1. Get Connected to a Sober Community
One of the most important things you can do to maintain your sobriety is to get connected to a sober community. There are many different groups and organizations that have formed to provide group support that is in alignment with one’s cultural values. While Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has been the traditional go-to group for support, it is no longer the only game in town. Refuge Recovery is rooted in Buddhist principles and emphasizes mindfulness, Celebrate Recovery is Christian-based and is offered at many churches, and SMART recovery is oriented more specifically to skills and cognitive strategies. These are just a few of the many different variations of groups that can meet your cultural needs and support your recovery.
2. Hold Yourself Accountable
Technology has come a long way and there are several apps that can help you track your recovery time and connect with others who have similar interests. “The Phoenix: An Active Sober Recovery Community” is an app that focuses on your physical health in recovery. Recovery Path and WEConnect Recovery are also user-friendly apps that help you build community and keep yourself accountable through reminders and trackers.
3. Get an Individual Therapist
Getting an individual therapist is helpful in addressing any issues someone may have had that were overshadowed by the addiction. Often in addiction treatment, there is so much focus on substance use that other aspects of a person may not be addressed. When they complete treatment, any relationship challenges, depression, or anxiety may still be prevalent in their lives. That is why this one is so important. A therapist can help you identify and address any underlying issues that may be affecting your recovery.
4. Revisit Your Treatment Materials
Programs often provide a binder, manual, handbook, or handouts that clients can take with them to review once they complete their program. These materials are generally helpful beyond the treatment program and can be easy tools that are also familiar to utilize when in situations that may be risky to your recovery. Revisiting these materials can be a great reminder of the skills and strategies you learned in treatment and can help you stay focused on your recovery.
5. Identify a “Safe Friend”
Identifying a “safe friend” is someone you know, who knows you, and who can be honest with you when you are walking a fine line between recovery and returning to use. You can come up with a word or phrase to say to this person that lets them know you need support. In some cases, this can be who is called a “sponsor” in some recovery communities, but it can also be a trusted friend who can support you through difficult life transitions.
6. Keep an Eye on Your Triggers
After treatment, it is common to be on what is often called a “pink cloud” where nothing can go wrong and you feel very confident in your recovery. This is not a bad thing! The risk comes when there is overconfidence in recovery or minimization of how your triggers may impact you, and then you put yourself in an avoidable situation. Don’t let your ego get in the way of your recovery. Remain diligent in paying attention to your triggers and doing whatever needs to be done to return to a healthy lifestyle.
7. Be Patient with Yourself
The road to recovery is not an easy one. The only way to get to a destination is one step at a time. Recovery is not a sprint, and it is not linear. There are many ups and downs in life, and it is ok to have difficulties. Being patient and giving yourself grace can really improve your perspective on situations that may be less than ideal.