New Year’s Day is the perfect time to reflect on your recovery journey by creating resolutions that will help you build the sober life you deserve. Everyone’s recovery journey is unique, but the team at St. Joseph Institute for Addiction’s Pennsylvania drug and alcohol treatment center has a few suggestions to help you choose resolutions that will make 2020 a year to remember.
Honesty is a vital part of the recovery process. Substance use disorders feed on denial and deception. To move forward, you need to be honest—even when the truth is painful.
This year, resolve to be honest with:
- Yourself. Admitting you have a problem that can’t be solved on your own is the first step in your recovery journey. Journaling every day is an excellent way to practice honest self-reflection.
- Your therapist and treatment team. If you’re not honest with your care providers, they won’t be able to help you develop a recovery plan that best fits your unique needs.
- Your sponsor. If you’re in AA or another 12-Step group, you need to be honest with your sponsor so he or she can provide the support and encouragement you need to stay on the right track.
- Your friends and family. It’s likely that you’ve inadvertently damaged many of your personal relationships due to your addiction-related behavior. Honestly apologizing and trying to make amends is the first step towards rebuilding trust.
Addiction is a chronic illness with biologically based components, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t responsible for your actions. Allowing yourself to continue to blame your substance abuse on a stressful job, a traumatic childhood, or marital troubles prevents you from moving forward. If you continue to paint yourself as a victim, you’re robbing yourself of the opportunity to make meaningful changes.
Taking responsibility means owning up to your mistakes and continuing to put your sobriety first. It means making amends for the harm you’ve caused to others when you are able to do so, as well as being willing to forgive yourself and let go of toxic guilt and shame.
Being in recovery gives you many reasons to be thankful, from the chance to continue improving each day to a newfound sense of self-respect and self-worth. Intentionally practicing gratitude keeps you on the right track by helping lower stress levels, reminding you to savor positive experiences, and fostering feelings of empathy and compassion for others.
As you become more established in your recovery, turn feelings of gratitude into a chance to give back. Being of service to others is a wonderful way to remind yourself of your blessings. Giving back in recovery might mean volunteering for a worthy non-profit, sharing your recovery story to inspire others to seek treatment, or becoming a sponsor once you have at least one year of sobriety under your belt.
Find a Sober Hobby
Hobbies provide a sense of identity and purpose. Now is the perfect time to rediscover activities you once enjoyed or try something new that’s always looked like fun. For example:
- Creative hobbies such as art, music, or drama
- Active hobbies such as team sports, weightlifting, hiking, or biking
- Outdoor activities such as fishing or gardening
- Cooking and baking
- Learning a new language
- Playing board games, card games, or video games
Hobbies can also help you reconnect with friends and family. Ask your loved ones to teach you more about what they’re interested in. Enjoying a shared activity can be a way to spend time together without feeling pressured to make small talk.
Live Life One Day at a Time
When you’re making major life changes, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the work that still needs to be done. Focus on living in the moment and celebrating everything you’ve already accomplished—whether that means graduating from residential treatment, earning a 60-day sobriety chip, getting your driver’s license back after a DUI, or finding a therapist who is helping you to cope with a co-occurring mental health disorder.
Think of being in recovery like building a house. Before you can decorate the inside of your new home, you need to build a solid foundation, frame the walls, and make sure you have electricity and running water. Everything you’re doing now is helping to prepare you for what comes next.
Strive for Progress, Not Perfection
It’s an unfortunate truth that the road to recovery isn’t always a straight line. Setbacks and challenges are part of the process. If you have a slip or a relapse, it’s not the end of the world, and it doesn’t mean that you’re not cut out for recovery. It simply means that you haven’t found a treatment plan that fits your needs quite yet.
Give yourself permission to be human. We all make mistakes, especially when we’re trying to implement radical life changes. It’s OK if your efforts are sometimes less than perfect, as long as you are continually working towards building a life free from the burdens of substance abuse.