink of alcohol in the moment now, or a hit of dope or popping a pill is not going to make life any better for you, but worse. When experiencing the dark, siren-like calls that go with trying to move away from your addiction, acknowledge these temptations and sit with them for a moment. Trying to quickly dispel (or deny) these thoughts can actually reinforce their persuasive power and give them false strength. Take a few deep breaths and gently allow better, healthier thoughts to enter your being. Remember, we have formed some very destructive habits as we descended into full-scale addiction. We have told ourselves that we will feel better with that pill or a stiff drink. We have convinced our inner being that we just cannot get through this morning or day ahead with using. Burst that bubble of falsehood – even if such a tug shows up at your doorstep each day for weeks to come. We are practicing a new set of techniques and it does involve a commitment by us to change.

Again, form healthy habits and stick to them. There is no way you can expect to live the way you once did when using. If you do not change your life, you will never fill the emptiness that was there to begin with. When we use we are trying to fill a pernicious void – an abyss. During the first days of recovery, fill that void by practicing healthy ways of living. After a good shower, some stretching, maybe a little exercising, try saying a simple prayer. I always like the Serenity Prayer for starting any morning – “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference.” Next, go eat something healthy, a bowl of cereal with banana slices for example. Make you coffee or tea and again, do not rush. If you find yourself in a hurry, get up a few minutes earlier the next morning. Most of society today is always discussing the anxiety they experience when in the midst of rushing. It is an illusion. Science has already proven that concentrated, non-rushed movements and thoughts actually accomplish considerably more during the course of a day. Beyond this, it is imperative to honor yourself by not allowing your new life to spin into the frequency so common today, and that is rushing. We owe it to ourselves to not get caught up in the frenzy of hurrying through the tasks of life, regardless of how an employer or teacher or family member may be pressuring us to comply. Protect yourself, give to yourself, honor yourself with healthy habits of daily living. The escape into drinking and/or using may have been actually endeavor to escape rushing.

There are dozens of healthy ways to approach any day. Start with a simple and consistent new set of habits and look to vary the routine in the weeks and months ahead as you learn what works and what doesn’t work for you. But, get up, make that bed, shower, brush the teeth, have a breakfast, drink plenty of good fluids, water, apple juice, tomato juice, breathe deeply, say a prayer, meditate, stretch, exercise, listen to soft music. The list of positive accoutrements you can add into this new morning routine or regime is endless. Compare this extensive menu of life habits to the highly dysfunctional and diminished choices we were allowing ourselves during the daily struggles of addiction. Do I have a drink now? Should I go to work or just lie in bed? I just don’t feel like facing life today. What story can I concoct to get out of work? Obviously, nothing more needs to be said here, that’s for sure.

There are numerous biological, chemical, and emotional causes for urges. Next time an urge assails us, check on these two physical aspects of ourselves. Am I thirsty? Am I hungry? Perhaps our blood sugar has dropped. This can bring on the feeling of urges. Treat yourself to an ice tea, a sparkling water or one of my favorite sober drinks now: one-third glass of apple juice on ice, topped off with sparkling water. It is just delicious and if the body is thirsty, this will quickly alleviate any sense of dehydration. The potassium in apple juice is also wonderful. If you are hungry, eat an apple or a banana with a tablespoon of peanut butter. Six or seven smaller meals a day, combining protein and carbohydrates, is a great way to keep one’s metabolism active throughout the day and the body and brain nourished. Nourish yourself. Why? Because you are worth it and you are now taking care of yourself. Cultivate sustenance for your physical being and your inner self. It is your life, and, it is a gift, and you will realize this gift once you do your part to help yourself live life in a positive way.

Remember again, the importance of meetings – sharing and listening with and to others. Your participation in the world of newly-found sobriety will solidify your recovery. We were never meant to live alone, hopelessly indulging in destructive habits that only remove us farther and farther from our true self and those around us. We may have thought we had to escape the perils and negativity of life around us. If there are certain individuals who have been in our life, family members, perhaps a spouse, so-called friends, that have been nothing but negative influences on us and only entice us further into addiction, then we must seek help from others to establish new relationships, with healthier people and friends, to surround us. When choosing recovery, we must have the courage to make positive decisions for ourselves. Closing old doors and opening new ones and forming new healthy habits will be a major part of this journey. We will revisit this theme of simple, common-sense tips for recovery. Until then, practice adding to your daily regime and learn to enjoy life living sober, living clean, One Day at a Time . . . until next time . . . 



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