There are several simple ways to feel better in long term recovery from addiction or alcoholism.
First of all we need to assume some basics. One, that you are clean and sober and continuing on with your plan to stick with recovery. If this is not the case then you need to take a step back and deal with your denial and possible ask for help at a different level. In other words, you may need to go to inpatient treatment if you are still abusing drugs or alcohol, or you might need to talk with a therapist if you are struggling with an immediate threat of relapse. Or you may need to reach out to your sponsor in AA or NA or your peers. At any rate, the concepts here are really for someone who is already in recovery from addiction and they have achieved a baseline of stability.
So you want to feel better in recovery, what exactly should your plan include? To start with I would make two immediate suggestions which we will explore both of: Identify your pain points, and use an holistic road map to recovery.
So let’s talk about your pain points. If you want to feel better in recovery then you need to take away your major pain points first. Without doing this, you are always going to have certain pain points that are nagging at your and robbing you of peace and serenity.
In other words, it is not enough to simply pursue the positive in recovery–you must also eliminate the negative.
So how do you identify your pain points? One way is by talking them out with a therapist. Another way to do it yourself is to meditate, sit quietly, and then start watching what thoughts are popping up for you. Whatever keeps popping up is your source of anxiety and stress, and you may need to deal with it.
Once you identify your pain points you need to prioritize. What is your biggest and most pressing pain point right now? Again, you can figure this out through meditation or by talking with out with someone else. But you should be able to answer the question: “What is the one thing in my life that, if I fixed it, would bring me the most stress relief?” That is a good question to help you prioritize your biggest pain point.
So once you identify what it is and you prioritize it, then you focus in on a single issue and you deal with it. Ask for help if necessary. Get advice from people about how to overcome that particular problem. And then put all of your efforts into overcoming that pain point. Make a huge effort to deal with it, make it your life’s work for the moment. Really try with everything you’ve got.
Then, once you have conquered that particular pain point, move on to the next one. Prioritize. Keep asking for help and advice and keep moving forward in this way. Again, if you fail to eliminate these pain points then you will never really achieve peace and serenity in your recovery journey.
Now the second suggestion is to use a holistic approach when making a plan for long term sobriety. Keep in mind that if you are very early recovery then this suggestion does not really apply yet. If you are in very early recovery then you need to focus on making it through each day clean and sober, going to treatment, and following the advice and direction that you get from people in recovery programs. Early recovery demands focus. Do not spread your efforts too thin when in early recovery. You need to concentrate your efforts instead.
But in long term sobriety this shifts a bit. Now you need to consider your overall health in life so that you do not get tripped up by any one trigger.
What does this mean? People relapse for all sorts of different reasons. For example, you could go through a really emotional breakup in your recovery journey and this could lead you to relapse. Or you could suffer an injury and start taking pain medication and suddenly realize that you are abusing the medicine rather than taking it as prescribed. Or you could suffer a spiritual relapse and become selfish and ungrateful to the point that you eventually relapse.
In other words, before a physical relapse happens, you may relapse emotionally, or spiritually, or mentally, or any number of different ways. There are a million different triggers that might set a person off.
So how do we protect ourselves from all of these various triggers? Isn’t that impossible?
No it is not impossible. You can live a life in recovery in such a way that you are protecting yourself from these various threats of relapse. The key is in the holistic approach.
So in the long run, you must consider your own personal growth and your own personal health in terms of various categories: Physical health and fitness, mental stability, emotional stability, spirituality and gratitude, social health and being around positive people, and so on. It is not enough to excel in just one of these areas while the rest of them just sort of limp along. You must make a real effort to improve your life in these specific areas or one of them could lead you to relapse in the future.
Many people believe that the solution is entirely spiritual. This is not accurate. If you focus only on spirituality to the exclusion of these other categories then you will eventually relapse. I say eventually because life is random and it can be cyclical. So you may be fine for today in terms of your physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual health. But at some point any one of those categories may present a challenge and a trigger to you. And so if you are not actively working to improve those areas of your life then you are vulnerable to relapse.
The other benefit of living this way is that you are always on a path of personal growth. You are always on a path of self improvement. And therefore your life just keeps getting better and better over time. This is an amazing experience if you can achieve this state of continuous self improvement.