Committing to sobriety is a great first step toward recovery, but expecting overnight results can lead to disappointment. Here’s how to put yourself in the right frame of mind.
With a new year comes the promise of a fresh start and a chance to reset your mind for a healthier year ahead. If you struggle with addiction, the mental “reset” button of January 1 can give you motivation to seek help or make positive changes, but it’s important to approach them with the right expectations. Focusing on your mindset, rather than your behavior, can help you harness the power of New Year’s Day optimism in a way that inspires long-lasting change, even if you face setbacks. Here are five ways to reset your mind for recovery in the New Year:
Don’t Fixate On New Year’s Resolutions
Although the New Year can feel like an opportune time for a clean slate, research shows that resolutions may end up harming your chances for success.
Not only do resolutions set an unrealistic expectation that you won’t make mistakes, but they can also leave you vulnerable to “last hurrah” thinking. Reasoning that you’ll never use again once the clock strikes midnight, you become more likely to escalate your use before then. In reality, you’ll face the same daily triggers that initially led to addiction. With some substances, you may even face dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Without medical assistance and healthy coping mechanisms, you face a greater likelihood of relapse.
An artificial deadline can also create an unnecessary mental roadblock to starting your recovery. By waiting for a “good” time to heal, whether it’s the New Year, your birthday, or the start of next week, you risk putting it off indefinitely. Instead, give yourself a new mantra: Everyday is a good day for recovery.
Acknowledging small victories can help. Rather than committing to total behavioral change starting January 1, celebrate your incremental progress instead. By focusing on progress rather than daily perfection, the slip-ups that might have “ruined” a New Year’s resolution simply become part of the overall recovery journey.
Start Your Journey with Support
As you prepare your mind for recovery, it’s important to remember that addiction is a disease. You can no more “quit” an addiction than you can any other illness. Your mind and body need time to heal. Replacing the word “quit” with “heal” can help you reset your mind to think of addiction in a healthier way. Quitting substance abuse doesn’t happen overnight, your mind and body must heal over time.
Starting your road to recovery with professional treatment gives you access to the medical care and resources necessary to start that healing process. Professional treatment can also help you identify underlying issues, such as mental illness or PTSD, that may be contributing to your substance abuse. These issues, or co-occurring disorders, require separate attention from addiction treatment to prevent a return to self-medication.
At a professional treatment center, medical staff will help you understand your co-occurring disorder and how it affects your vulnerability to addiction. Your clinicians will also connect you with resources to learn how to cope in healthy ways. In some cases, you may be referred to counseling or cognitive behavioral therapy. In others, you may also be prescribed medication.
Whatever your unique situation, by starting your journey in treatment, you give yourself the necessary resources to recover.
Commit to Lifelong Health, Not a Cure
When you’re ready to break free from the burden of addiction, it can be tempting to look for a quick fix. Unfortunately, focusing only on physical dependence often leads only to temporary results. Up to 60% of clients who enter rehab for drug or alcohol addiction will relapse within a year without further treatment.
Committing to improve your lifelong health and happiness, rather than simply “getting over” addiction, can help you avoid becoming part of that statistic. This means treating each phase of recovery as part of ongoing self-care, rather than a means to an end. For those who achieve lifelong recovery from substance abuse, it’s often the small, daily commitments to wellness that make the difference.
Acknowledge the “Addiction Void”
For many who have struggled with drugs or alcohol, emotional recovery is more complicated than overcoming physical dependence. Sobriety often means eliminating a once-pleasurable activity. It may even mean saying good-bye to a familiar lifestyle and friends.
Despite the victory of reclaiming your life from addiction, the transition to “everyday life” can still leave a void that takes time to fill. For some, it’s this void, rather than a trigger or craving, that leads to relapse.
“Sobriety often means eliminating a once-pleasurable activity. It may even mean saying good-bye to a familiar lifestyle and friends.”
Resetting your mind to allow for feelings of loss, fear, frustration and even nostalgia as you learn to rebuild your identity can help you better process the complicated emotions that may accompany recovery. Ongoing counseling or cognitive behavioral therapy may help you develop coping mechanisms for many of these emotions.
Practicing self care can also help you quiet your mind in the early days of recovery. To slow down your thoughts, give yourself permission to recharge. Play video games, watch a mindless movie, or indulge in cat videos online. Getting enough sleep and exercise can also help to restore natural dopamine levels and allow your mind to heal.
Build a Support System
Addiction can be a highly personal battle, but accepting help from others can help. Often, it can be the difference between persevering through the difficult phases of recovery and feeling too discouraged to continue.
Your support system might include friends and family who become your sounding board and cheerleaders, clinicians who create your personalized treatment program and see you through the challenging detox phase, and psychologists who provide ongoing therapy and support. Friends and family can also help you manage day-to-day obligations while you enter treatment.
Support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous and even online forums can also become part of your support system. When you think of recovery as a collaborative effort, taking the first step toward treatment can feel less intimidating.
Tips for Friends & Family
Friends and family can also benefit from a new perspective on addiction. Here are a few tips to provide effective emotional and practical support in the New Year:
Learn how drugs affect the mind. Learning the physical aspects of addiction and some of the mental obstacles that addicts face can help you empathize with your loved one’s struggles, and better understand their behavior at different points in recovery.
Read More: The Science Behind Addictive Behavior
Encourage professional treatment. Gently encourage loved ones to seek professional treatment, emphasizing the importance of medical assistance to safely overcoming withdrawal.
Read More: 8 Benefits of a Residential Treatment Center
Consider an intervention. Sometimes, even with the right mindset and the motivation to recover, taking that first step can feel overwhelming. Interventions, done the right way, can help your loved one feel supported enough to seek treatment.
Read More: 5 Intervention Mistakes to Avoid
How to Get Help
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction heading, know that help is a phone call away. At Sprout Health Group, we offer personalized treatment for lifelong recovery. Focusing on all aspects of the healing process, we guide you from detox to aftercare. Call the number below to speak with an experienced clinician about taking the first step toward nurturing support in 2020.