The 2020 year has finally come to a close which brings a huge sigh of relief for many. The past year was entirely unexpected and difficult not just for Americans but the entire world. The pandemic has completely changed daily routines as it continues to endanger the health and well-being of our lives and of those we love. And for those in recovery, the risks of additional stressors that can trigger potential relapses or even a decline in co-occurring mental health issues has never been greater.
It was a year that, in retrospect, seems to have sped by so fast even as the days had a tendency to go by so slowly. We feel 2020 will go down as the year of change, adaptability, empathy, and–we’ll say it again–change. One aspect that did not change, however, is those pesky New Year’s resolutions. Resolutions that perhaps took on more weight and societal pressure with all our unstructured, quarantine free time.
You can’t talk about resolutions without addressing one of the most infamous ones–using sobriety as a New Year’s resolution for 2021. Whether you are in addiction recovery or a current substance user trying to live healthier by drinking less, at some point sobriety seems like the perfect New Year’s resolution.
Although the promise of sobriety may seem like the perfect way to ring in 2021, a year that is already offering up new promise and hope of life perhaps returning back to normalcy on the horizon, this type of resolution comes with some unfortunate strings attached. Below we take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of using sobriety as a New Year’s resolution.
The Resolution Conundrum
When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, there are a variety of opinions about making (and potentially breaking) these goals. Some feel annoyed by the pressure while others actually strive for their goals, viewing it as a viable opportunity to change. No matter how you feel about New Year’s resolutions, the biggest problem revolves around eliminating something from your life to achieve a positive goal. Resolutions are in no way a bad idea, but many view a resolution as taking away something from their life rather than contributing a positive set of actions to create a better lifestyle.
According to a 2018 article by Forbes, studies show that 5% of people actually stay committed to their resolutions after just 30 days while a staggeringly low only 8% actually accomplish their goals. While you may head out the gate strong in January, the statistics show that by February most individuals have either forgotten or given up on their resolutions. Statistically, these are not figures that you would want to associate with maintaining sobriety.
This is a major problem with using sobriety as a new year’s resolution. For many individuals, it can be an added incentive to improve one’s life, but you must also consider that it adds unnecessary pressure on recovering addicts with an increased potential of failure. You run the risk of potentially tying the fate of your sobriety to unattainable expectations. This can all lead to an increase in the extremes of addict-mind thinking, the “either/or” thought process or what some in recovery have coined as a case of the “F*@# It Alls.” One misstep and all the dominoes fall.
Sobriety is not a one-time resolution but an evolving choice those in recovery make daily. It is a continuous choice that has to be made in the face of numerous obstacles, many of which are unexpected. So while a New Year’s sobriety resolution may seem like a good idea, the history of resolutions as one-off goals does not fit the mold of addiction recovery.
Similar Agenda with Alternative Resolutions
What you can do, however, is set attainable goals that can contribute to long-term sobriety. It is especially helpful too if you can mark off these goals on a daily, weekly, or even monthly list to get a sense of accomplishment.
- Positive speech therapy: Keeping a positive outlook in your phrasing and activities. A simple verbal exercise can involve not saying, “I won’t drink this year.” Rather, change it up and say, “I am sober today” and avoid trigger phrases like “drinking” or even negative adverbs and adjectives like “not” have shown improved results in addiction recovery patients.
- Meditating: Meditation and mindfulness exercises have proven to be effective measures in addiction recovery. These are methods that you can practice by yourself at home. Youtube is full of free guided meditations that can get you started. Just remember that there is no wrong way to meditate and it is more than ok to not be great at meditating right from the start. The majority of people need training wheels to start riding a bike, and meditation is no different. You will start to learn, train your mind, and eventually, get better with practice.
- Exercise or outdoor activities: Take up hiking, biking, or kayaking in your local area and explore all the trails and nature that surround you. It is a great way to learn about your surrounding area and see it through sober eyes. The free app AllTrails is an excellent resource for local trails and nature parks. It also lets you check off which trails or parks you have been to, which can give you a rewarding feeling of accomplishment. The app also features an online community of reviews that can even help you share and stay connected.
- Learning to cook: Eating regular and healthy meals is essential to recovery. Combining that with learning how to cook a certain dish, style, or even just one recipe a week can be an attainable goal that actively promotes sobriety. Youtube is full of a variety of cooking videos that can help teach you the basics or how to prepare a favorite dish. The online cooking channels provide an active, virtual community environment while also pushing recovery patients into creating and learning something new, which are all aspects that will contribute to maintaining a sober lifestyle.
- Attending support group meetings regularly: Attend your support group of choice once a week (or more). The group sessions can highlight aspects of recovery that you may not have experienced yet, as well as offering an opportunity to communicate and commiserate with others. It is another manageable goal that you can check off as an accomplishment that actually helps in promoting your sobriety.
If you are seriously thinking about making sobriety a goal, not a “resolution”, for the New Year, Choice House has the tools, trained staff, and experience to help guide you in making that goal a reality. Located in Boulder County, Colorado, Choice House offers a 90 day in-patient treatment program, intensive outpatient treatment options, as well as further outpatient services that take place on a sober living campus. Our experts at Choice House focus on creating a foundation of love and understanding to promote sobriety through dual diagnosis treatment methods that include various therapeutic modalities. We believe that connection and male bonding are integral to the recovery process, which is why one of our main therapeutic modalities is outdoor experiential therapy. With the Rocky Mountain State Park right in Choice House’s backyard, men are given plenty of time to explore and hike through the scenic environment and build bonds with fellows that will last a lifetime. From outdoor wilderness therapy to psychodrama, each of our therapeutic modalities has been developed to help provide the necessary tools to reintegrate men into their communities. For more information on Choice House and our treatment options, give us a call at (720) 577-4422.