Getting sober, we aren’t just quitting drugs. We need to dig a little deeper and look at the causes and issues we’ve faced that have resulted in our addiction. We may do this through work in a twelve-step program, one-on-one work with a clinical therapist, or through group therapy at some kind of treatment program.
Getting sober is a great start, but it is just the beginning. When we get drugs and alcohol out of our system, we have the opportunity to recover. Drug use can cause many psychological effects, leaving us with some difficulties when getting sober. The withdrawal symptoms alone can be quite uncomfortable.
Although getting the drugs and alcohol out of our system is a crucial first step, we need to find ways to continue growing and moving forward. We need to dig deep, begin to look at the ways drugs and alcohol have affected us, and why we turned toward drugs in the first place. Here are a few ways we can dive deeper.
The first thing we can do is dive into some of the causes of addiction we may have experienced. There isn’t one thing that makes addiction arise, but we can look at past traumas, coping skills we’ve learned over the years, family histories, and life decisions and their consequences.
We don’t need to dwell on the past; rather, we can look at it with the goal of understanding and utilizing information moving forward. When I got sober, I saw how my childhood in a chaotic home with alcoholism had impacted my behavior and beliefs. I couldn’t go back and change the past, but I could understand where I learned some of my behaviors. With this information, I made the decision (with the help of a therapist) to begin to work on some of these behaviors and take accountability for my actions today.
Looking at the past can give us a way to understand ourselves more deeply. We use the information to look at our current behavior and begin to behave differently in recovery.
A great way to dive deeper is to begin to cultivate some healthy coping mechanisms. Maybe your investigation of the past has shown you that you tend toward anxiety, toward anger, or toward isolation when you’re in pain. You can learn new ways to cope with the difficulties you experience. This may be through pausing and practicing meditation, learning to step away from a situation when we’re triggered, or simply picking up the phone and calling a trusted friend when we’re struggling.
We also need to learn how to have fun in recovery. Often, we use drugs and alcohol when we’re triggered AND in order to have fun. By finding ways to have fun without drugs and alcohol, we can learn new coping mechanisms and build new habits for ourselves.
Relationships are an important part of recovery. When we’re using, we have a tendency to hurt relationships with those around us,
whether it is a personal relationship or a professional one. It takes time, and rebuilding relationships in sobriety can be difficult. However, we must deeply investigate the ways in which we interact with other people.
Even if you are somebody who tends toward introversion, you’re still a human and a social creature. In order to learn to be healthy and happy in recovery, we all need to investigate our relationships and how to behave appropriately. With those we’ve harmed, we need to learn to make amends. Sometimes, we need to step away from relationships that are causing us harm!