How to Make Your Recovery a Long-term Relationship

You’ve arrived. Detoxed. Completed primary treatment. Lived in a sober living residence. Made it back into your own place to call home. Now what?

First of all, let’s not minimize your accomplishments. You’re to be commended for what you’ve already achieved. However, it’s important to remember that sobriety is a journey, not a destination. Now that you’re well on your path to a lifetime of sobriety, consider embracing a few of the following ideas to stay the course.

1. Your recovery journey is your own.

Just as everyone’s life experiences are different, their routes to sober living can be dramatically different as well. Keep in mind that there’s no “right way” to practice recovery, and try to keep an open mind and refrain from judging others if their choices vary from your own.

2. Fuel your recovery with healthy choices.

Healthy choices are more than abstinence. Go back to the basics for this one: Are you getting enough sleep? Engaging in physical activities/exercise? Eating healthy, regular meals? Give your body (and your mind) what it needs to support your continued recovery efforts.

3. Practice accountability.

Attend 12-step meetings and make sure you continue to keep regular appointments with your sobriety support network, whether that’s made up of friends who know what you’re going through, therapists who’ve helped you get to where you are today, or mentors you’ve grown to rely on. If you make plans to meet or call, keep them.

4. Don’t look to reinvent the wheel.

Hopefully, you learned some valuable skills for coping with life stressors while you were in rehabilitation and participating in group and individual therapy. Keep practicing mindfulness, identifying tricky situations and potential triggers, and rehearsing your action plan for how you will handle those circumstances before you find yourself struggling.

5. Pay it forward. One of the best ways to “get out of your own head” is to turn that attention to someone else.

Helping others doesn’t have to entail an elaborate volunteer schedule. You can look for simple ways to brighten someone’s day. Take an elderly neighbor to the grocery store. Help a single mom with some yard work. Walk dogs at the nearby animal shelter. Connecting with others has a number of benefits: It makes you feel like a valued part of the larger community, helps you rediscover your self-worth, and sometimes even leads to a job lead or introduction to a new friend.

Above all else, understand the lifetime implications of sobriety. It’s something you can work on, slip and make a mistake, rededicate yourself to it, and focus on to find new, healthier habits that help you live a prosperous life. Enjoy the journey, try not to get overwhelmed, and remember to show yourself some kindness along the way.

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