Combating Relapse with Happiness
Getting clean and sober isn’t easy, but it is worth it. There are going to be times when you will be uncomfortable. It will be difficult to deal with the emotions you have been masking with drugs and alcohol. You will feel sad about giving up certain “friends” and some days, you will feel like sobriety is just not worth it. However, the struggle will subside if you maintain your sobriety by remaining grateful, practicing kindness, and showing off your strengths. You’ll watch life change for the better right before your eyes.
Alcohol and drugs are known for causing you to feel isolated and depressed about your life choices. You will look back and feel shame for stealing the money out of your mom’s purse, lying to your friends, and sitting back and watching you kill yourself. Living in recovery allows you to begin to forgive yourself for the harm you caused, teach you to love yourself again, and help you follow your dreams for a better brighter future.
What is Relapse?
Relapse can become a part of your journey to recovery, but it doesn’t have to be. Suffering a relapse is when you were abstinent for a certain period of time from drugs and/or alcohol and use again. In order to prevent a relapse, it is a good idea to seek out individuals who have suffered a relapse and are back in recovery, working a solid 12-step program, and learn from their mistakes so you don’t make your own.
If you end up relapsing, don’t be too hard on yourself because everybody makes mistakes. Sometimes, you need that learning experience to identify with your triggers so you can avoid relapse in the future. A trigger can be something as simple as walking into an old gas station where you used to pick up drugs or buy alcohol, driving past a house you used to hang out at, or running into an old friend you used to get loaded with. When relapse occurs, you will establish your boundaries, and learn from your mistakes so you don’t have to suffer a relapse again.
The guilt, shame, and remorse you feel after your relapse is a feeling you couldn’t fathom unless you’ve been there. If the relapse does not kill you, it will eat at your soul, filling you with regret.
That begs the question, how can you practice positive thinking to increase the chances of not only getting clean and sober, but remaining there?
In the midst of your recovery it may not have occurred to ask others what happiness means to them. As part of the 12- step program it’s important to learn how to combat relapse with happiness. You will get several different suggestions on how to prevent relapse such as; working the steps, going to meetings, and staying connected to your higher power. Make sure to try them out, see what makes you happy, and make a routine out of it. Taking these three steps, one day at a time is suggested for a positive and happy life in recovery.
Remaining grateful is a quality you need to grasp on to in the very beginning of your recovery in order to deal with the stressors of life that could trigger a relapse. Gratitude is something beautiful, reminding you to be thankful for the little things. Practicing gratitude starts with setting aside time for reflection, prayer, and meditation.
During prayer, ask your higher power to direct your thinking – asking that it be expelled from self-seeking intentions, dishonesty, and despair. Make sure to always ask how you can be of service to others and not to pray for your own self-seeking ends. Under these circumstances you will be much more at ease, content, and feel happiness thorough the day making the thought to drink or use drugs irrelevant.
Meditation is where you will sit, think, and reflect on your day. While reflecting on the 24-hours ahead, set a simple goal for yourself such as getting the laundry done, taking the dog for a walk, or practicing honesty through the day. When you retire for the night, take a moment for reflection. Make sure to praise yourself for your accomplishments no matter how minuscule, thank your higher power for getting you through the 24-hours without a relapse, and ask how you can give back what was freely given to you.
Practicing kindness by being of service is important. Helping a fellow addict is a great way to remain happy in recovery. Doing things for others with expecting nothing in return is not as hard as it seems. Being kind is as simple as helping the old lady take her groceries to her car. Smiling is often consider contagious, so smile!
Remember to always be of service. When going to a meeting, hold the door open before the meeting and greet each person with a hug. This will show other recovering addicts you are serious about your recovery and allow you to build a solid foundation of friends; true friends that will always be there to lift you up in hard times. Building personal relationships will help you grow spiritually and remind you that being sober is the best choice you could have ever made.
Because you are growing in your recovery by practicing kindness, you will begin to feel comfortable enough to help a newcomer, someone who is also in early recovery, fighting for their life. Greet them at the door and ask to take them to coffee after the meeting. Share with them your experience, strength, and hope. Give away what was freely given to you, watch them grow in their recovery. This will allow you to remain hopeful in your own, reminding you anything is possible.
Recovery works only if you work it.
What are your Strengths?
Growing in recovery will teach you where your strong points are; your strengths. You can show strength in every aspect in your life; progress not perfection. A great quality to have is self-acceptance. Remind yourself of that qualities and sharing it with another recovering addict.
Self-acceptance is something you will learn throughout your journey, but also something that you’ll never conquer. Even people who are not battling addiction struggle with accepting themselves the way they are. That said, recovering addicts tend to be more sensitive on this topic, putting the risk for relapse at high.
Accept that you have the disease of addiction, accept that you need to apply the 12-steps in your life because without them you would be dead, accept and flaunt the person you have become and sobriety will do wonders.
Recovery is Worth it
Practicing these three principals, while continuing to work a solid program, you might find relapse prevention is an encouraging and enjoyable experience. You will know a new freedom, repair burnt bridges, and go back to living life on life’s terms. Living in happiness, true happiness, is a gift from your higher power – remember to cherish it.