If you’ve achieved sobriety for even one day, take a moment. Moments can lead to long-term sobriety. Exercise gratitude. Feel thankful for your sobriety. For some, dealing with sobriety presents a completely new way of life.
Sobriety challenges us. It means setting boundaries. Telling ourselves “no.” Developing new habits and untangling old ones. It means taking time to evaluate the past. To learn what led us to our current place.
In this article, you’ll learn the following methods for how to achieve long-term sobriety:
● Finding a why
● Understanding the consequences of substance use
● Setting appropriate boundaries for yourself
● Investing in positive relationships
● Caring for the whole you
Finding A Why
In Twilight Of The Idols, Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, “If a man knows the wherefore of his existence, then the manner of it can take care of itself.” Or, to paraphrase Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search For Meaning, we don’t ask life for meaning. Rather, life asks us to provide the meaning. Life presents us with circumstances – good, bad, and all points in between. In these circumstances lie opportunities. Opportunities for us to define what matters most.
Finding a why helps you understand what’s at stake in your recovery journey. Sobriety gives you clarity. Clarity to think and plan. To discern where you’ve come from. And to aim at where you’re going. Defining this meaning forms the bedrock of your long-term sobriety.
From that bedrock, you can cultivate concrete actions that will improve your life. A person doesn’t become sober simply because they like being sober. You need a reason. Sobriety is the means. Your reason is the end.
Understanding The Consequences Of Substance Use
Having established the why for your sobriety, you’ll have something to strive for. Something to protect. Something worth fighting for. Your reason for sobriety represents something you’re ready to stand in front of. To defend. One research study indicated that 46% of participants viewed escalating consequences of substance use as their main motivation for long-term sobriety.
Effects of long-term substance use manifest in the body. Even prescription medications can harm the body. As an example, consider benzodiazepines. Diazepam (Valium) works best in increments no longer than 4 weeks. Anything longer could result in dependence and/or benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome.
Long-term substance use can result in heart and lung problems. Opioids, when used for too long, can compromise your immune system. Prolonged use of cocaine puts consumers at higher risk for strokes and seizures. These kinds of physical consequences present a threat to your why. And as a result, they present a threat to your long-term sobriety.
Mental And Psychological Consequences
Drug use physically changes the structure of the brain. These changes occur as a result of neuroplasticity, your brain’s ability to alter and adapt. Historically, this trait helped our ancestors survive in hostile environments. But long-term drug use does not equate with long-term survival.
Long-term drug use interferes with neurons in the brain. Over time, the brain begins to work much differently. Severe effects of some drugs, like opioids and benzodiazepines, include psychosis and hallucinations. Furthermore, mental illnesses also occur comorbidly with drug use. So, while drug use may not cause mental illness, it can certainly aggravate a pre-existing mental illness. And make it much worse.
Long-term sobriety makes you more employable. Using drugs at work, or coming to work after using, can get you terminated. Furthermore, even those who have undergone treatment may face difficulties finding gainful employment.
Relationships with friends and family can suffer as well. Excessive alcohol consumption has adverse effects on marriage and parenting. Research demonstrates a very strong link between alcohol abuse and domestic violence. Look at long-term sobriety as a way to repair interpersonal relationships. Or even to form new ones.
Setting Appropriate Boundaries For Yourself
Sticking with long-term sobriety means setting boundaries. It means saying “no” to some things, and saying “yes” to others. As earlier established, you’ve found a why. So you’ll need to keep potential threats at bay.
In practice, this might mean that you recognize cues. Cues, or triggers, act as signals that cause you to crave something. Long-term sobriety gives to the space to become aware of these cues. Your cues might be specific places, people, or circumstances. Once you’re aware of them, you can put strategies in place for eliminating them from your life.
Investing In Positive Relationships
In recovery, you found social support among others. You entrenched yourself in relationships that encouraged your long-term sobriety. You weren’t dealing with sobriety alone. For long-term sobriety to last, you must form relationships that contribute to your new lifestyle.
Research indicates that positive relationships predict long-term sober living. Relationships require investments of time and emotional capital. As part of your recovery journey, you may need to rectify relationships with those closest to you. You can strengthen relationships you already have. You also have the power and agency to form new ones.
Caring For The Whole You
You have a body and a mind. You have a self. Some might call it a spirit or psyche. You must view yourself as someone who deserves care. And that care must encompass the whole you. Your long-term sobriety must involve measures that address all of you.
When taking care of your body, find a sustainable healthy diet. Recent research suggests that ketogenic diets help alleviate alcohol withdrawal symptoms. But ketogenic diets might not be sustainable for everyone. Try different ways of eating and find one that works for your lifestyle. Apply the same metric to physical training. An exercise program like yoga helps reduce stress and depression.
Your mind needs care as well. One of the best ways to care for your mind is to give it rest. Protect your sleep. Set up safeguards so that you get adequate sleep nightly. Your long-term sobriety will thank you. Meditation has positive mental effects for sobriety as well.
Still, Have Questions About How To Achieve Long-Term Sobriety?
Don’t hesitate another second! If you’d like to know more about how to achieve long-term sobriety, call Harmony Treatment & Wellness now at 772-247-6180.