These are the crucial steps for staying sober, regardless of the recovery plan that you're working on or NOT working on. If you're not doing this, you're working on a relapse.
The point of getting sober is that you have the freedom to choose who you want to be in a relationship with, and who you don't. Being sober is about having freedom. And to be honest, being sober is much, much easier than being an active addiction.
Think about all the time, energy, effort, planning, scheming, hiding, worrying, and feeling guilty. Think of all the time and energy you put into doing all those things in active addiction. Guess what? In sobriety, you don't have to do any of those things.
Make a plan.
You have to plan on how to stay and keep your sobriety. Just like you had to plan out how you would use, get it, get away with it.
The first category in planning for sobriety needs to be the big sort of overall general, how you're going to keep yourself in a good place. We all know that when we're in a not-good place, we're a lot more likely to make bad choices.
In the big picture plan, you have to have a plan on how to keep your sanity, including dealing with old trauma. It could include managing underlying reasons that may have been driving the addiction, but it can also include managing your daily stresses.
So how are you going to manage your sanity? How are you going to keep yourself sane and stable? Doing this is crucial for maintaining sobriety, especially in the early days. There are lots of ways you can do this. You can have a counselor or recovery coach. You'll need a good, trustworthy sounding board to help you sort through things to keep your head on right.
The other piece that goes under this sanity management category is keeping the TRUTH front and center.
You may be thinking, Amber, what do you mean by the truth? I mean, the truth about your addiction, the truth about what you're capable of and not capable of when it comes to things surrounding that addiction. The person manages to convince themselves that they can do whatever they were doing before, but do it differently and get a different outcome. That might look like:
1. I'm just going to drink or use on the weekend.
2. I'm just going to drink or use on vacation.
3. I'm only going to use this substance and not that substance.
The sneaky thoughts will come in about ways to do it slightly differently, but keep it in yours. My guess is, that you've tried to do that a multitude of times, and it hasn't worked.
Some ways can help keep that truth front and center, but usually, it involves keeping yourself connected to recovery.
For some people, that means going to meetings, reading recovery books, listening to recovery podcasts, or attending regular meetings with their recovery coach, sponsor, or addiction counselor.
A lot of people have this thought when they first get sober, like, I just want to put it behind me. I want to stay sober. That was a terrible part of my life. I'm embarrassed by it. I'm ashamed of it. I don't want to talk about it. I don't want to think about it when I close the door on it and put it behind me, and that's completely understandable.
If we think about it, we can relate to that. The problem is when we want to shut it so far behind us, it leaves room for the truth to kind of slot away and the untruth to sneak in there, and the bargaining starts happening.
The big picture plan has to involve sanity management. Which could be exercising, counseling, going to church or reading self-help books. The truth is, addiction is going to start talking to you.
It's going to start trying to tell you lies again. Think of it like a crabby ex-boyfriend or girlfriend that tries to weasel their way back in. You have to remember why that relationship didn't work.
This is going to be different. That is the big picture plan.
If you need a regular recovery program, I'll put a link HERE for our recovery to go program, it's a flexible online program because you can access it anytime from anywhere on your terms completely.
The second category for planning is to make sure you keep your sobriety. The second category is what I like to call making a plan to deal with high-risk or danger zone situations.
These are difficult situations, so I'll give some secret steps on getting through those high-risk times or tempting times, or difficult conversations. There will be events with family members, co-workers, and more difficult times where it might be extra tempting to fall back into old behavior.
Here are the steps for how you need to make your plan to get around those kinds of situations. Number one step, this is important--I want you to plan ahead of time before you get to the event before it happens. I want you to let whoever will be at these events know that you're not going to be drinking, using, engaging in whatever behavior, gambling, whatever the behavior was.
The best way to do that is to tell people that you're in recovery. Then you don't have to get asked a hundred times if you want to drink and say no 500 times, right?
If you're not ready to tell people that you're in recovery or don't want to, maybe it's a work event that you might have your reasons for. Then make up another reason. Let them know you're not drinking and using because you're on a diet, have to take a drug test for your probation officer, or you're supporting your wife. Have a reason and tell people ahead of time.
Another thing you can do to make getting through those kinds of situations easier is to decide what you're going to do instead. Maybe if you're trying to stop drinking, bring what you want to drink instead.
What are you going to hold in your hand instead of alcohol?
Who are you going to talk to?
What are you going to do instead of the old behavior?
Another thing you can do to help yourself get through these kinds of difficult situations is to ask for what you need. If you're going to be in a high-risk situation, bring someone with you who knows the deal and ask them for the support you need.
Maybe you need them to run interference for you, or you need them to be your sober wingman.
Trust me, the people in your life that know what's up will love having a job because they want to help you and support you, but they don't know what to do. So tell people what to do and what's helpful. They'll appreciate it. In turn, that will make the process easier for you.
If you're not taking care of those two categories, the two categories being the overall big picture plan, which is the sanity management and the truth-telling, and the little picture plan, which is the, how do I get through specific difficult situations? Then you don't obtain a good relapse prevention plan.