I always say getting sober isn’t necessarily the hard part. The hard part, is staying sober. When I put down my drink or drug I am dealing immediately with the physical addiction. Withdrawal, detox, being sick, and feeling crappy. After that though, is when the really hard work begins. I wanted to talk about some of the key pieces to sobriety that I believe are so important. We all know the stuff we hear all the time; don’t go to your old places, don’t hang out with your old friends, go to meetings, be around other recovering people… But how do we get through the discomfort of doing those things?
We break down the barriers we create in our heads and change our thoughts about it.
1) Stop focusing on all the things you don’t like about sobriety and recovery.
This is HUGE. As addicted people we definitely tend to be more on the negative side of things. I think it is our default mode. People sit it my office everyday and tell me their stories about how hard it is to be sober. They are bored, they don’t like meetings, they don’t have any friends etc. But, when you really think about, we didn’t like our addiction either. I definitely didn’t like jail, I didn’t like it when my face was bloody and broken from crashing my car, I for sure didn’t like paying lawyers, I didn’t like feeling like crap everyday, I didn’t like being depressed and feeling like I wanted to die, I didn’t like lying to my family and stealing money from them… You see my point? So, why are we willing to be miserable in addiction, but we are so unwilling to be uncomfortable in sobriety? Doesn’t make much sense if you think about it. Take a minute to think about the good things about turning our lives around instead of putting all of your energy into thinking about and talking about all the things you don’t like.
2) DON’T BE LAZY
Wow. This was a tough one for me. I was so used to being hungover and only able to do the bare minimum to live. I got out of bed at the last possible minute, I went to work at the last possible minute, I put off phone calls, and paying bills, and doing anything until the last possible minute. In sobriety, I had to work on this really hard because staying sober takes energy. I don’t get to be sober and have a great life by lounging around on my a** hoping it happens. The truth is, I have to take action. I have to get up and do something. I would say in my head over and over again, ‘don’t be lazy, don’t be lazy’, because I didn’t want to be lazy. I wanted to BE HAPPY! So get up off your buns and do something.
3) Find A Group
I don’t care what group you like or don’t like, just find a group and hang out with them. Obviously I am talking about a group of sober people, btw. I am an addicted person. It is crazy important that I spend time around other addicted people who understand me and my little addicted brain. There is no way I can be out in the world surrounded by non-addicted people all the time (no offense). All this does is amplify my feeling of not fitting in and being different from everyone else. I have to be around MY people! I have to be able to just be who I am with people that know and accept me, where we can tell our stories and not scare the crap out of people, and where I can just relax and be myself.
4) Stop Making Excuses
This kind of goes along with #1. Just stop. At some point we have to stop talking and start doing. I know a lot of people don’t like the ‘god’ part of AA, get over it. No one can force you to believe anything you don’t and they certainly aren’t going to be begging you to go to church with them. Do not say you are too busy to go to meetings because you are lying. Meetings start as early as 6am and go as late as midnight in my city. In bigger cities there are even more. Saying ‘I don’t have time’ is the equivalent of saying ‘I don’t want to’. If you dropped your phone and it broke, I promise you you would magically create a couple of hours to go to the store and get a new phone. When something is a priority you make it happen. So make your sobriety a priority and make it happen.
5) Do Things That Make You Uncomfortable
When I got sober I knew I was going to be uncomfortable. I just didn’t let it freak me out and I didn’t let it stop me. If you think about it, my comfort zone was drunk and deadly. My comfort zone was me being out of my mind and then unconscious. So it only made sense that when I stopped drinking it was going to be uncomfortable. The good news is, we can overcome uncomfortable. I can’t overcome drunk and dead. I made a vow to myself that I would do things even when I didn’t want to do them. Going to meetings made me uncomfortable (because of ‘god’ and because I have severe anxiety) but I went anyway because I knew it was good for me. Talking to people made me extremely uncomfortable, but I did it anyway in little baby steps. I wouldn’t be alive if I stayed in my comfort zone, I needed to be uncomfortable and I needed to conquer it.
6) HAVE FUN!!!!
I feel like we get so serious about staying sober that we totally forget to enjoy ourselves. This is, to me, the most overlooked piece of sobriety. It is imperative that I have fun. I made a group of friends in AA when I was new and we were so busy having fun that we forgot to be upset about being sober. All these other people were whining about being bored and missing their friends, and we were going out, going to movies, having cookouts, we didn’t think about our old lives because we were involved in loving our new lives. You have to have fun. If my sobriety wasn’t fun I wouldn’t have stayed. That is just the simple truth. If my drunk life was more enjoyable than my sober life then I would go back to my drunk life. It’s human nature. So HAVE FUN.
This is where all of the tips come together- stop focusing on all the things you don’t like and just be fun and funny and hang out. Go to meetings and relax, say hi to a couple of people, have a laugh because we are some of the funniest and smartest people on the planet. Be willing to be a little bit uncomfortable in the beginning and know that it will pass. Connect with other addicted people, we are incredible people and we have love for one another that is priceless.
Get up, be positive, say hello to someone, and enjoy yourself. Staying sober doesn’t have to be miserable, it just takes practice.
Share this Post