When you are actively addicted to drugs or alcohol, part of your problem is that relying on substances became a habit. A habit is a behavior that is done regularly, usually without thinking much about it. Most habits are pretty hard to break. By abusing alcohol or drugs, you have been in the habit of running away from reality and avoiding feelings that are unpleasant. These are habits that need to be replaced with healthier choices. Good habits are developed by reminding yourself to repeat a certain behavior until it becomes something you do daily without thinking about it. Most likely you have already developed some healthy habits such as brushing your teeth or participating in physical exercise or meditation. The actions that it takes to lead a sober life can also become something that you don’t have to think about.
Go to Meetings and Join a Group
One of the first good habits to develop once you are sober is to regularly attend meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. By going to meetings, you can learn different interpretations of the 12 steps and hear the experiences that other sober people have had. Gradually it will become clearer to you what you need to do to stay sober. It is suggested that you choose one group to join. By joining a group, you make a commitment to show up at least to that one meeting each week. This allows you to get to know the other members of that group and take responsibility for participating in anything that needs to be done to keep it running. This helps not only you, but also other people who know they can count on seeing you at this particular meeting.
Work With a Sponsor or Recovery Mentor
Choosing one person to be your sponsor is part of the foundation of a sober life. A sponsor can offer you his or her experience, strength and hope, while at the same time he or she can listen to your questions and concerns that you might not want to share with more than one person. Most people think of a sponsor as a lifeline in their recoveries. A sponsor is a teacher, a friend and a voice of wisdom when you need it. If you haven’t found a sponsor who works for you for whatever reason, you may want to get in the habit of working with an addiction professional, such as a counselor. You can also choose to ask someone to sponsor you on a temporary basis even if you don’t feel you are ready to think of that person as a long-term sponsor.
Ask for Help
Asking for help is one of the most important habits to develop in sobriety. Many people ask for help from a power greater than themselves on a daily basis. You will also need to get in the habit of reaching out to other people. You can begin by asking one or more people for their phone numbers every time you go to a meeting. When you are not at meetings, make contact with at least one person each day, even if you have nothing more to say than hello. Knowing how to ask for help is a key tool when you are feeling like your sobriety is shaky. Remember that others don’t know that you are struggling if you don’t tell them. Reach out to other people and let them know when you need help.
Don’t Drink or Drug, No Matter What Happens
Recovery programs teach that you only have to stay away from a drink or a drug one day at a time. Just for this one day, make a choice to stay away from picking up a drink or drug no matter what happens. If it feels like you can’t possibly hang on for a whole day, hang on for one minute at a time. Before you know it, you will be in the habit of making healthier choices when you are feeling stressed or vulnerable. You just have to take the right actions each day, and one day at a time, you can develop the habit of living life without alcohol or drugs.