Advice for Early Sobriety and Regaining Control of Your Life
You need to regain control over your life in early sobriety. At times like this, it's important to listen to the advice made by recovering addicts or recovering alcoholics who have been sober longer than you. A person who can stay sober through break-ups, marriages, deaths of loved ones, changing jobs, bankruptcy, and so on, probably has some good insight on how to cope with early sobriety. Perhaps this advice on regaining control of your life in early sobriety might help.
My first sponsor told me that sobriety was simply a matter of learning to live life on life's terms. She meant that significant events which happen to, or around, us can influence our desire to drink, even if they are positive changes, because they create a sense of chaos or lack of control. Alcoholics and addicts often have a strong impulse to need to control everything in their lives. These three simple suggestions helped me find balance and control in my chaotic life during early sobriety.
Early Sobriety Is Full of Triggers
1. Change your playground, play friends, and playthings.
I was taught that the places, friends, and activities where you drank or used were addiction triggers and were dangerous during early sobriety. I was in the Coast Guard and primarily drank with people assigned to the same ship as me, so I couldn't very well cut those people and places out of my life while I was still assigned to the ship. However, I was able to change the activities I did in my spare time. For instance, instead of sitting at home alone watching television (a time when I would often drink), I started doing yoga. Developing new habits is one of the best ways to encourage yourself to stay sober.
Mood Swings in Early Sobriety
2. Avoid making major changes in the first year of sobriety.
This may appear to conflict with number one, but it doesn't -- let me explain. This is a suggestion to avoid making decisions on issues that are affected by emotions. For example, decisions involving changes to living arrangements, jobs, starting a new relationship, or ending a long-term relationship can all be influenced by mood swings in early sobriety. Dealing with early recovery is hard enough without throwing these other major issues into the mix.
I, myself, was emotionally raw during the first several months of sobriety. It was often difficult for me to clearly understand where my feelings were coming from because I had always used to alcohol to change them. During this time, it was pivotal for me to re-learn who I was, what I enjoyed, and even who I liked and disliked. Looking back, I can see how my feelings and thoughts changed the longer I stayed sober.
Impulse Control in Early Sobriety
3. Focus on the next right thing.
Worrying about the future and reliving the negative memories of my past threaten my sobriety. When I'm dangerously close to drinking, I'm usually overwhelmed with problems, feelings, or fears. During these moments, my impulsive thoughts kick in with suggestions like drinking. Instead, I focus on "What has to happen in the next hour?" Or in the next 15 minutes -- whatever I can handle. Bringing my attention back to the present moment, I check in with myself. Am I hungry, angry, lonely, or tired? Do I need to be somewhere at a certain time? Have I showered yet that day? Focusing on present and pressing needs helps me develop impulse control by getting outside of my head and into the present moment.
Regaining control of your life in early sobriety is not easy, and depends heavily upon the circumstances surrounding your addiction and decision to try sobriety. For me, these three tips were just as indispensable to my early sobriety as they are now.
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Doyle, B. (2015, May 21). Advice for Early Sobriety and Regaining Control of Your Life, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, March 26 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/debunkingaddiction/2015/05/advice-for-regaining-control-of-your-life-in-early-sobriety