Friday, October 7, 2016

Joys Found in Sobriety

The New Joys I Find in Life Now that I’m Sober: Recovering Addicts Share Their Stories
Photo from Pixabay

If the last few months or years of your life have been consumed by alcohol or drug abuse, it may seem impossible to imagine giving it up. When so much of the happiness you had was dependent on your habit, is there really a way to lead a satisfying life once you’re sober?

According to the recovering addicts I spoke to, the answer is loud and clear: YES.

Here are the insights a few recent drug rehabilitation graduates shared with me about finding happiness after treatment.

Focusing on the present moment

You don’t have to be an addict to relate to things like dwelling over the past or worrying about the future. But Scott said that his time in rehabilitation at Addiction Campuses’ Mississippi facility taught him to focus on the time that matters most: right here and now.

“I don’t think about tomorrow — it’s of no consequence to me right now. It will be when I wake up, but not right now. And yesterday is history. I’m only focused on today and right now,” he said.

Scott explained the importance of putting things into perspective, especially when it comes to maintaining your sobriety. You may not be able to predict the future, he said, but you can control the current moment:

“I tell some newcomers to take it one hour at a time — you only have to stay clean for this hour. Then, eventually, hours will become days, days will become weeks, and weeks will become months. For me, that’s what works. That’s the program that works for me.”

Realizing there are endless things to be thankful for

For Ryan, it’s about looking at the details. He told me it’s easy to see a bad situation at its surface, but when you dig a little deeper you just might find a gift.

“I look at the little stuff — the small, little positive stuff,” he explained. “Like when my tire blew out today: it’s a blessing that it didn’t blow out before I got onto I-40 driving back to Nashville — I would have really been in trouble. When my tire blew out, I was in my parents’ neighborhood, and was able to get it fixed safely before I got out on the road.”

It’s OK to feel overwhelmed sometimes, and everyone is allowed to have bad days. What’s important is putting everything into perspective: in the end, you probably have a lot to be grateful for, and those are the things worth focusing on.

Finding happiness in helping others

“Being an outlet for people has been my greatest joy in recovery,” said Lincoln, who now commits much of his time to sponsoring others on their journey to sobriety.

There’s a real sense of liberation in taking control of your own life, Lincoln explained, and paying it forward is a rewarding opportunity.

“I love being able to reach out to someone who is struggling and being someone that people reach out to when they want a better life,” he said. “I wasn’t helpful to anyone when I was using, but now having people who rely on me and actually want to hear my opinion is amazing. It’s overwhelming.”

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