Tips for Successful, Long-Term Recovery from Addiction

If you’ve been struggling with addiction for a period of time, then you know that recovery is a lifelong journey.  Perhaps you’ve lived with alcoholism or drug addiction your entire life.  If so, you’re likely aware that the old model of “just quitting” is not effective.  Instead, recovery is a day-by-day, long-term process that requires mindfulness and commitment to living your best life.

Even with an effective and intense 60-day inpatient addiction treatment under your belt, there are still triggers and obstacles you must face every day in recovery.  That’s why you should arm yourself with every resource available to make your recovery from addiction rewarding and long-term.  Here are a few tips for a successful recovery from addiction that will keep you living a substance-free, healthy lifestyle.

Make Your Priorities Clear

This might come across as extremist, but recovering addicts and alcoholics all agree that the key to staying sober is to make sobriety your number-one priority.  That means the people, places, situations or actions you previously engaged in that encouraged drinking or drug use must go by the wayside.  When you keep sobriety your absolute focus and goal, you are better equipped to handle challenges and temptation going forward.

Compensate. Do Not Compromise

In the same spirit of making sobriety your top-notch priority, it’s important to note you do have choices. You don’t have to feel like a slave to your recovery as you were a slave to addiction.  Instead, look at long-term recovery as an accumulation of choices.

You can compensate for addictive triggers by making different choices.  For example, if the urge to drink alcohol comes upon you, compensate by choosing something different to drink.  Or, take a different action such as going for a walk, or calling a trusted friend.

The point here is that you cannot compromise your recovery.  However, you can compensate by implementing healthy substitutions and making smarter choices instead of reverting to addictive habits.

Manage Your Time Wisely

Time can be a big foe for people who struggle with addictions.  One of the biggest mistakes in recovery is falling victim to time mismanagement. Too much time on your hands, and you feel the gravity of boredom, which can be a big trigger to pick up a drink or use again.  Alternatively, time restrictions caused by overexertion, long work hours, or excessive activity can lead to exhaustion or stress – another trigger. 

Realizing time can be your ally rather than your enemy should motivate you to manage time more wisely.  Think about creating a daily schedule to keep you on track.  This can keep you focused, as well as help you avoid periods of inactivity or overactivity.  Gaining balance over the moments you live in a day can be a boon to your successful, long-term recovery.

Practice Radical Forgiveness, Patience and Self-Acceptance

Self-shaming is often a byproduct of addiction.  Most addicts confess to having feelings of guilt, shame or self-hatred because they have succumbed to addictive behavior.  What is crucial to consider here is that addiction is a disorder.  It requires rehabilitation, behavioral reform, therapy and a lifetime of self-awareness.   

After all, if you could flip a switch in order to stop drinking or using, you surely would.  In reality, addiction is less about self-control or willpower.  It is more about self-acceptance, forgiveness and patience with yourself as you strive to live a life without substance abuse. Keep this in mind as you make progress through your recovery. 

Make amends with your past, love who you are now, and acknowledge your efforts in becoming the best version of yourself possible.  Do not chide yourself for being tempted or endure self-punishment because you feel you might not be making the progress you expected. Instead, love yourself for the commitment you’ve made to stay sober and keep focusing on the present moment.

Remember Why You Sought Sobriety in the First Place

Every story is different when it comes to the reasons why people choose to recover from addictions.  Some people stop in order to become better parents to their children.  Others go into rehab to become more successful in their career.  Still other addicts opt to go into recovery for the simple fact that they know life can be so much better without addiction banging at the door every minute of the day. 

When you have shaky moments of doubt, think about why you chose to get clean and sober.  Let that be an inspiration to you. Revisiting your primary objective of becoming and staying sober will strengthen you through moments of weakness.  Keep a keen eye on what you want for yourself, and always remember – you are absolutely capable of maintaining a successful recovery from addiction.