Maintaining abstinence from drugs and alcohol is always challenging, especially if you are an addict and need to take control of your life. Developing a drug-free lifestyle is one of the most important steps to make this possible. Doing this requires various changes to your life including at work, at home, and during your free time. If you have already been to rehab and completed your program, the next step is replacing the behaviors you previously had with healthy and productive ones.
Perhaps the hardest part of recovery and living a drug-free life is getting started. Most people start by seeking help from a residential rehab center. Drug and alcohol abuse treatment centers such as Harris House place a premium on taking control of your treatment and recovery process because this has been shown to be the best way to recover. Qualified counselors will guide you through the process of creating an individual recovery plan to not only help you recover but to live a drug-free life.
Once you are done with this initial phase, you will enter a continuing or follow-up phase. While you will receive ongoing support and help from your counselors, you will be encouraged to start moving forward, and this is where developing a drug-free lifestyle starts.
One of the most important things to do once you are out of the treatment center is to avoid the people who used to be involved in your previous lifestyle. These are the people who were drinking buddies or who helped you procure and use drugs. Keeping in touch with people from your previous life is a very strong trigger for relapse.
To develop a drug and substance-free lifestyle, addicts need to develop new relationships and friendships, to find new leisure activities and social patterns.
Your counselor will help you find supportive friends and family members who do not use any substances themselves. They will also show you how to develop and improve relationships with the people in your new circle as well as help you find things to do to fill the time you previously spent seeking and using drugs or alcohol.
Do not despair if you do not have drug-free friends and family members as this is an opportunity for you to join new social groups, create new relationships, and cultivate new, supportive friendships.
A structured daily schedule is another critical aspect of developing and maintaining a drug-free lifestyle. The schedule should be easy to follow so that you can maintain consistency. A chaotic and disorganized lifestyle introduces unneeded stress that can push some to drug-seeking behaviors. Therefore, maintaining an organized and structured schedule is critical and can be your biggest ally.
Many rehab and treatment centers will help you establish a daily or weekly schedule during the early days of your recovery. This structure gives you the tools you need to structure your time properly and ensure every minute of your day is filled with healthy activities instead of drug-seeking and using ones. When trying to maintain abstinence, you should not abandon or deviate from the set structure too much. If you do this, you might find yourself increasingly straying from it, which might lead you back to where you started.
Remaining sober should be your priority at all times but to develop a drug-free lifestyle that you can keep going into the future, you will need to look ahead into the future. The best way to do this is by identifying and setting larger goals for your life. These goals should be the guide you use to gauge how well you are doing, how far you have come, and how far you still need to go.
At this point, you likely have had more than 3 months of abstinence, so it is time to start thinking about the future. Some of the larger, long-term goals you can write down can include going back to school or getting a degree you have always wanted, saving some money to achieve financial freedom, or seeking a new career.
Other goals you identify have to do with the people around you. These can include reconnecting with family and friends as well as finding ways to maintain these relationships.
Developing a plan on how to achieve these goals should also be on your mind so that you can take the necessary actions to achieve them. Your counselor can help you learn how to identify and develop long-term goals as well as what to do to achieve them.
If followed the 12-step program as part of your rehabilitation process, you may have been introduced to spirituality. The concept of spirituality in the context of recovery and abstinence usually has nothing to do with religion. In this context, it means developing and holding the right values and benevolent goals that guide you to live not only for yourself but for others to find happiness and fulfillment in everything you do.
Spirituality, for many addicts, is an important factor in recovery. Your counselor will guide you on how to do things for others and not necessarily for yourself such as volunteering or offering support to recovering addicts. Being more involved in the community, helping a religious organization, or offering to work for a support group are all ways to live a life larger than yourself.
One thing to understand here is that everybody will define a “higher power” differently and it will be up to you to decide what this means for you. However, many addicts say that their drug-free lifestyles are often guided by a higher power greater than themselves and that is transcendent of everything in their lives.
Living a drug-free life and developing a lifestyle to accompany it is challenging for a lot of addicts. However, there are so many ways addicts can get help to keep them on the right path and help them not stray. Finding people willing to offer support as well as making structural changes to your life are the best places to start.