What does it take to get clean and sober?
Obviously the key is in abstaining from drug and alcohol use but we all know that the problem is a bit deeper than that. If we cannot form some sort of system for living (a program if you will) then we are likely to end up relapsing due to the complicated nature of addiction.
Any addiction infiltrates your life in many areas. It takes over the whole person. It cuts deep. Addiction is not a surface-level problem. It affects every part of a person’s life. It affects the core of who they are.
So is it enough to simply stop using drugs and alcohol? Of course not. If it was, then it would not really qualify as being an addiction.
So the question is, what does it really take to make it in recovery? What are the critical actions necessary to recovery?
Here’s my take on it:
Surrender – you have to stop struggling to control your using and get off the hamster wheel. This is a release of sorts. You let go. If you skip this step, you can’t really even get started on recovery; you can’t really become open to learning.
Learning – If you want to recover then you have to learn a new way to live. This involves a LOT of learning.
Ask for help – in order to learn, you have to ask for guidance and direction from someone. If you do not do this, then you cannot gain new information about how to live in recovery. You can’t figure out how to change your life.
Zero tolerance policy – you can’t put any drugs or alcohol into your body. Period. (This one is sort of a biggie). In fact, you can ignore all the other ideas in this post if you just stick to this one, and you’ll still stay clean and sober. But you might need some help in order to make it all work.
Communicate – you have to reach out to others and talk about your addiction. This is important. If you do not find an outlet for communicating about recovery and addiction then you are in danger of relapsing.
Self analysis / exploration / inventory – you have to take an honest look at yourself and make an honest assessment of your person. If you have traits that will eventually sabotage your recovery then you have to take action to correct those tendencies.
Self esteem – you have to purposefully build self esteem in order to build a layer of protection against relapse. If you value yourself highly then you are less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol. Building this self esteem can best be accomplished through personal growth and development.
Holistic health – this is the level that you want to live at, where you are consciously taking care of yourself in every way possible. You should try to grow in different areas of your life and take care of yourself emotionally, spiritually, physically, and so on. This is the “total picture” of good recovery that you want to be living in. This is the path to long term sobriety.