Addiction•Healing•Marriage • 4 minutes to read
Have you ever wanted to change something in your life but feared judgment from your friends or family? When we find ourselves engrossed in a world filled with unhealthy habits, it’s usually formed by years of repeated patterns with people who are also falling into similar situations. Whether friends or family, these people become familiar with our actions, attitude, and how we present ourselves; causing anxiety with the thought of, What if I get rejected if I change? Thoughts and feelings like these are common and you are not alone.
Here are four tips I’ve learned to help you as you venture into your life of sobriety.
1. Figure out your WHY.
For years, I struggled with substance abuse rooted in my love addiction. The idea of quitting and changing would flood my mind with worry-filled questions.
- What would this mean for my friends?
- How would I handle social situations?
- Do I tell my family?
- Will people treat me differently?
The overwhelming amount of questions consumed my mind, and I stayed stuck.
Nevertheless, it was evident that what I was doing was destructive to my body, hurting my marriage, and the people closest to me. Many times I’ve heard it said, you can’t get sober for someone else; it won’t ever stick. Maybe this is true. However, this also could be what you need to get you started. Knowing my actions were beginning to drive a wedge between me and my husband was enough for me to think more seriously about finding sobriety. It was a great start.
My why has since morphed and developed into not only “doing it for others” but I now see the value in living a sober lifestyle for myself and my own health.
2. Identify your TRIGGERS.
The moment I had my last glass of wine and decided to start changing my life was such a pivotal time. God showed me two paths: one with substances that led right back to where I was before; and the other, putting my trust in God. He told me He would give me the strength I needed if I chose Him. I was not surrounded by sober supporters and definitely didn’t know what life was going to look like. But I knew it was needed so I began my journey of being secretly sober. This lasted for about a year and I would be lying if I told you it was easy.
As time passed, I became more confident and found different strategies that helped me survive social situations. For starters, being in certain locations was no longer something I could do. If I went to certain restaurants or bars, or maybe even just drove down a specific street, it would trigger my mind to think of past hurts or maybe reminders of “the good times.” At first, I didn’t notice these as “triggers” but soon realized my thoughts were spiraling.
At the beginning of your journey, identifying triggers may be a challenge but here are a few things to keep in mind when you catch yourself spiraling.
- Where were you earlier in the day?
- Does this place relate to your addiction or past traumas in any way?
- Did you talk to someone who may have caused your mind to wander?
- Have you isolated yourself in any way; have you pulled away from any commitments?
Keeping these questions in mind will help you identify the triggers in your life.
3. Find your GO-TO.
If I ended up being around people drinking and knew it was going to be difficult like at a wedding or a family dinner, coffee was my go-to coping mechanism. If I had a special drink of my own, like coffee, I wouldn’t feel so left out and this would help me not feel triggered or hyper-focused on any unhealthy thoughts. Figuring out an alternative “go-to” can be done by looking at your triggers and seeing what you can and cannot control.
- Instead of taking the same road you always take to work, which goes past the liquor store, take a different route.
- Instead of going to the same restaurant or bar where you and your friends hung out, find a new place that does not have the same triggers.
- Instead of checking social media on your phone, don’t use the apps on your phone and only check social media when on the family computer.
The goal is to eventually have your “go-to” be an accountability partner who you can reach out to when feeling triggered, but in the meantime, there are different strategies that can help you get the ball rolling.
4. Don’t do it ALONE!
The gratitude I feel for God walking with me through my secretly sober year fills my heart. If there is something I can pass on to someone walking through a similar chapter, it would be to find community. Doing it alone is so difficult. Why make it harder on yourself when it’s already hard enough?
After my first year of sobriety, I joined a Celebrate Recovery group and a Pure Desire group. Both groups served different purposes, and I owe so much of the way I live now to the materials and the other women I connected with. Stepping out of isolation and being able to go from survival mode to actually living is almost unreal.
Deciding to make changes to your life is complicated enough on its own. Don’t do it alone. Share your goals and aspirations with those around you. Reach out to find a group or community of like-minded people to support you on your journey toward healthier living. Continue living in prayer and remembering that God wants the best for you. He loves you so much, and living just to survive is not really living.