Three Ways to Make Your Sobriety Your Priority

Three Ways to Make Your Sobriety Your Priority

Getting sober is cause for celebration. Once the chaos of active addiction begins to fade, clearing away the haze of preoccupation with using steroids, life comes back into focus. Many people in recovery say that once they passed through detoxification — the process by which the body rids itself of toxic chemicals inflicted by drug use — the world seems bigger, brighter and better.

Against such a backdrop, problems can also stand out starkly. Negative consequences to relationships, finances and careers must still be faced. Hope flips the switch from despair to optimism. This is especially true for individuals who attend professional rehab centers and get equipped with coping tools and strategies that help them face reality in strategic and healthful ways.

Not surprisingly, many people throw themselves into recovery, eager to put distance between themselves and the past. From 12-Step meetings to spending time with other people in recovery — especially individuals with whom they attended treatment — their lives revolve around structures that build sobriety. For most people, however, the excitement of early sobriety eventually wears off. Pearls of wisdom once cherished as profound, take a cliché turn. Meetings begin to feel boring, so you begin to skip them. This is a dangerous point along the recovery journey. If apathy sets in, it can pave the way for doubts about whether the time and energy required to work a good program is worth it.

If this describes you, take heart. Plateaus are part of every person’s recovery. They do not need to lead to relapse if you traverse them skillfully. The key is learning ways to keep your experience fresh — and making sure staying clean from steroid use remains a top priority. To learn three ways to help you stay on track, read on.

#1 – Don’t Misread the Signs

Keeping a right mindset about the stages of recovery is one way to help you maintain sober priorities. Sobriety is a lifestyle, not an event. This is a critical realization to make for several reasons. First, if you expect the “pink cloud” to last forever, your motivation to prioritize recovery can carry unrealistic expectations. When life resumes and reality hits, you may misjudge your efforts as inadequate or, worse, resent them for not paying off. Before you know it, other interests may crowd out room for your sober friends and pursuits. You may even become tempted to consider yourself cured, a potentially deadly misconception given that National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)[1] experts consider addiction to be a chronic, progressive disease.

Knowing the stages of recovery will help you understand your experience. It can also help you to gauge your progress, protecting you from discouragement. According to the Department of Health and Human Services[2], lasting recovery typically passes through six stages. They include the following:

  • Transition – In this stage, the addict comes out of denial and recognizes that drug use is a serious problem.
  • Stabilization – Physical withdrawal and other medical conditions are addressed, as well as lifestyle issues. The chemically dependent person learns how to separate from people, places and things that promote substance abuse.
  • Early recovery – The individual establishes a chemical-free lifestyle that includes building recovery-friendly relationships.
  • Middle recovery – The wreckage of the past is cleared away. Life becomes more balanced.
  • Late recovery – The individual identifies and changes faulty core beliefs about him or herself, other people, and the world at large.
  • Maintenance – In this stage, continued growth, development and management of routine life problems is cultivated.

Moving through several steps of the process at once — or taking “one step forward, two steps back” is normal. If sobriety seems to be slipping down your list of priorities, go easy on yourself. Then get take action to reboot your program.

#2 – Keep Your Batteries Charged

If your sobriety is slipping, you’re likely to notice certain behaviors. Warning signs to watch out for include the following:

  • Feeling cured
  • Resisting feedback and correction from people you’ve trusted in the past, such as a sponsor
  • Attending support-group meetings less frequently
  • Neglecting recovery components you once deemed essential, such as doing service work and reaching out to newcomers
  • Reconsidering if you qualify as an addict and entertaining doubts that you may have overreacted by giving up drug use
  • Fantasizing about ways to drink or abuse drug successfully
  • Hanging around people and places that were part of your using days

According to an article published by the National Institutes of Health[3] behaviors such as these often accompany negative emotional states such as anger, anxiety, depression, frustration and boredom — common precursors to relapse. Interpersonal conflicts, social pressure to use – both verbal or nonverbal pressure – and, conversely, heightened positive emotional states can also set the stage. To put your sobriety back where it belongs — front and center — consider ambivalence as the top of the weed. Figure out what is really bothering you, either with the help of sober friends, an aftercare group or a professional therapist. Above all, get honest about your feelings. Recovery burnout is common, especially when underlying issues are eating away at your motivation. Sometimes speaking up about what you’re going through, or seeking out short-term counseling is all it takes to get back on track.

#3 – Keep It Fresh

Sometimes sobriety starts to slip simply because boredom gives it a push. People who are prone to addiction often excel at the start of new adventures; they thrive on the excitement. Maintaining stamina over the long haul, however, can be more challenging. Not surprisingly, swapping out sober routines for something new and different may seem appealing. To safeguard against this insidious thinking, pull out a few tried-and-true recovery tools. First, remember the pain and consequences that motivated you to get sober in the first place. Ask people who are close to you what they remember about the last days of your addiction, sparing no details. Second, play the tape. In other words, consider what price you will pay for using again. Chances are you will come to realize that feeling restless, bored or even angry are emotions that will pass. On the other hand, relapsing to steroid use could lock you into a more permanent state of pain.

Help for Steroid Addiction

If you think you may have a problem with steroids, the smartest step you can take is to pick up the phone. You don’t have to figure this out alone. Help is available. Our admissions coordinators are standing by, ready to assist you in any way possible — whether that means listening to your story or exploring options for treatment. The call is toll-free and our helpline is open 24-hours a day. Dialing our number may be all it takes to help you break free from addiction and launch a dynamic, new life. Don’t wait.


 

[1] DrugFacts: Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction

[2] Blending Perspectives and Building Common Ground | ASPE. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/subabuse99/chap2.htm

[3] Variation in substance use relapse episodes among adolescents: A longitudinal investigation. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3408390/