The last year – let’s be honest, the last few years – has been challenging to say the least. We are still going through a pandemic; the addiction crisis has climbed and thousands have felt the devastation of nature’s destructive force in an unseasonably warm winter. But whatever was thrown our way in 2021, we are healing. If you have taken your first steps into addiction recovery, you are starting to heal too.
As we dive headfirst into January and usher in 2022 with optimism, everyone is starting to make their New Year’s resolutions. They are going to test out that diet they heard about, renew that gym membership, or even buy a house.
In recovery, you will get used to making resolutions. Recovery is all about change. Recovery was a resolution you set for yourself in the past, and now you’ve stuck with it! But there are more changes to come if you are going to maintain your sobriety. Here are a few resolutions to consider this year to help you get and stay sober as you rebuild yourself out of addiction.
Ask for help
you are not already in addiction treatment or recovery but you want to be, now is the time to ask for help. Confide in those you trust to discuss your addiction and your desire to get sober or contact an addiction recovery treatment facility directly for help. Isaiah House Treatment Center has open beds for both men and women and can be reached at 859-375-9200 today to provide you with a faith-based treatment option to start you on the right path.
If you are already in addiction treatment or recovery but find yourself struggling, reach out to your peers, your sponsor, your counselor, or family and friends for support. Go to a meeting or group, or review your sober inspiration materials. Addiction is a chronic illness and there is no overnight cure. Everyone has their bad days, so talk it out and take the steps necessary to get back on track with your recovery. It’s been a tough year for everyone, and your mental health and sobriety are important!
Address toxic relationships
Most people in recovery strive to rebuild the relationships with friends and family that have been tarnished during their years in active addiction. With the help of family counseling, recovery guidance, and patience, some of those relationships will be restored over time. But not every relationship is worth salvaging or keeping!
If you have toxic people in your life that have fueled your alcohol or substance misuse or threatened your physical or mental wellbeing, there may be no fixing the relationship between you in a way that supports your recovery and sobriety. If you have these toxic relationships, it is best to cut ties and protect the progress you have made by getting help.
Family and friendship restoration is a wonderful byproduct of addiction recovery, but your sobriety must take precedent and if having a certain person in your life will drive you away from sobriety, change who you spend your time with.
Welcome a change of scenery
Just as we must address toxic relationships, we must also change our behaviors and even the places we spend our time if they could trigger us to relapse. Perhaps in your active addiction, you spent a lot of time at the bar or clubs. If you are in recovery, you need to avoid those places.
Changing your scenery could also mean changing where you live. Experiences or interactions you had in that place during your active addiction could stick with you and trigger a relapse, especially if you are in early recovery and still processing your feelings and coping skills. Sometimes, starting anew is what you need to be successful in rebuilding your life in recovery. It can be a difficult decision to make, especially if you do have some positive ties to the area, but taking this step could be better for you in the long run!
Adopt healthy habits
Chronic alcohol and substance use harm both your physical and mental health and your addiction likely did not inspire you to take care of yourself. To be healthy and happy in your recovery, you need to adopt and maintain healthy habits.
Get plenty of rest, eat well, exercise, socialize and take care of your mental health! Work on managing your stress as well as what you do in your free time. Limit your exposure to stressful social situations, especially if you are new in recovery, and take part in activities that promote positive thinking and feelings. Go for a walk, try yoga, learn to meditate, volunteer, or take on a cardio routine to work on your physical health.
While you focus on the positive, be sure to also address any negative feelings you are experiencing by checking in with your counselor or another person you can confide in.
Set goals for yourself
We have touched on some of the larger changes you will need to make in your addiction recovery – but what are some other ways to achieve successful long-term sobriety? Set goals for yourself! Just as your friends and neighbors are discussing their plans for 2022, start making a list of the goals you have for yourself. They can be recovery-related or just something, in general, you desire for yourself.
The trick to making your goals more than just a list that will be tossed away in a few months, however, is to make them attainable and map out how to get there. Maybe you want to buy a house, but you don’t have the financial means to make that happen just yet. That is fine, you can still make a goal of contributing more to your savings account each month or cutting back on expenses that will help you better manage your budget. Perhaps you desire to take a vacation abroad, but if you cannot, consider making more time to spend with your family and friends, take a weekend trip, or just take time for yourself.
Resolutions do not have to be extravagant ideas. They can be simple but just as impactful along your journey to recovery. Here are a few other resolution ideas for you this year:
- Try something new – have you always wanted to try watercolor painting, learn to play guitar, or dabble in photography? There is no time like the present to give something new a try. Perhaps you will discover an activity that brings you true joy and is a terrific way to express yourself or share your talents. Join a club or attend a new meeting and socialize with people you haven’t before. You may find new joy and purpose in places you were not looking before.
- Grow your support system – support is needed during your recovery and you can find it by attending meetings or group sessions or taking part in activities led by or created for people in recovery. You may already have a weekly meeting in place and, if you do not, you should find one or join a recovery support or advocacy group. In-person is best, but there are online resources as well if you need an alternative option.
- Help someone else – You may also choose to be a support for someone else in recovery. Perhaps you are ready this year to take on the role of a sponsor or get your peer support certification to help others going through treatment. Maybe you even want to try making your own recovery content, such as inspirational videos or starting a podcast to discuss recovery-related topics.
Not ready for as grand a step? Try helping a peer out with one task or problem and go from there. Make a goal to reach out to someone new once a week or to check in with others new to recovery and offer guidance when you can. Even a phone call can go a long way for someone who is struggling. This is all part of your progress in recovery and you will find being able to give back and help someone else extremely rewarding.
- Stay connected – keeping up with your communication isn’t just about growing your recovery support system. As humans, we thrive on relationships and being around others, and in a reality where lockdowns and isolation could creep around the corner at any moment, make it a point to stay connected with others. This can take the form of weekly visits, or a phone call, video chat, or even a handwritten letter. Even if you come to a point where you must physically separate from others, keep a line of communication open so you can stay connected and maintain that needed socialization and companionship.
- Prioritize positivity – staying positive may sound easier said than done, but it can be accomplished if you set your mind to it. Do not dwell on your past mistakes or even minor slip-ups in your recovery. You are working to heal and that speaks volumes, so celebrate your successes, forgive yourself, and take on a positive attitude with whatever you encounter. If you need a positive reminder, keep something with you such as a mantra to center your emotions. You may also find new ways to express yourself, such as journaling, to help you work through your emotions. There will be good days and bad days, but each must be taken one day at a time.
Resolutions for a better you are not just a New Year’s tradition to share on a whim. Lifestyle changes are critical to addiction recovery and are something you will continue to work on whether you are a few months sober or 15 years in. Remember to set realistic goals – but dreaming big is fine, too! – and focus on what will make your recovery successful, meaningful, and lifelong.