Recovery is a process, one that requires time, patience, motivation, commitment, and support. At times, the road to recovery may feel especially long and hard, but it is important to remember that it is also a positive one. Addiction recovery brings with it many wonderful memories, lasting relationships, healthy routines, and an undeniable self-awareness that can make your life – and your outlook on life – one to be proud of. Of course, it is work – and just as you’ll have your good days, you’ll also have some hard ones. That is where these fool-proof, evidence-based addiction recovery tools can come in handy.
If you are here, you may be just starting your road towards sobriety. And right now, it may feel like an impossible goal. But not only is sobriety possible, it is also within your reach. To help you along the way, Turnbridge has compiled some essential addiction recovery tools that can be used to combat addiction and maintain sobriety throughout the recovery process:
1. Coping Skills
In the beginning stages of drug treatment, you are taught a certain set of coping skills – skills that you will use throughout your recovery journey to navigate past the bad days, the stressful days, and those days when you’re just craving a hit or a drink. In many ways, these coping skills will become your saving grace as you move through treatment and beyond.
Coping skills allow you to healthily address and overcome the problems and situations that originally led you to drug abuse – negative emotions, a history of trauma, anxiety, stressful situations, a party-going lifestyle or pressure from other people in your life. These skills – these recovery tools – are healthy ways to manage your problems (without falling back on drugs or alcohol) and will be completely unique to you. One of your coping skills may be meditation or deep breathing, while another person’s may be to talk it out with someone they trust. Many in recovery choose to channel their problems, feelings, or cravings into exercise or other healthy activities. An addiction recovery professional can help you identify and create your own unique set of coping skills to help you through this journey.
2. Healthful Hobbies
Hobbies are an important part of your addiction recovery toolkit, as they serve as another outlet for relief from negative feelings and difficult drug cravings. By establishing new and meaningful hobbies early in your recovery, you can protect yourself from relapse.
Do things that you enjoy and that you are passionate about, things that will inspire you and allow your creative juices to flow. Find an activity that makes you feel productive or that gives you purpose, something that will fill your life with meaning and that you can retreat to when times get tough. Maybe it’s something you’ve always wanted to try, like joining a rock-climbing gym, journaling, or reading a book series. Maybe it is hiking the East Coast, enrolling in art classes, or designing your own website. By exploring new and meaningful interests, you will find yourself spending less time thinking about drinking or using.
One of the most important and accessible addiction recovery tools is physical exercise. Exercise offers drug-free relief from the negative feelings that accompany addiction, such as depression, anxiety, and stress. By exercising in moderation, your body will establish emotional equilibrium and you will begin feeling emotionally, mentally, and of course physically well.
Exercise also enhances the detoxification phase of recovery, by ridding any residual chemicals from your body and improving sleep patterns (and therefore concentration and cognitive function, too). As part of your recovery journey, try to spend at least 30-60 minutes at the gym a few days a week. Join in extracurricular sports or take walks with friends from your rehab program.
4. A Balanced Diet
Believe it or not, eating a balanced, nutritious diet is another key ingredient to addiction recovery. By eating right, you will feel both mentally and physically healthier. Your body will regain the nourishment it lost during your addiction, and you will find renewed strength and motivation in your day-to-day life.
As much as it helps to fill your days with sober activities, exercise, and plans to keep busy, it is also important to save some time for yourself. As you move away from addiction, try not to overwhelm yourself with too much at once. A successful recovery requires personal healing, and personal healing often requires space. Every now and then, don’t forget to take a moment to stop and breathe. Take a nap or relaxing bath if you need to calm yourself down. Don’t feel bad about cancelling plans if you need a mental health day; keeping some downtime to yourself is always okay, so long as drugs and alcohol stay out of the picture.
6. A Sober Support Network
In your using days, you likely had a circle of “using buddies,” those kids you met before or after school, on weekends or at social events, to drink or to get high. In recovery, your social circle changes significantly. Rather than surrounding yourself with those who encourage your drug use, you must stay close to those who encourage your sobriety and support your substance-free lifestyle. These people will be positive, uplifting, and available during your times of need. They will understand when you say “no” to a party where there might be alcohol. They will understand when you are having a bad day.
You may meet these people in your addiction treatment program, sober housing, a sober sports league, therapy, or your 12-step meetings. They will become your sober network.
A strong, sober support network is one of the most essential addiction recovery tools you can have. By supporting your values, your goals, and your choices to live sober, this network of friends will also be the ones to help you transition confidently into the world once again. So even when temptations arise after drug treatment, you will have a sober friend to call to help you past them. Recovery is not a journey you should ever have to walk alone.
7. Meditation and Mindfulness
“All addictions have one thing in common: their power depends on something external, something out there in the world, something extrinsic to the individual self. Meditating is the opposite, the antithesis, of addictive behavior.” -- Deepak Chopra, M.D., Overcoming Addictions
A successful recovery requires a stable state of mind. Sometimes, however, intense cravings, prolonged withdrawal symptoms, and mental distress or health disorders can get in the way. That is why addiction experts will recommend meditative techniques to help you press the “pause” button on any stressful reactions, and to restore emotional equilibrium while in recovery. Meditation can come in many different forms, including sitting practices and yoga.
Mindfulness meditation, specifically, promotes multiple measures of well-being (such as positive immune function and reduced depression, stress, and emotional pain). It is a technique in which a person focuses the mind on the present moment, enabling them to observe their internal experience as it occurs, rather than react to it immediately. In addiction recovery, mindfulness can be used to better accept experiences and feelings as they occur, rather than suppress or modify them.
Acceptance is an addiction recovery tool that you may not have expected to make this list, but is a crucial tool for fighting against the toils of a substance use disorder. Acceptance allows you to come to terms with your previous choices, your situation, and to move forward from them. You may not have control over what happened in your past, but you do have the ability to change and shape a future.
From the beginning of your recovery, it is important to set goals that mean something to you. Is it important for you to make amends with your family? Start a family of your own, go to college, or have a successful career? Stay sober for 10, 20, 50-plus years? Does attending 12-step meetings twice a week mean something to you?
Setting meaningful goals, and using them as addiction recovery tools, can help guide you through recovery. By holding them close, you constantly have something to look forward to, something to work towards, and something to prevent you from turning back to drugs.
10. Twelve-Step Meetings
Many recovery centers, such as Turnbridge young adult rehab, encourage residents to work through the 12-steps in efforts to overcome addiction. 12-step meetings can be very powerful addiction recovery tools in that they surround you with like-minded, recovering individuals who are in a similar seat as you. They are there to talk, share their stories, and lend advice to others who are walking this journey. You may find their stories inspirational, their recovery tips helpful, or even find a friend out of the meetings.
In 12-step meetings, you will also find a sponsor. A sponsor is an individual who will serve as a sort of “big brother” through your recovery – lending knowledge and sharing his or her own experiences having had years sober. Your sponsor will serve as a great resource to turn to in times of need.
Ongoing therapy is one of the greatest addiction recovery tools of all, and one you should hold close long after your treatment program has ended. Especially if you struggle with negative emotions and inner turmoil, addiction therapy is a great relapse prevention tool and keeper of mental and emotional health. Therapy offers a safe, nonjudgmental, and confidential environment for you to discuss your feelings with a professional. Together, you can figure out ways to handle life’s challenges, as well as strategies for sobriety. You can also learn how to navigate any difficult feelings, stressful or sensitive relationships, as well as any pressures or cravings that come your way.
To learn more about addiction recovery tools, or to start your own recovery journey, please do not hesitate to call Turnbridge at 877-581-1793.