Steps to living a sober life free of addiction

If you are on your journey to recovering from addiction, you probably have realized that it is not an easy one. It might even get more challenging when you are certified to be sober, and you have to keep implementing some health tips so that you don’t relapse.

Free White Oval Medication Pill Beside Blister Pack Stock Photo

In this article, you will learn some important steps that will help you live a sober life, which will prevent you from returning to your addiction.

Know your personal triggers

One of the ways to sustain your sobriety is by learning to identify your triggers. You need to know the places, people, events, etc, that are likely to trigger your addiction cravings.

When you know how to spot them, it will help you make the right decisions that will keep your sobriety intact.

Identify the common relapse warning signs

When someone is about to relapse completely, it does not happen suddenly. A relapse creeps in gradually when you are not noticing, and before you know it you are indulging in some unhealthy habits that can lead to your addiction.

Some of the regular relapse warning signs are less rational thinking, hanging out with people who abuse substances, indulging in addictive thinking patterns, etc.

Avoid old habits

If you want to keep your sobriety, learn not to go back to old habits. Some of these habits or activities might be interesting ones and they might be tempting to indulge in.

It might be hard to avoid some of them but ensure that you avoid them completely so that you don’t find yourself back to addiction.

Learn to build healthy relationships

Another way to live a sober-free life is to check your association of friends and acquaintances. It is best to hang around people who do not abuse drugs or engage in addictive behaviors.

Similarly, you should prefer to be with people who have a positive mindset about life. If you hang around people with a negative mindset, it might be hard for you to make progress in life.

How to start a new life after addiction recovery

It is difficult to make up your mind to break free from addiction. Also, it is more challenging to live a new life different from the old one after you recover from addiction.

Taking your life back on track might be complicated because you have to do away with some old habits, and take on new ones.

In addition, returning to the world will be much different from how you left it. Hence, you would have to learn, relearn and unlearn. You would also have to be careful not to engage in things that will trigger your addiction again.

If you are thinking of how to start a new life after addiction recovery, here are some tips to get started

  • Connect with a network of sober individuals

After addiction recovery, you will be shooting yourself in the leg if you still keep old friends who encourage your addiction. With a network of sober people, you will be able to remain accountable to them to maintain your sobriety.

Things might become challenging when you get back into the real world due to triggers, stressors, and the likes. So, you need much support and accountability to keep you sober.

  • Focus on your physical health

When you withdraw from your addiction, the withdrawal symptoms are usually unpleasant. Even after addiction recovery, you might still experience them. One of the best ways to combat this is to improve your physical health.

You can begin by eating a nutritious diet, undergoing regular physical exercise, getting enough sleep, and trying to reduce your stress levels.

  • Create a routine

It is important to develop and stick to a routine so that it prevents you from getting addicted. When you are out of addiction recovery, you need a routine that would reduce the risk of having a relapse. In your routine, it is important to include healthy habits and regular post-rehab recovery checks.

Starting over after addiction recovery is quite challenging as it doesn’t happen overnight. You need to be patient and keep implementing healthy habits to remain sober.

The role of counseling in addiction recovery

Addiction is a disease that is difficult to break free from. No matter how resolute or determined an individual is to get rid of their addiction, it finds a way to come back because proper help was not sought.

Addicted individuals need more than their willpower to defeat addiction, they need extra help, professional help in this case. Counselors in addiction recovery provide addicts with assistance in various recovery aspects.  

If you are coming in for addiction recovery, or you want to help addicts get back on their feet as a counselor, here are some of the roles to look out for.

  • Communication

The bedrock of counseling is communication. Counselors need to know how to communicate with addicts in their care.

Usually, addicts have so many questions that need answers, and the counselor should know how to provide these answers and communicate them properly.

Importantly, the counselor needs to let the addict know how their addiction developed. This would help them understand what they are truly going through.

With a mix of compassion and professionalism, the counselor communicates regularly to the addict to make their addiction recovery seamless and smooth.

  • Support recovery

The counselor should always be after the recovery of addicts in their care. When the withdrawal symptoms come fighting and the addict is thinking of giving up, the counselor shows up to motivate them to keep working towards their recovery.

In addition, they stick with their patients through thick and thin. They also try to involve other loved ones in the addict’s life so that they can provide the necessary support.

  • Alliance creation with patients

Addiction counselors are not like conventional ones. They create a genuine relationship with patients in their care because an addict truly needs a backbone as they strive towards recovery. Hence, the addict always knows that they have a rock-solid support system in their counselor.

To wrap up, the counselor understands that no two addicts can be treated the same way. Hence, he focuses on the unique experience of each patient to ensure that they achieve a sober recovery experience.


Just like families, friends are also integral in addiction recovery. Such friends must be sober or the individual’s addiction recovery might not be a total success.

When an individual is addicted, there is a strong chance that he or she would have failed relationships with those around him. People who are mostly affected during this period are family and friends.

Friends are expected to offer inspiration and support to their friend in addiction recovery. An individual who is in recovery would be quite lonely with no one familiar to talk to.

At this point, he or she needs to be careful so that they do not make the wrong choice. Most rehabs allow friends and families of individuals to come by and visit.

At this point, individuals in recovery need to ensure that the right kind of friends come visiting. These friends must be sober and they must be willing to offer their support all through the addiction treatment period.

One of the reasons why friends are needed during addiction is they help to improve your confidence and self-worth. This is why it is vital to choose your friends correctly. You need people who will help you get better, not people who will encourage your addiction.

When an individual has the right set of friends, he or she would not feel lonely when they are in addiction recovery. The right set of friends are those who would stick with you as you progress in recovery.

Also, they will keep in touch with the rehab to make sure that you are making tremendous strides as you recover.

It is a usual sight for relapse to occur and one of the major factors that contribute to this are friends. They can either make or mar you, so you need to be careful of those you hang out with when you are out of recovery.

Some friends would encourage you to join them in activities you have missed out on while you are away. It is best for you to be observant so that you do not relapse.


Addiction recovery is a treatment program that addicted individuals need to opt for to treat their addiction.

During addiction recovery, an integral aspect that should be given full consideration, is the family. The family is a support system that an addicted individual needs to pull through in addiction recovery.

When the family offers support to their addicted loved one, there is a greater chance of speedy recovery rate than usual. Addiction causes rift and disunity in the family and this is why it is advised that when a family member is addicted, the whole family must be involved.

In a rehab, there are various therapy session, worthy of mention is the family therapy. This is a special therapy session where all the members of the family are invited to participate in a therapy session.

During this therapy session, they are taught the basics of addiction and this makes them understand why their family member is addicted.  

It is imperative for the family to stick close to their family member all through their addiction phase. This shows the addicted individual that the family loves and cares for them. Hence, they will feel inspired and motivated to pull through as they recover.  

In the family, it is needed for communication lines to be opened with their loved one. Communication lines are effective when it goes two-ways. So, it is necessary for the family to constantly communicate with their loved one all throughout therapy.

The same applies if the individual is in outpatient rehab. During outpatient rehab, the individual would not be admitted within the rehab facility.

Rather, he or she would need to attend therapy sessions from home. So, during this time, the family is expected to render their care and support.

They should make sure that all forms of cravings that could trigger addiction, are kept away from their loved one.

Lastly, when their loved one is out of rehab and it is time for aftercare treatment, they still need to show their support, because there is always a tendency to relapse after being treated for addiction.  

Government Drug Control Efforts

In 2016, the federal government spent almost 30 billion dollars on drug control efforts.  Increasing demands are made on pharmacies to ensure that federally controlled prescription drugs are properly dispensed and properly managed.  Medical doctors, too, are under increasing pressure to limit the amount of prescription pain medication that they prescribe to the patients.  The Office of National Drug Control Policy is charged with monitoring and organizing our federal drug control policies.

Despite all of this, the number of people who die from prescription drug overdose continues to rise.  Prescriptions for pain medications increase yearly.  If anything, the government’s attempts to control prescription pain medications have only increased the illegal market for these drugs.  Further, people who do not have access to legal pain medication often turn to illegal substances in order to deal with their pain.  Cannabinoids are being tested as a less-addictive way to deal with pain and some states have legalized the use of marijuana for medical reasons.  ‘Medical marijuana’, as it is called, appears to offer a non-addictive solution to people in chronic pain, but the federal government has largely stood by and allowed this to continue.

Some place the blame on the fact that the government’s efforts too often treat drug abuse as an interdiction problem rather than as a public health problem.  That is, more money is spent on drug control when treatment may be what is needed.  As most people know, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare, encourages insurers to provide coverage for mental health treatment, including addiction treatment.  That is probably a step in the right direction, but it increasingly seems that the ACA is not working as many hoped it would.  Especially in rural areas, consumers have no access to ACA-approved coverage.

Federal efforts to control prescription pain medication have largely failed, as have efforts to prevent the importation of drugs that remain illegal in the United States, such as cocaine.  The ACA is, at best, struggling in its effort to give all citizens covered access to addiction treatment.  Some states have stepped up to allow citizens to use marijuana, but without any guidance from the federal government.  In the meantime, both those suffering from chronic pain and those seeking treatment for drug addiction are mostly left to do the best they can with what is available.

This is, without doubt, a serious public health problem and efforts so far to address have made insufficient progress.

The Washington Post investigated this issue.  Their reporting can be found at this link:

Family and Friends of Addicts, Part 2

Having already looked at the relationship between the recovery addict and their family and friends from the point of view of the addict, it’s time to speak to the family and friends of the addict.

For somebody who has never been a victim of substance abuse and addiction, it can be very difficult to understand the addict and their behavior.  It is not uncommon to hear such questions as: “Why don’t they just quit?” or “Don’t they care about anything aside from drugs?”  Questions such as these are reasonable for family and friends of the addict to ask.  Since they’ve never experienced addiction, they don’t have any way to truly grasp the power of addiction.

It can be helpful to provide information regarding how drugs impact the brain and change how it functions.  Understanding the way that the pleasure pathway of the brain and what addictive drugs do to it may give the loved ones of the recovering addict a dim sense of what the addict is going thru.  Information regarding the pain and discomfort that comes with terminating use of a drug may help to give them a hint of why the victim of addiction keeps going back to drug use.

It is vitally important that the family and friends of the addict not be judgmental about the victim of addiction.  It is one thing to recognize the destructive power of drugs of addiction, but it is something very different to condemn the addict.  The problem here is that we tend to judge others according to our own experiences.  It has been said, however, that we should not condemn another for falling in battle to an enemy we have never met.  In other words, we don’t know what we would have done in their shoes.  We don’t know what kind of suffering they were dealing with or what led them to use drugs in the first place.  There are all kinds of reasons why people choose to use addictive drugs.  For some, they were initially taken to help manage chronic pain and then became an addiction.  For others, mental or emotional pain was self-treated by the use of drugs.  Addictive drugs have also been used by people who suffer from social anxiety in order to help them manage social situations.  Again, you don’t truly know what you would have done if you were faced by the same problems.

As they enter into recovery, what the victim of addiction needs is support and encouragement, not condemnation.


Letting Go of the Past

Shame is one of the most painful parts of addiction.  In our best moments, we  look back and see how much harm we have caused to those we love.  We see the wreckage that our behavior has left in our wake.  We recall the lies we have told; the thefts we have committed; and the hearts we have broken.  For a person entering into recovery, this shame can be a terrible burden.  We worry about having to deal with those we have harmed in one way or another.  We are ashamed of how much others have suffered because they love us and care for us.  The more we remember the harm we have caused, the more we can feel ashamed of ourselves.

It is very important to realize that this shame will make recovery that much harder.  Remember that one of the benefits of getting high is that you don’t have to deal with painful stuff.  Indeed, many addicts began using because they were already suffering from mental or emotional pain.  As this new pain of shame begins to grow, our natural impulse will be what our response to pain has been in the past:  getting high.  We may know intellectually that getting high again will only create more problems, but drug use is the habitual way we have learned to handle life’s challenges.  “What worked before,” we think, “will work again.”  The more that shame finds a place in our lives, the more likely it is that we will not be able to sustain recovery.

The path to recovery does not lie in the past.  Pondering the sorrow of the past does not bring healing.  Wallowing in our failures will not solve our current problems.  It has been said that yesterday is past; tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet, so all we have is today.  It’s true.  We can’t change the past, but we can make decisions today that may help us have a better tomorrow.

This does not mean that we get to simply ignore the past.  We must be accountable for what we have done and seek to make amends.  We must recognize the harm we have caused.  It is the feeling of shame that is the problem.  In a way, shame is just another name for self-hatred.  Hating yourself won’t make you a better person.  Admit your failures, but don’t dwell on them or they may very well lead you back into drug abuse.


Family and Friends of Addicts, Part 1

One of the problems faced by victims of addiction as they strive towards recovery is the response of family and friends.  In the case of friends or family members who also use addictive drugs, this may mean terminating or limiting your relationship with those persons.  It’s much harder to maintain a clean and sober lifestyle if you’re spending time with people who are still using.  Sometimes, it’s necessary to change your phone number or erase all of your contacts to make it more difficult to connect with other people that you previously used with or purchased drugs from.

Most victims of addiction have friends and family members who are not involved with drugs, and this is much harder to deal with than limiting or eliminating contact with other users.  Your family and friends who are living clean and sober lives and who do not have a history of drug use will often be unsure whether they can trust your commitment to recovery.  It may be that over the years you have lied again and again about your addictive behavior.  How many times have you sworn and promised that you’re not using when, in fact, you truly are?  It may be that you have borrowed money by claiming you need something only to use that money to buy drugs.  Perhaps you have stolen from friends or family members in order to get money to buy drugs.  Whatever the case, you have broken their trust a few times, or even many times.  Now, they’re perhaps unwilling to trust you at all.

This can be a very painful part of your recovery.  The very people to whom you are looking for support as you enter recovery have pulled away and do not want to trust you only to get used again.  You may begin to feel resentment about this, saying to yourself: “Just when I need them most, they won’t have anything to do with me.  Don’t they want me to recover?  Are they ever going to trust me again?”  It’s important to avoid this resentment.  If the people who love you are afraid to trust you, it’s nobody’s fault but your own.  You’ve broken their trust many times.  How do you expect them to suddenly start believing you again.  If you’ve lied to them many times, you may have to be honest and open with them twice as many times.  Your poor decisions have caused the problem.  You must begin to make good decisions to solve the problem.


A New Life

OK, so you’ve entered into some kind of recovery program.  It could be a treatment center; a therapeutic relationship; or a self-help group.  You’re setting out on the road to recovery.  A previous post addressed the issue of shame and guilt, of being bound up in past mistakes and failures.  The question now is where you go from here.  How do you continue your progress towards a life free of addictive drugs?

First, it is necessary that you engage in concrete efforts to change how you manage your life.  Previously, drugs were probably a kind of crutch that you used to be able to handle — or avoid — the challenges of your life.  Saying, for example, that you intend to participate in a few self-help group meetings every week sounds good.  But, what’s a few?  Something more like one meeting every day or meetings on Monday, Wednesday and Friday is much more concrete.  It gives you a simple way to hold yourself accountable or have somebody else help you stay accountable.

Equally important is learning skills to help you manage life without using addictive drugs.  If you got drunk only or initially in order to handle social situations, for example, then you need to learn skills to handle social situations without drinking.

It may also be necessary for you to get treatment for mental or emotional issues that may have led you to abuse drugs.  If, for example, you suffered from depression and used drugs to feel better, then you’re going to need to get treatment for your depression.  If you were depressed before you began to use drugs, then that depression is going to show up again when you quit using drugs.

What is needed is working to prepare yourself to manage your life without the crutch of drugs.  Whatever it was that initially led you to the abuse of drugs must be addressed so that you are ready to move forward.  In other words, as important as it is to cease using drugs, it is even more important that you are ready to set out on a new path in your life.  Treatment for mental or emotional pain; skills for managing your life; and building a support network are all part of moving forward.  Your old ways of living and managing your life are over and done with.  Now it’s time to step forward into a new life.  Get ready for a whole new adventure.