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Techniques for Staying Sober

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© arstechnica.com

Your addiction doesn't go away just because you stop drinking, drugging, binging, starving, gambling or indulging in whatever it is that you use to numb out.

The fact is, addiction is a chronic disease that needs lifelong treatment. Relapse and cross-addiction are very real threats. That's why you need to understand your addiction, where you are in the process of getting and staying sober, and how to embrace a lifestyle of recovery.

Here are the stages of recovery:

  1. Withdrawal: This stage lasts one to two weeks and includes physical symptoms that vary with your addiction of choice. It can be very uncomforable and you are likely to need medical supervision.
  2. Early Abstinence: This is the one-month period following withdrawal, commonly called the “honeymoon" or "pink cloud." You may feel very successful during this period and may want to drop out of treatment.
  3. Protracted Abstinence: This period lasts from six weeks to five months after you stops using. Generally, the honeymoon is over: Chemical changes in the brain often cause depression, irritability and low energy. Exercise is a big help.
  4. Readjustment: You've been sober for five months to a year. You feel fewer cravings but may be more susceptible to relapse. Stay on your routine and avoid triggers.

Now that you know where you are in the process, it's time to look at the things that you should be doing to fill and maintain your recovery toolbox. Here are some strategies that work for most people.

  1. Group Meetings:  Fellowship and support are at the heart of successful recovery. You need people who understand your illness and what you are going through; friends who are clean and sober. In AA, they call this finding a new playground. Whether you choose a 12-Step program or another sort that can be offered through addiction treatment centers and other organizations, you need to plug in. These groups offer accountability and non-judgmental support.
  2. Individual, Couples or Family Counseling: In addition to regular group meetings, some form of counseling also can be appropriate and helpful. This kind of work helps identify behaviors and attitudes that could lead to relapse.
  3. Time Scheduling: In the beginning it is wise to plan every hour of every day. It's critical to avoid boredom that can lead to relapse. If you write or electronically create a schedule, you will be more likely to stick to it.
  4. Calendar: Count your days of sobriety so you can experience the feeling of success. However, focus on today. Thoughts of "forever" and "never," in other words projecting, can be detrimental to your continued recovery.
  5. Triggers: Know them. Identify the things that cause cravings for drugs, alcohol, or another addiction. Learn different ways to cope with triggers, such as planning to go out for dinner with a supportive person on payday, rather than buying drugs.

There are many more strategies for staying sober. Read, meditate, take up new hobbies: It takes a lot of time to indulge in addiction. Now you have that time for other pursuits. Enjoy it: You owe yourself this.

 
 

Comments

Tsukasa  1322 days ago

When my client came back to cosnleuing first I would explain that there is no judgment, I would explain some of the changes that take place chemically in the body when a person uses, I would ask questions in a non-threatening and safe manner, to find out where the client is at the moment mentally and emotionally since this plays a factor in someone relapsing. I would let the client know that it is not unusually and that they are not failing just because they relapsed, it just means that it will take them longer and that they still have the time clean that they had before they relapsed. I would try to instill unconditional hope to my client, that if they want to really stop using then they can and will. I would try to find out if they know what a trigger was for the client, I would ask about whom they were around, what was going on, where were they, and maybe did they smell something or see something that made them activate that urge in them?I would help them put into place some tools that will help them to control the triggers they may come across in their recovery. Change friends, limit (negative family) time, start a 12 step program, utilize positive support (maybe like church), remind them of what they had before they used and how that felt, changes the things they do and places they go if possible. Try to get the client to go back and start to do the things they did before they started using.

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