Living in recovery from addiction is never easy. At first, people who are newly clean and sober may miss taking their substance and can find life boring and flat without the drama of their old life in addiction. If you’ve been taking substances for a long time, you may feel utterly bewildered when they are suddenly no longer part of your world.
But there are also people who bounce along happily in early recovery, cushioned by what some call “the pink cloud.” These addicts report feeling liberated and exhilarated by the recovery process. If you are struggling with transitioning into life in recovery, here are some things you can do to feel more comfortable with early recovery, so that turning your life in a better direction doesn’t seem as challenging.
Make Sober Friends
It is much easier to thrive in recovery when you have people around you who understand your mindset and what you may be going through. Sober people are great to spend time with, can support your healthy new choices and may be able to pass on tips and tricks to help you improve your recovery.
Meeting a group of people who don’t need to use substances to have fun can be very liberating and allows you to let go of any people in your life who don’t understand or support your decision to get clean and sober. You can also arrange alcohol-free activities with your sober friends so you don’t miss out on events usually accompanied by alcohol, such as barbecues, parties and watching sports together.
Clear Your Conscience
With a clear head, people who are newly sober often come to dwell on the ways they misbehaved or mistreated others when in active addiction. Guilt and shame can quickly burst a pink cloud, and these particular emotions are known to often drive people straight back into addictive behaviors.
Draw a line between your experiences while intoxicated and those in recovery. You were not yourself back then. However, apologizing to people you have harmed and making reparations can clear up negative feelings and allow you a fresh start. Seek help for any emotional states that trouble you. Anger and stress management classes can help you become more tolerant and resilient, so you will be less prone to hurting others in future.
Find Healthy Hobbies
It is a sad fact that boredom can cause relapse. Those in early recovery are frequently surprised by how much spare time they have when they don’t have to deal with procuring alcohol or drugs, getting over the hangover or comedown, and dealing with the consequences of using. It is essential to fill that spare time with fun, healthy things to do.
Find activities where no one else is likely to be intoxicated. These could include sporting activities, trips to museums or exhibitions, or going to the cinema. You could even take up a brand new hobby, such as photography, writing, meditating, traveling or playing an instrument.
Remember that Unease Passes
There will be moments, even with a protective pink cloud, where being newly sober feels uncomfortable or difficult. Your body is trying to find a new homeostasis without all the chemicals, and this process can leave you feeling anxious or moody for little while. You may also have to attempt things that you’ve never done before without being intoxicated, and that can be scary too.
The main thing to remember is that all feelings pass, no matter how strong they are, if given time. Learning coping techniques for stressful periods or times when you feel unsettled can help you to tolerate them more easily. The more you do that which is outside your comfort zone, the more comfortable and normal it becomes.
Nothing feels quite as nice as helping other people and doing good for others. Set your mental and emotional boundaries when you are helping anyone in distress to ensure you aren’t sucked into a negative state. If you can do that, then giving a helping hand to another person or a group of people is one of the most spiritually rewarding things you can do.
Doing good can range from calling an unhappy friend and inviting them for lunch to mowing your neighbor’s lawn to volunteering for a charity. There are plenty of good causes around that require different skills and benefit many aspects of your community and the world. You could join a conservation project, raise funds for a school, administrate for an animal charity or volunteer at a soup kitchen.
Pursue Your Dreams
When you’re clean and sober, it is the perfect time to find out what deeply matters to you and what you want to do with the rest of your life. You may have always regretted not completing your education or always had a dream that one day you would start your own business or travel the world. Start preparing for living the life you may have dreamed of, which was impossible to pursue when you were living in active addiction.
Whether you want to take small steps or giant leaps toward your goals is up to you, but thinking about your new potential and prospects can keep you happy and occupied in early recovery as well as setting out an exciting new template for the rest of your life.
Making early recovery easier is really about starting as you mean to go on. All the suggestions mentioned in this article are things you can incorporate into your life to help keep you happy, healthy and in recovery for the long term.
Written By Beth Burgess