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Optimism and gratitude. These qualities have to do with being able to roll with the punches and cope with the ups and downs that life and recovery will certainly dole out. Happy people manage to find opportunities, even in difficult or negative situations. They may mourn and grieve losses, but they don't lose hope or predict negative outcomes. Studies indicate that optimistic thinking can help people feel better mentally, emotionally and physically. If you work on integrating these seven principles into your life, as you continue to work your program, you just may find that relapse prevention is a positive and fun part of being sober.
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Remember why you are there. It's easy to forget why you came to rehab when you're feeling bad, physically or mentally. Stay focused on the reasons you need sobriety when you feel like giving up.
Ask questions. The rehab experience should be a daily learning process. Don't be afraid to ask questions, big and small, so that you understand what you need to know and do while you're there.
Be present. Stay in the moment and focus on what is happening right now instead of worrying about what life will be like when your program ends.
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Follow the rules (even if you don't like them). It can be tough for an addict to follow the rules. But this is a great place to learn how to manage your own behavior and maintain good relationships with people around you. Your rehab experience will be much more positive if you're not causing problems for other people.
Making Up Damage. There is a good chance that you did things to other people - or failed to do things that you should have - while you were an addict, and that these actions or omissions caused a certain amount of upset or animosity. However happy your loved ones may be to have you back sober and healthy, realize that as time goes on you might start to see the influence of old wounds in their behavior towards you. As soon as possible, find a way to repair any damage that you may have done and go above and beyond to make things right.
Find Out What Is Expected of You. Another step that you should take in regards to your relationships with family and friends is to speak with them and find out what they expect you to do, how they hope that you will behave in dealing with them, and what they need from you. If, for example, you got started drinking or using drugs as a teenager, and you are now in your late 20's or early 30's, life is very different now from how it was when you were last sober and a functioning member of the family, so it's time to establish the roles and expectation in those relationships. This discussion is not only for your sake. They have gotten used to seeing you as an addict, and have grown accustomed to thinking of you within that framework and will have a tendency to keep acting towards you that way - or might expect too much now that you are sober and “everything is different.” Talking about expectations will help them to take a look at the situation in present time and form more realistic standards moving forward.
Do That. It's enough work to take the time to discuss in detail what exactly is going to be expected of you by your family and friends, but now you have to actually follow through on it. You beat the habit of drinking or using drugs, and now is the time to change your other habits in terms of how you relate to people, how you handle your obligations, what you do for them and more. The people you spoke with may have been duly impressed that you were interested in what they thought and wanted to take their expectations into consideration, but what will really impress them, and help you cement stable relationships, is if you follow through on what you said you would do, now and in the long term.
Find Sober Friends. You cannot keep spending time with the people you used to drink or use drugs with. No matter how much they may say that they support you in your sobriety, the fact is that they do not. Some may be paying lip service to this, but even those who really do think it is a good thing that you have gotten sober do not really support it, because by the fact of their own continued substance abuse they are essentially headed in the opposite direction from the one you have chosen for yourself. Furthermore, even if your time with these people does not include times when they are getting high or drunk, there is a chance that being around these people will have a tendency to restimulate your own memories and make you experience cravings. No amount of sentimentality is worth your sobriety, your health and happiness in the years ahead.
Find New Activities. When you were an addict, your life most likely revolved around drinking or getting high. The times when you weren't actually engaged in substance abuse were probably dominated by thoughts of how you would get your next fix, and you likely had everything arranged around making it possible for you to do so. What will you do with your time now? Addiction has left a vacuum in your life, and now is the time for you to fill that vacuum with something constructive, engaging and enjoyable. Find a new hobby, start volunteering, pursue education that will help you further your career, or do anything else which will set your new life on the right path.
Get Treatment for Mental Illness – Substance abuse is strongly correlated with mental illness. If you struggle with depression, anxiety, a personality disorder or another psychiatric condition, seek help from a mental health professional rather than self-medicating with drugs or alcohol.
Get Some Buddies. It works for Girl Scouts, depressives, and addicts of all kinds. I remember having to wake up my buddy to go pee in the middle of the night at Girl Scout camp. That was right before she rolled off her cot, out of the tent and down the hill, almost into the creek. Our job as buddies is to help each other not roll out of the tent and into the stream, and to keep each other safe during midnight bathroom runs. My buddies are the six numbers programmed into my cell phone, the voices that remind me sometimes as many as five times a day: “It will get better.”
Read Away the Craving. Books can be buddies too! And when you are afraid of imposing on others like I am, they serve as wonderful reminders to stay on course. When I'm in a weak spot, especially with regard to addictive temptations, I place a book next to my addiction object: the Big Book (the Bible) goes next to the liquor cabinet; some 12-step pamphlet gets clipped to the freezer (home to frozen Kit Kats, Twix, and dark chocolate Hershey bars); and I'll get out Melody Beattie before e-mailing an apology to someone who just screwed me over.
Be Accountable to Someone. In the professional world, what is the strongest motivator for peak performance? Twelve-step groups use this method–called accountability–to keep people sober and on the recovery wagon. Everyone has a sponsor, a mentor to teach them the program, to guide them toward physical, mental, and spiritual health. Today several people together serve as my emotional “sponsor,” keeping me accountable for my actions: Mike (my writing mentor), my therapist, my doctor, Fr. Dave, Deacon Moore, Eric, and my mom. Having these folks around to divulge my misdeeds to is like confession–it keeps the list of sins from getting too long.